This month, CBN spoke with State Representative Jeff Weninger about his successful businesses, his career as a restaurateur, FinTech related policies, and what he enjoys doing when he is not at the Arizona State Capitol.
Question: Tell us about how you got started as a restaurateur.
Answer: My family wasn’t wealthy when I was a kid, but most of my friends at school were wealthy. So I started working in restaurants when I was young so I could afford to go out on the weekends with my friends.
Q: Is one more fun than the other: Dilly’s Deli or Floridino’s?
A: It’s tough – I love them both, but Floridino’s is more hectic and I embrace organized chaos.
Q: What made you decide to run for public office?
A: I was interested in politics as a kid. Years ago, I saw some of the decisions being made at Chandler City Council which made it harder to run a business in our city. So, I decided to throw my hat into the ring, focusing on the importance of small business, reducing red tape, and making our city affordable.
Q: How does your perspective as a business owner affect your work as a legislator?
A: I believe it helps tremendously. I’ve lived through the struggles as a small business owner, so I know what other entrepreneurs are going through and can empathize with the local startups. I believe that experience gives me a greater insight and ability to find solutions to help small businesses.
Q: Are you concerned that newer voters don’t understand the value of entrepreneurship and capitalism?
A: Absolutely. I am hopeful that we can attract more entrepreneurs and encourage local job creators to take chances. Opening a business takes hard work and sacrifice. And that’s really the tradeoff: your company is a living, breathing thing, which means when you’re out with friends on the weekend, you always have an eye on your company. But it is incredibly rewarding, and I think we have a generation that will challenge tradition and the status quo. Arizona’s economy is exploding because we are attracting entrepreneurs and business owners are taking chances and growing here.
Q: What is your greatest accomplishment while serving in public office?
A: I would say the passage of the 5G small cell bill. It took about twenty stakeholder meetings and became contentious at times, but we worked through the issues and ended up with a balanced agreement that benefitted all parties. That bill was recently used as a template for the FCC changing a rule to allow faster deployment nationwide of 5G. This is incredibly important because the race for worldwide 5G deployment will impact economic development in Arizona for years to come.
Q: You’ve become Mr. Blockchain and, by extension, Mr. Fintech at the state Capitol. How’d you get interested in those topics?
A: Congressman David Schweikert first introduced me to the concept and from there you just go down this rabbit hole and are consumed by it. I truly believe blockchain will transform our economy and radically disrupt technology as we know it.
Q: What is the best advice you have received in your career?
A: Do what you love, and success will follow.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A: Spending time with my family, watching sports, and getting outdoors.
Q: What is your favorite band of all time?
A: Easy: U2! I’ve seen them 17 times live in concert since 1987. Living in Kansas, I flew to Arizona when I was in high school to see them in concert at Sun Devil Stadium.