ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Baker is opening a new chapter in his life. So far, the future remains an open book.
As first reported by Florida Politics, the former two-term mayor announced Sunday that he's resigning his position as president of the Edwards Group effective Jan. 31.
Baker has worked for St. Petersburg businessman and Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards since late 2012. Baker led the effort to get a referendum for stadium improvements to Al Lang on the ballot. Voters in early May overwhelmingly approved the plan, designed to boost the team's chances to land a Major League Soccer expansion team.
But the league choose Nashville to fill one of four expansion slots. Another team will likely be selected from finalists in Cincinnati, Sacramento and Detroit.
The dimming of the Rowdies' MLS dream came on the heels of Baker's loss to Mayor Rick Kriseman in a spirited mayoral race that ended Nov. 7. Baker made a strong entry into the race over the summer, led in polling and outspent Kriseman. But the Democratic incumbent prevailed, winning the most expensive political contest in city history.
Baker said he plans to promote his new book on Florida history, Beyond the Sunhine and travel with his wife, Joyce.
Here is Baker's full statement as posted on his Facebook page Sunday:
As noted earlier today in Florida Politics, I have recently resigned my position of president of The Edwards Group, effective January 31.
I have been blessed with multiple careers — corporate law, mayor, university leadership and development and sports. For the last five years, I have enjoyed working with Bill Edwards on projects that have had an incredibly positive impact on St. Petersburg — among them are Sundial, the One St. Petersburg/Hyatt Place land deal and the Rowdies. I am thankful for Bill's passion for our city. While I will continue to help Bill from time to time if needed, I am excited to take the opportunity to explore new adventures.
I am about to publish my third book — Beyond the Sunshine — on the history of Florida, which I have been working on for many years and will be spending some time promoting the book.
This is not a retirement announcement — I intend to continue to work — and I will be looking for opportunities where I can enjoy being involved in efforts that make a difference.
Nevertheless, I am pausing for a few months to promote my book. Also, Joyce and I will do some overseas travelling — likely in the spring.
God has given me many things. An incredible wife of 32 years and two children who I am immensely proud of, are also my close friends, and have become amazing adults. I have also been given the opportunity to serve in multiple ways.
I count the friendship of many as among my greatest blessings, and I am excited about the next chapter.