Congressman Charlie Crist is a household name in Pinellas County. Whether you voted for him as a Republican or a Democrat, you probably voted for him at some point. Crist was the 44th Governor of Florida (2007-2011) and was elected to Congress in 2016 to represent Florida’s 13th congressional district, which encompasses most of Pinellas.
Crist won re-election in November 2018.
We caught up with Crist to review 2018, and look forward to 2019.
St. Pete Catalyst: What were your biggest accomplishments in 2018?
Crist: I’m proud of the work we’ve done this past year for the people, delivering results that put Florida first and fostering more civility in Washington – work that will continue in 2019 and beyond. From working to lower prescription drug costs, to fighting offshore drilling and climate change, to passing a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program that benefits Florida families, to expanding support for our veterans – the next two years offer major opportunities to enact positive change on our shared priorities.
In Pinellas County, our office remains laser-focused on delivering world-class constituent service. During my first term, I’m proud that our efforts have returned more than $3.5 million in earned benefits to residents – including over $1.28 million in VA benefits for the more than 70,000 veterans who call Pinellas home.
St. Pete Catalyst: What was a challenge you faced in 2018 and what did you learn from it?
Crist: We have faced many challenges in 2018 as a nation – from the horrific shooting in Parkland, Florida, to hurricanes and wildfires devastating communities across the nation, to self-made crises due to partisan gridlock. During difficult times, I remain optimistic because I have seen the perseverance and strength of the American people that continues to move progress forward.
St. Pete Catalyst: What are your policy goals in 2019?
Crist: In 2019 and beyond, my number one job is to serve the people of Pinellas – my bosses – and be the voice of our community in Congress. A major issue of local concern is the need for a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program and reforms to address affordability issues. I’m also honored to continue representing more than 70,000 veterans in Pinellas, providing constituent service at home and working in Congress so that they have the best care, support, and services they have earned. Additionally, we have an urgent need to act on climate change. In Florida, we are already seeing the impact of rising sea levels, and our economic health is tied to our environment. I will continue pushing for action to combat climate change – including our recently introduced bipartisan carbon fee bill – and to keep offshore drilling away from our coasts.
St. Pete Catalyst: What do you see for St. Pete/Florida/the country in 2019?
Crist: I am optimistic that we can work in a more bipartisan way in the new 116th Congress, putting people over politics. The House will also be able to serve as an important check on the Administration as the founders intended. Working together, we will build a brighter future for our community, state, and nation.
St. Pete Catalyst: What insight (advice or a tip) can you share with readers?
Crist: Every day, on my wrist I wear a band that says: ‘Practice the Golden Rule every day’ as a constant reminder to ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ It’s a simple, yet often forgotten principle, that reminds us that words matter, how we treat each other matters, and that we can disagree without being disagreeable.”=
St. Pete Catalyst: What’s your morning ritual/How do you organize your day?
Crist: Every morning, I start my day swimming laps. It’s a peaceful routine to help me prepare for the day ahead.
St. Pete Catalyst: What are you listening to?
Crist: The voices of my constituents.
St. Pete Catalyst: What are you reading?
Crist: The Bible
St. Pete Catalyst: What are you watching?
Crist: The Green Book