Thirty-year-old Pasco County resident Christina Barker has been working as Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s special assistant since December, but her public profile rose this summer when City Hall staffing changes made her Buckhorn’s interim director of communications.
Barker became politically aware after John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid, and was totally inspired by Barack Obama’s run for the presidency in 2008. It was then, she said, she decided to pursue a career working in the political arena.
After finishing graduate school at the University of Florida, she began working at the Tampa Bay Partnership, where she says former CEO Stuart Rogel took her under his wing. Barker says Rogel and Buckhorn have been her mentors.
“Both always provide me with insightful guidance, while at the same time trusting my judgment and allowing me to lead on projects,” she says. “They have each shown me that real leadership means stepping out on issues that do not have simple or immediate solutions, but that require hard work and innovation. There’s risk in that, but opportunity as well.”
Barker worked on Alex Sink and Stacy Frank’s campaigns in 2010, Buckhorn’s mayoral election of 2011, and the Greenlight Pinellas measure in 2014.
Noting that some of those candidates and campaigns lost, she says she’s learned “it’s all about moving the conversation forward.”
She puts loyalty ahead of politics: “I truly value the people who I can count on for an honest answer, and always do my best to give them one in return.”
If she wasn’t working in politics, she said she’d teach American government or other political science classes. She also gives props to USF political science professor Seth McKee, who warned her not to go to law school.
You can connect with her @cdbarker1 or LinkedIn Christina Barker.