The year is 2019, and the St. Petersburg City Council is dominated by women. Darden Rice is one of 5 women on the council. She was reelected by the people of her district in 2017 after her initial term in 2013. Rice has been a career advocate for public interest, working on the local, state, and national level. She's advocated for clean energy and smart environmental policy, the restoration of voting rights, and equitable healthcare. In her position at City Council, she influences city affairs and acts as a sounding board for the community's most pressing concerns. She is a thoughtful speaker, a discerning public servant, and a studied visionary working toward a better St. Petersburg.
Years in St. Pete
Since I was 25 years old.
Organizations involved in
League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, Neighborhood Association: For 15 years – Old Southeast Neighborhood Association, now Old Northeast Neighborhood Association.
What gets you out of bed every day?
I love my work. The opportunity for public service at the city council level in a city like St. Pete is just incredible. It’s an honor and there’s just so much happening right now. I love the nonpartisan nature of our work because so many issues and problems roll down to the local level so we can’t afford to be overly partisan, we have to work with everybody.
Why St. Pete?
I think St. Pete is at the right place at the right time. I think we’re just the right size – where we’re not that small but we’re not so big – so that a group of people in the Margaret Meade fashion can really get together and start something and it really does have ripples throughout the region.
What is one habit that you keep?
I make sure to keep a chunk of time in my week – Monday or Friday afternoons – that I devote to reflection. I think about what’s happened during the week, I think ahead about what I want accomplish in the long term. I make sure to read up on what’s happening in other cities, what’s happening in business journals, I love reading about leadership in difficult times.
Who are some people that influence you?
I have on my bookshelf “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, I have a number of books by Peter Drucker. I have a book by Marty Linsky about adaptive leadership.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I have to cop to the fact that I can be a little bit of a control freak – I or anybody may start off with an idea, but as it goes through the deliberation process and the group process, I don’t know what the ultimate outcome is going to be but its going to be better than it was as just a single idea in my head. And I’ve come to appreciate and even love that process.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
Just because you answer a question once doesn’t mean it’s settled. Sometimes if there’s an issue you have to keep repeating to let everyone know what happened.
I love what I’m doing and I have about 3.5 years left of my city council term. We have some exciting things ahead happening in the world of transit, both in the city with Central Ave BRT, which is going really well. We are starting to see some things really move forward regionally with transit, which I’m excited about. The pier is on budget and on time. There’s a lot of other issues that we have, poverty in South St. Pete, sustainability and climate change issues, planning our city for the 21st century.