Allison Guimard, 30, the Scotts’ oldest daughter, cried as she described a devoted CEO wife and impeccably dressed stay-at-home mom who joined her daughters in clogging, horseback riding and jazz dance lessons. Jordan Kandah, 27, praised her mom as a fastidious organizer who volunteered at Liberty Youth Ranch, a home for neglected kids.
Ann wiped away tears and laughed while listening to stories told by her tight-knit group of girlfriends, a half-dozen women she met over the years who see her as an equal to her husband and as their common denominator. Ann went last and stayed composed through her own remarks, cracking jokes about her discomfort and going off-the-cuff to thank everyone for being so kind.
“I want to thank my husband, your next governor, Rick Scott, for making me challenge myself every day doing things I thought I could never do,” she said, “such as being up here speaking to you.”
People who watch first ladies say Ann is thriving in her role.
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward called her the “epitome of a perfect dinner date” after chatting with her about the Governor’s Mansion dining room’s French wallpaper and commiserating over the pain of trying out new contact lenses. Her Naples pastor, the Rev. Kirt Anderson, said she is a great conversationalist who always asks questions to make people feel special.
Her personal trainer, Janice Powell, invites her to tailgate parties and dinners around town in addition to their 6:30 a.m. workouts. They talk about their children and about eating healthy (Rick and Ann are on a diet that does not allow meat, fish or dairy).
“She’s just the most genuine person I ever met,” Powell said. “All of my girlfriends love her.”
Most people, Ann said, “are, like, shocked to hear I was shy.”
She has kept busy, encouraging adoption, supporting military families, reading books like Llama Llama Red Pajama to children at state parks, and helping third-graders make “Florida veggie bird” sculptures of cucumber, cheese and honeydew.
Perhaps her most enduring achievement will be what she has accomplished in her new home, the red-brick, colonial-style Governor’s Mansion.
Ann worked with a local designer to bring in new draperies, reupholstered seating and paint in place of aged wallpaper, all while keeping the home’s 19th Century feel.
She borrowed traditional and modern artwork from the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville. She added family photos to make it more homey, including many portraits of her year-old grandson, Auguste. She brought in artifacts relevant to Florida history, including olive oil jars from the Christopher Columbus family crypt in Spain.
She expanded the season for public tours, and invited school groups to see the rejuvenated historic home.
“It’s been amazing what she’s been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time,” said Adele Graham, wife of former Gov. Bob Graham and a member of the commission that oversees the mansion.
Ann likes to read the newspaper, including stories critical of her husband. When asked about the negativity around Rick, she brushes it off as part of the political game.
“The president is not loved by everyone, either,” she said.