Monday, November 12, 2012

A Casual Conversation With Rick Baker

A week or so before the election Theresa and were walking through Tyrone Mall when a familiar head appeared above the crowd. It was the "tall guy" as we all called him when he was Mayor, Rick Baker.

We both worked for the Mayor during his two terms so after a quick hello the first question we both asked almost simultaneously was "are you going to run for Mayor?"

The former Mayor's response? A twinkle in his eye and "I get that question a lot". "Well"? we asked. Rick replied "don't know yet, but I'll admit I'm thinking about it".

At that point the presidential election was still undecided and Baker indicated he was seriously under consideration for a Cabinet post should Governor Romney win. So in typical Rick Baker style again the smile and "We'll just have to see."

A lot of what we talked about I would consider off the record at this point, but the former Mayor turned very serious when he talked about what has been going on with current administration. He is concerned about the lack of leadership, and the current seeming ineffectiveness of City Council and general lack of progress.

Among his biggest concerns seemed to be his perception of a lack of continuing progress in Mid Town. From eight years working in the Baker administration I can assure you he was and is serious about Mid Town.

Rick Baker looks good. He has put on a few pounds. According to the former Mayor he is really enjoying his current work at USF and spending quality time with his family.

Current biggest impediment regarding a mayoral run - convincing his wife.

You cannot spend even five minutes in Rick Baker's presence without getting excited about the future. From the very first day I met him I noticed the man exudes a contagious energy. And that energy and leadership are what is lacking in the current administration.

The conversation lingered on for the better part of a half hour covering a wide range of subjects from baseball to the LENS. I'll leave the details to the former Mayor to reveal publicly when he feels it is proper, but it is safe to say Rick Baker has already formulated some ideas about most of the City's major problems.

As the conversation wrapped up we could not help but try one more time and asked, "So are you going to run for Mayor?" Once again that infectious smile and then: Baker looking pretty serious said, "well it may depend on who runs. There are certain conditions where I might be obligated to get in the race."

With that a quick handshake and the former Mayor was off on his shopping trip. Theresa and I had a lot to talk about on the way home.

Photo Credit Univesity of South Florida.

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