Orlando Sentinel by Angela DiMichele Fresh Take Florida
December 17, 2019
Barbara Petersen never felt her path in life was defined. She had to whittle the force she would become.
She pursued the arts early on despite her father’s objections; she was too smart to be an artist, he argued. But her stubbornness prevailed. She didn’t want to grind away at a 9-to-5 job and left college with a mosaic of degrees: pottery, weaving, anthropology, Spanish.
She has survived six governors – from Democrat Lawton Chiles in the 1990s to Republican Ron DeSantis in 2019. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pay attention when Petersen raises concerns about a bill or a push to make an exemption to the open government laws.
And when politicians have tried to erode those laws, Petersen has stood in the way.
“Why I want the records are none of government’s business,” she likes to say.
So, when she decided she needed change and announced in June she was stepping down from her job,
her supporters struggled to digest her impending absence. But those closest to her know that Petersen can never truly let go.