On March 12 Gulfport voters will decide who will serve as mayor. Both candidates have experience with the city, one having served as the Ward Three representative and the other as the Ward Four representative. Both men have served as the city’s vice mayor. We asked them to complete a basic set of questions about their life experiences and situation and we’ve presented their answers verbatim below. We present these answers based on the order in which we received responses (Mr. Worthington responded four and half hours before Mr. Henderson).
In a future issue the Gabber will sit down with both candidates for more in-depth interviews.
Robert E. (Bob) Worthington (indicated by an “RW”) was born in St. Petersburg and has lived in Gulfport for 65 years. He has lived in no cities other than Gulfport. Sam Henderson (indicated by an “SW”) was born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and will have lived in Gulfport for seven years as of March 6, 2013. He has lived in four states. Both men own their own homes in Gulfport.
In how many cities – OTHER than Gulfport – have you lived?
SH: I was born and raised in Asheville North Carolina. My family moved to San Antonio Texas when I was in high school, and since then I have also lived in Rockport TX, Wilmington NC and Canton Ohio. There has been something to love and to learn from each place I have lived, and I am thankful to have ended up in Gulfport.
Where did you attend high school? What, if any, college degrees do you have and where did you receive them?
RW: I did not attend high school but instead attended trade school. I have a Florida GED with no regrets. I have no degrees as I took my college courses needed for my specific work at Honeywell and with the Fire Service. Some of the colleges that I attended were St. Pete College, USF, Hillsborough Community College and Sarasota Community College. My job did not require a specific degree, but very specific knowledge for the projects at hand.
SH: I graduated from Tom C. Clark High School in San Antonio TX in 1990. I received an A.S. degree in Environmental Technology from Stark State College in Canton, Ohio while working full time and learning the ropes of being a family man. Since moving to Florida, I earned a B.S. degree in Environmental Science and Policy from USF-St. Pete, and I am currently completing my masters degree through the acclaimed Florida Studies program at the same university. I have been attending USF steadily since 2008, through both my terms on city council, and I anticipate completing the degree in December of this year.
Please tell our readers what jobs you have held over the past two decades.
Please include length of employment, cities, and why you left each job.
RW: Honeywell, Inc. Space and Military Avionics, Division of Clearwater, Florida – 36+ years
Gulfport Volunteer Fire Retired Captain (Recognized by the Federal Government and the City of Gulfport as employees) – 26 years
City of Gulfport Council Member (Recognized by the Federal Government and the City of Gulfport as employees) – 6 years
SH: I have had many jobs in the last two decades, from bartender to site manager for a major demolition and remediation project. In my youth, I spent my fair share of time mowing lawns, flipping burgers and bagging groceries. I supported myself after high school working in restaurants as a waiter and later a bartender. I learned some of my most important lessons about relationships, communication and the importance of treating people with respect while working in the service industry, and those lessons have proved relevant in every aspect of my life since that time. In pursuit of my professional career path, I have worked for Diebold Inc. (7 years, R & D technician), Aerotek and Black & Veatch as the lead Environmental Technician and interim site manager for an $11 million Brownfield project, and later as an on-site environmental technician for restoration efforts at MacDill and Tyndall AFB's. I also worked for a local business called Air Quality Environmental out of Seminole before returning to college to continue my education. Since attending USF, I have worked for the university as an environmental science instructor to undergraduate students, and currently as a Graduate Assistant researcher in the library Special Collections Department. I also had the unique and eye opening experience of teaching earth science to Pinellas County middle school students this past summer as part of a new program aimed at providing additional STEM learning opportunities beyond the regular classroom setting. Finally, I have served two terms as the Ward 4 representative on Gulfport City Council since March 2009, and look forward to continuing my service to our city.
Are you married or in a committed, long-term relationship where you share housing and financial burdens? How long have you been with your current partner? Have you been married before? How many times?
RW: Married to my beautiful wife Fran for 32 years.
SH: I have only been married once, and it is to my wife Laura who has been with me for over 17 years. We met in Wilmington North Carolina, where we were both working in restaurants and enjoying life at the beach. It is because of her support and partnership that I have been able to accomplish so many of my endeavors in life.
Do you have children? How many?
RW: I have four grown married children.
SH: My wife Laura and I have one 16-year old daughter named Brenna.
What ward do you live in? How long have you lived there?
RW: I have lived in Ward 3 for 42 years
SH: I live in Ward 4, and have lived at the same address since moving to Gulfport seven years ago.
What political experience do you have? How many years at each post?
Please list only elected positions or positions to which you must be appointed.
RW: City of Gulfport Council Member, Ward 3 – 6 Years
Florida League of Cities – 6 Years
Suncoast League of Cities – 6 Years
Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council – 6 Years
Agency on Bay Management – 6 Years
Tampa Bay Nitrogen Consortium – 2 Years
Vice Commander (Elected Position) of S.A.L. American Legion Post 125
SH: I have been politically active for many years, but I began my political career here in Gulfport when I successfully ran for my council seat in 2009. I ran for that seat again in 2011, was unopposed, and am now serving my fourth year on council as the current Vice Mayor. Since winning the 2009 election, I have served on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (2 years), the Agency on Bay Management (2 years), Pinellas Planning Council (2 years) and the Florida League of Cities Energy and Environmental Quality Committee (4 years). I plan to continue my representation of Gulfport on these regional boards and committees for as long as I am able to do so.