America has entered an era of re-urbanization. As cities gain renewed growth and prominence, it is important that they be governed with a strategic approach that focuses on safety, quality of life and financial stability. Rick Baker, the former mayor of St. Petersburg, argues that a primary governing principal should be to make each city “seamless,” with no section underserved or overlooked.
Rick Baker has been a business acquisition lawyer, a law firm President, a university Vice President, and now is President of a St. Petersburg-based company involved in development, hotels, real estate, sports, entertainment and hospitality. From 2001 to 2010, he served as mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida’s fourth largest city. Under Mayor Baker’s leadership, St. Petersburg experienced a renaissance unmatched in city history. In 2008, Mayor Baker was named America’s Mayor/Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine. In 2011, Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief John Avlon named Baker”America’s greatest mayor of the decade.” Baker chaired the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida, chaired the Florida Statewide Water Congress, chaired the Florida Governor’s Municipal Mentoring Initiative, vice chaired the Florida Governor’s Energy ActionTeam, chaired the Florida Governor’s Transportation, Environmental Protection, Community Affairs and Fish and Wildlife Transition Teams, and co-chaired the Florida Attorney General’s Transition Team. Baker holds a B.S., an M.B.A., and a Juris Doctor (with honors) from FSU where he was Senior Class President. He studied comparative law at Oxford University. He served as legal intern to Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben Overton, and law clerk to Governor Bob Graham’s special counsel. Baker is an adjunct fellow of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for State and Local Leadership based in New York City. He has authored two books: Mangroves to Major League in 2000, a history of St. Petersburg; and The Seamless City in 2011, about city leadership and urban revitalization. Baker has been married to his wife, Joyce, for thirty years and they have raised two college-age children.