In 2007, Christine Brown told the Gabber she moved to Gulfport for her daughter, Elizabeth Brown-Worthington.
Councilwoman-elect Brown started life in Honolulu but moved from one city to the next as part of a Navy family. She graduated from Lakewood High School in 1988. A few years later, she met Lou Worthington through a man she was dating. She fell in love with Mr. Worthington, his family, and the entire town of Gulfport. In 1996, she and Lou bough their home on 53rd Street and 28th Avenue South. In 1998, they married.
“It was culture shock for me to meet people that have been somewhere for 40 or 50 years,” she told the paper in 2007, adding that a family like the Worthingtons and a town like Gulfport “is what I want for my baby.”
So far, Gulfport’s worked out well for Elizabeth, who is freshman class president at Boca Ciega High School, takes AP classes, and maintains 4.6 grade point average. Ms. Brown’s husband worked for the state as a welder on drawbridges and retired 14 years ago. She is adamant that she is not one of the “good old boys.”
“I worry about people saying ‘good old boy’,” she says. “A lifetime resident does not mean ‘good old boy’.”
Ms. Brown ran for city council twice before this election, taking a break from running to work on her master’s degree, which she expects to finish this year. She teaches math at Boca Ciega High School and serves as treasurer for the Gulfport Historical Society. She served on the city’s firefighter pension board until she learned would take the Ward Two council seat (she resigned to prevent a conflict of interest). She also served as a volunteer firefighter until the city switched to a paid fire department and she volunteers with the city’s community emergency response team (CERT).
This election marks the third time Ms. Brown has thrown her name into the ring to represent Ward Two, and she’s anxious to get to work.
“I tell you what I'm not going to do: I'm not going to sit there a couple of months and learn. I'm going to jump in; I've been sitting on all these ideas for years,” she says. “I have a lot to do. Two years isn't very long. I really want the city to step up their amount of participation in revitalizing the waterfront. It's threefold: if the city doesn't do their part to revitalize and take care of the city, then the merchants don't do well, the residents’ property values don't do well, then we lose money,” she says, adding that “the city's been laying back a little too much lately.”
She explains how that relates to her ward, the Arts and Marina District:
“If the government's not doing something to raise the interest in the city, then we can't rely on the merchants to do it. The government has to take the first step, and I'm not sure that's been happening. There's a lot of good stuff the merchants have been doing, like the festivals, but we have a job to do, too. We have a gem of a city and the things that could be done... we have so much growth potential.
“We're missing the boat on something, and I'm working on ideas to change that. We have so much to offer and we have some great experienced, education, knowledgeable residents with some really great energy that we can use to help the city, and we have yet to tap into that.
“We need a public/private government team to work together to help Gulfport,” she finishes.
"I'm really looking forward to it and I have some really good ideas. I want Gulfport to be the best it can be and I feel like I have some great ideas that will help everybody."
She speaks frankly and doesn’t mince words: she has definite things she doesn’t want to spend time on, saying the city has bigger issues than visioning sessions and other minutiae that has occupied some councilors.
“I think we have been spinning our wheels on stupid stuff. I have huge fish to fry. The council had a visioning session a couple years ago and they [the then-current council] put things on there like ‘take care of the employees’ and I was like, really? They're going to do that anyway.”
Councilwoman-elect Brown is ready to tackle larger issues.
“There's a lot of potential,” she says. “I'm tired of talking about sheds and chickens.”
Christine will take office at the first city council meeting after the March 12 election.
You can read the 2007 article about Christine by clicking here. This will open a PDF.