This March, only the Gulfport mayorship remains up for grabs. Although three seats on city council – Ward Two, Ward Four, and the mayor’s seat – came up for re-election, only one race has more than one qualified candidate. With no one running against Christine Brown in Ward Two and no one qualifying to run against Michael Fridovich in Ward Four, both challengers in those wards won the seats without campaigning. Vice Mayor Sam Henderson and former Vice Mayor Bob Worthington will face off for the mayor’s seat in March.
The Ward Four seat will go to newcomer Michael Fridovich in mid-March. Mr. Fridovich spoke out against the beach smoking ban and recently appeared at city council meetings; the Gabber will profile the new councilman in the new year. Former Ward Four Councilwoman Mary Stull declared her candidacy just before the city clerk’s office closed last Friday and submitted her qualifying paperwork just before the deadline Monday at noon. Election workers could only verify nine of her 19 submitted petition cards; to qualify as a candidate, hopefuls must submit 10 verifiable petition cards.
Ms. Stulll lost Ward Four to the city’s current Vice Mayor, Sam Henderson, in 2009, by 379 votes. Now the vice mayor, in 2009 Henderson also beat challenger Courtland Yarborough by 312 votes and challenger Pam Prell by 473 votes. Councilman Henderson ran unopposed for Ward Four in 2011. He will not run for Ward Four, choosing instead to run for mayor.
All voters must choose between Vice Mayor Henderson and former councilman for Ward Three (and once a vice mayor himself) Bob Worthington. Vice Mayor Henderson declared his candidacy when two-decade Mayor Mike Yakes opted not to run for re-election. Gulfport native Bob Worthington declared his mayoral candidacy earlier this year, shortly after the 2012 elections and before Mayor Mike Yakes said he would not run again.
In 2004, Mr. Worthington beat incumbent Harry Brodhead by 73 votes for the Ward Three seat. In 2008, he beat unknown Angela Leiner by just over 400 votes (Worthington received just over 57% of the votes with Ms. Leiner receiving just under 43%). In 2010, he opted to step down from council. Councilwoman Jennifer Salmon won his seat unopposed that same year.
Christine Brown will take her place as the Ward Two representative in March. Ms. Brown, a school teacher at Boca Ciega High School, ran twice before for the Ward Two seat, first in 2005 and again in 2007. Both times she lost to Michele King (by 133 votes and 206 votes, respectively. In 2007, Ms. Brown lost by less than the 258 votes that went to a second challenger, Courtland Yarborough.)
Incumbent Councilwoman Barbara Banno elected not to run this term, leaving Ms. Brown unopposed in the race. Ms. Brown stays active in the community. She has served on the firefighter pension board and the Gulfport Historical Society board for many years. She also served on the Millenium Committee, several charter review committees, and she currently serves as a teen council advisor. Her daughter, Elizabeth, edits the Boca Ciega High School newspaper, Hi-Tide and, as a family, Ms. Brown, her daughter, and her husband, Lou Worthington play an integral role in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). As with Mr. Fridovich, the Gabber will run an in-depth profile on Ms. Brown after the holidays.
Contact Cathy Salustri at CathySalustri@theGabber.com.