Since his inauguration as Florida’s 44th Governor on January 2, 2007, Charlie Crist has worked to lower the cost of doing business and living in Florida, increase people’s access to government, strengthen Florida’s economy and ensure the safety and world-class education of Florida’s children.
Upon taking his oath as Governor, Governor Crist immediately established the Office of Open Government by Executive Order, in order to make government more accessible to the people it serves. Governor Crist also continues to address high property taxes and property insurance costs and works with both Democrats and Republicans in the Florida Legislature to work toward finding solutions to both issues.
Governor Crist is committed to ensuring the children of Florida have the resources and opportunities to realize their full potential. The Governor established the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness to educate and encourage Florida students about leading a healthy and active lifestyle. He also created the Children and Youth Cabinet and appointed a Chief Child Advocate to streamline the adoption process in Florida.
Governor Crist signed the Anti-Murder Act as the first law of the 2007 legislative session in order to ensure the safety of all Floridians. The Governor, the Florida fundraising campaign chair for the United Negro College Fund, introduced a change in the Rules of Executive Clemency that allows automatic restoration of human rights.
Governor Crist recognizes that Florida’s economy is linked to Florida’s natural environment and the Governor is committed to restoring America’s Everglades and addressing global climate change. In July 2007, Governor Crist hosted the Florida Summit on Global Climate Change in Miami and brought together scientists and experts from around the world to discuss the impact of greenhouse-gas emissions. At the summit, Governor Crist signed three Executive Orders outlining efforts to reduce carbon emissions and providing direction for Florida’s climate friendly initiatives.
In May and November, Governor Crist lead trade missions to Israel and Brazil. In Israel, Governor Crist worked toward completing a Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Florida and the government of the State of Israel on bilateral cooperation in private sector industrial research and development. In Brazil, Team Florida learned from its number-one international merchandise trade partner more about ethanol production from top experts in the field. Approximately $300 million was anticipated to come into Florida’s economy as a result of the trade mission.
Additional economic development achievements include the establishment of the Max Planck Institute of Bio-Imaging to be located on the campus of Florida Atlantic University; the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute and the continued presence of AirTran headquarters in Orlando.
Governor Charlie Crist was born in 1956 in Altoona, Pennsylvania, but his family soon settled in St. Petersburg. As a public school student Governor Crist quickly learned the value of participation, leading him to serve as class president at St. Petersburg High School and, later, as student body vice president at Florida State University. In high school Governor Crist was the starting quarterback for his football team. He later played football at Wake Forest University before transferring and receiving his undergraduate degree from Florida State in 1978. Governor Crist then earned his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama.
Governor Crist received invaluable experience in Florida’s criminal justice system while interning in the State Attorney’s Office before accepting a position as general counsel for the minor league division of the Baseball Commissioner’s Office. Governor Crist began his government service as state director for former U.S. Senator Connie Mack before later returning to the private practice of law with the Tampa firm of Wood and Crist.
In 1992, Governor Crist won a seat in the Florida Senate. For six years in the Senate, Governor Crist served as Chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and as Chairman of the Appropriations Criminal Justice Subcommittee. A strong voice for public safety, he sponsored, among other legislation, the Stop Turning Out Prisoners (STOP) bill requiring prisoners to serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentences. This earned him numerous honors, including appointment as an Honorary Sheriff by the Florida Sheriffs Association—only the third person to receive the honor in the organization’s long history.
After Governor Crist completed his Senate service, Governor Jeb Bush appointed him as Deputy Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. In 2000, Governor Crist won a special election and became Florida’s last elected Commissioner of Education. Governor Crist’s path of public service next led him to seek election as Attorney General in 2002. He carried the general election by more than one-third of a million votes to become Florida’s first elected Republican Attorney General.
On November 7, 2006, Governor Charlie Crist was elected to serve as Florida’s Governor. Governor Crist is a lifelong member of the St. Petersburg Chapter of the NAACP.