Rick Baker (mayor)
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2013)|
|Mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida|
|Preceded by||David Fischer|
|Succeeded by||Bill Foster|
|Alma mater||Florida State University|
Born in Chicago, Baker is married to wife Joyce. While attending Florida State University, Baker was the President of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. He also served as the school's senior class president and president of the Student Senate. Baker has a long[when?] background in management and law. Baker received a B.S. in management and M.B.A. degrees from Florida State University and Juris Doctor with honors from Florida State University College of Law. He later studied comparative law at Oxford University. Baker has practiced corporate and business law for 20 years, serving as president of Fisher and Sauls, P.A., a St. Petersburg law firm. Prior to his election as mayor, Baker served as the chairman of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. He is also the author of Mangroves to Major League, a historical account of the development of the city of St. Petersburg.
Mayor of St. Petersburg
Youth programs and education
A home-buying assistance program for St. Petersburg school teachers, and pioneered a program to use school property for new public-use playgrounds, setting a goal of having a playground within a half mile of every child in the city.
In 2005, 38 percent of the city's schools improved their Florida state ratings based on FCAT test results, compared to 10 percent of Florida public schools and 12 percent within the Pinellas County school system.
After his first 5 years as mayor a group of pastors led a protest march to call for an end to gang violence that had claimed the lives of 85 young African Americans.
Economic development and city services
In addition to focusing on youth and education, Baker has also focused on revitalizing the city's urban core, Midtown, and improving city services.
As Baker continues his second term, St. Petersburg continues a period of economic growth. There is currently more than $1 billion in downtown developments underway downtown, including construction of more than 1,000 new residential units, a new corporate headquarters for Progress Energy, two downtown hotels, renovation of the city's Mahaffey Theater, development of a new waterfront park and a new building for the Salvador Dalí Museum, which will be located in the Progress Energy Center for the Arts.
Reelection and second term
Baker's re-election platform, called the "Baker Plan", focused on five areas: education; economic development, particularly in Midtown St. Petersburg; public safety; neighborhood associations; and improving the efficiency of city services.
Baker's term expired on January 2, 2010, after which he said he and his family decided against a statewide campaign. "I only have a few years left with my kids at home, and I just want to be with them. It's really not a question of whether I think I could win, it's really personal reasons. You start thinking about an 18-month campaign."