In flux: The best way to describe one of the most well-known and well-loved figures in the St. Petersburg community, Rick Baker. Baker presided as mayor of St. Pete from 2001 to 2010 and has long after been known as one of the city's greatest cheerleaders and toughest critics. After an extensive career in law and politics, three major books under his belt, and a short return to the public eye in his third run for office, Baker has gone under the radar since the November election. We sat down and caught up with the man behind it all to find out what's next.
Years in St. Pete
Since 1981 – right out of law school.
Organizations involved in
Pinellas Hope and the YMCA
What gets you out of bed every day?
My faith, my family and my community.
Why St. Pete?
I got a job here and it was near my parents. I interviewed around the country a bit – but at the end of the day I decided I wanted to be near my parents. They were in Brandon and I was able to get a job in St Pete at Fisher and Sauls.
What is one habit that you keep?
I love to play guitar and continue to do that. I actually teach people guitar and I’m doing a little bit about that right now. I was able to play with Marshall Tucker Band a few times – once in Vinoy park in front of 25,000 people. That was a blast!
Who are some people that influence you?
God and Jesus Christ. I try to be influenced by my faith. I was influenced by my parents. My mom is still around and I still see her a couple of times a week and she remains an influence in my life. Other than my family, the greatest mentor I’ve ever had was John Galbraith, the CEO of Templeton Mutual Funds. I love him like a second father.
Historically, I admire Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. Churchill really had the weight of worldwide democracy on his shoulders and Lincoln had to hold the Union together.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I always start with the Bible and the New Testament. The 4 Gospels – if you read them – you can’t walk away not influenced because the truth and the actions that Christ did during his short life, you can’t believe somebody made that up.
Milton Friedman’s Free To Choose – other than the Bible, probably has had the most influence on my view of the world.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I generally don’t look back. I don’t believe in that. If I were to talk to 25 year old Rick Baker – I would tell him to take more risks.
I’m at a great time now. I decided to leave the Edwards Group in January – as of the 31st. I’m launching my book on Tuesday the 27th. It’s on the history of Florida. I’ll go around and speak a little bit about that. I’m going to travel with my family and then decide what to do next. I’m not under pressure to do anything, but I still want to be in the game. I’ve been approached by a lot of different folks and I’m talking a lot of different possibilities. Probably what I’ll end up doing is more than one thing. I want to identify some cool things that will move the dial and contribute to them.