It didn’t take long for Christine Robinson to get to work on her new job. Less than a week after then-Gov. Charlie Crist appointed her to the Sarasota County Commission in November and nearly a month before her actual first day in the office, she began scheduling meetings with citizens groups and different departments within county government.
“I am going to (county staff) to see firsthand how they work,” Robinson said. “I won’t be in my office much. I want to see how things get done.”
A desire to study the inner workings of county government is probably not a surprise to those who know Robinson.
The 36-year-old attorney and her husband, Eric, former chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, did quite a bit of studying before they made Sarasota County their home.
The two had just gotten married in Miami, where she worked in the state attorney’s office handling child-support enforcement cases. It was 2001, and the couple wanted to find somewhere within the state they thought was a great place to raise children.
They analyzed a statistical book that ranked all of Florida’s counties in terms of median income, crime, etc.
“We’re such nerds,” she joked.
The Robinsons zeroed in on Sarasota County. But, before they arrived, they began attending Sarasota 2050 meetings, which plan and shape growth for the next four decades.
“We were interested in finding out about the community before we moved here,” she said.
After moving to Venice, Robinson joined the state attorney’s office in Sarasota. She quit in 2004, however, to stay home with her newborn son — the first of three children.
Four months later, she began her own private practice, securing clients such as the Republican Party of Sarasota County, Rep. Vern Buchanan and now Gov. Rick Scott.
As she begins her own political career, Robinson plans to focus on one main goal — economic development.
“It’s the burning issue right now,” she said.
One way she plans to accomplish that goal is to streamline the county’s regulations and permitting process for businesses.
“We need to get as aggressive as we can with that,” Robinson said. “As an attorney who’s helped businesses through the permitting process, it would be great if business owners could spend less on attorneys and more on their business.”
Targeting county government’s inefficiencies is another goal.
An example Robinson cites as a good move in that direction is the recent purchase of iPads for each commissioner on which thousands of pages of documents for each County Commission meeting are now placed.
No longer will each commissioner and administrator get a massive book filled with the meeting’s paperwork.
Twelve thousand pages of paper were saved at just one meeting in early December.
As to the type of commissioner she will be, Robinson says she will give every resident a chance to speak his mind, emulating the commissioner she replaced, Shannon Staub, who was well regarded in that respect.
“I want to make sure people are heard,” said Robinson. “(Staub) was good at that. I hope I can follow in her footsteps.”
Hometown: North Tonawanda, N.Y.
Family: Married with three children
Education: Bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from Niagara University; law degree from University of Miami
Occupation: County commissioner and attorney
Contact Robin Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org