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Gulfport Mayoral Candidates Share Business Experience

As part of our coverage of the Gulfport City Elections this March, we are asking both Gulfport Mayor Candidates a "Question of the Week." Below is each candidate's answer to our third question.

Welcome to our weekly series, "Candidate Question of the Week," on Gulfport Patch. We will be asking Sam Henderson, current Vice Mayor, and Bob Worthington, former City Councilor, a question each week until the City Elections on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

Both men are vying for your votes for Gulfport Mayor. Below are their responses to our third question of the week.

This question was emailed to the Editor by a Gulfport reader.

Q #3: "Can you elaborate on your understanding of private sector business? What positions have you held in private sector businesses and how did those positions prepare you for your potential role as mayor of Gulfport?"

Bob Worthington

"Private Sector Business usually refers to the citizen sector, that which involves a person or group of people running a for profit company that does not involve the control of the government. 

Although I have never owned my own business, I have been working in the private sector since I graduated from the School of Culinary Arts at the age of 17. After graduation, the school hired me as an assistant instructor. That lasted about two semesters, as I knew I had to get out and show the world what a great cook I had become. Working in restaurants in kitchens lasted about two years, as it seems I had fallen head first into the “Real World.” Although I had no problem with hard work, I found that I did not like the hot kitchens or long hours. Around that time, a friend of mine told me that Honeywell, an electronics company in Clearwater, was hiring and looking for people just like me.  Technology was so new at the time that training was developed according to the need within the company. I really enjoyed the training and challenges brought on by the projects that I was assigned to.

I stayed with Honeywell Space and Military Avionics for about 37 years. During this time, I would take my birthday off, just about every year. I would celebrate my birthday by working other jobs just for the experience. I worked as a plumber’s helper digging ditches; I spent a day picking yellow and green squash from endless fields of produce. Over the years, there were many such day jobs that I would take on, all in an effort to understand how others worked and lived and to understand the hardships that many still face in today’s workforce, like little or no benefits, no health insurance, no paid sick leave and vacation – all the things that I was privileged to with my job at Honeywell. Even with all the hardships, they found pride in doing the very best job that they could do. For me, I found a new understanding in what it takes to truly make this world run. I also developed my leadership skills while working as a volunteer firefighter with the Gulfport Fire Dept. for 26 years, retiring as Captain. Leading a team of up to 32 dedicated people in life and death situations, having to multitask and make split second decisions was an incredible life experience. 

I believe that my experience in the private sector, as well as my dedication to the safety and well being of Gulfport's citizens has given me a solid base to lead Gulfport into the Future!"

Sam Henderson

"My professional life has largely been private sector. I worked for 7 years at the Diebold Research and Development unit in N. Canton OH, where I was on the cutting edge of part production for machine components in their prototype manufacturing facility. I also participated in interdepartmental streamlining strategies, including ISO 9000, OSHA and EPA compliance initiatives. Later I served as the Construction Manager and Environmental Technician on a 9+ million dollar brownfield remediation and demolition project in Cleveland OH, and saw that project through to it's successful conclusion. That task involved serving as a community and state regulatory agency liaison, as well as overseeing the day to day operations, sampling plan execution, transport scheduling and record keeping as the site owner representative for two years. I have additional experience as well, including environmental restoration work at both MacDill and Tyndall Air Force Bases. And last but not least, I spent a good 7 years of my youth in the restaurant industry as a waiter and bartender, which taught me a great deal about people, relationships, and the value of hard work and communication in doing successful business.  My goals for Gulfport, from a private sector perspective, are to continue to support an environment where small business can thrive, without flooding our town with generic corporate competitors that will turn our unique city into another slice of gentrified urban sprawl. We are already supporting that agenda as a city, and I will continue to do so. Small business is the backbone of Gulfport's economy, it is a crucial part of our city's character, and I am dedicated to sustaining that."

For More Information:

The municipal elections are on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The mayor serves a three-year term. The voter registration deadline is Monday, February 11, 2013 for the next city elections. For more information on how to register visit the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website.

Both candidates have set up Facebook Pages; here are the links:

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Do you want to submit a question for consideration in a future post? Email the Editor at Cherlene.Willis@patch.com.

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