2010-06-03 / Profiles

Lindsey Harrington is proud to Charlotte County home

BY CAROL DEFRANK Florida Weekly Correspondent

Lindsey Harrington KATHY GREY / FLORIDA WEEKLY Lindsey Harrington KATHY GREY / FLORIDA WEEKLY “God must have spent extra time creating Florida,” said Lindsey Harrington. Mr. Harrington is a real estate broker and former mayor of Punta Gorda. “That’s the only explanation I can think of for its beauty. No matter how long I live here, I will never take it for granted.”

Mr. Harrington has been enthralled with Florida since 1972, when he moved to Miami from Charlottesville, Va., after receiving a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

He earned a master’s degree from Pepperdine University while working for the U.S. Air Force Reserve at Homestead Air Force Base. During his final year at Homestead, he worked with the missile defense batteries for the Department of the Army. When Jimmy Carter decided to cut the missile defense program in the southern part of the United States, the army pulled out of Homestead.

“My job was eliminated. It was time for me to get out of government work,” he said. “I already had my real estate license, because my father-in-law owned Harold T. Goffe, Realtor. He had offices in Palm Beach and Punta Gorda.”

Ready to get out of the hustle and bustle of a big city, Mr. Harrington and his family moved to Punta Gorda. “I wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do, but it worked out for the best. I admit it was a culture shock,” he said. “We were used to going out at 9 p.m. Here, we’re on our way home by then. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Nine years after arriving in Punta Gorda, the Realtor threw his hat in the political ring and ran for city council. After serving nine years as a council member, four of which were simultaneously served as vice mayor, he decided to get in the mayoral race. As mayor, he was instrumental in the city being designated the Best Small City in the South and the Second Best Place to Live in the Country by Money magazine. Mr. Harrington is quick to point out that the city council, county commissioners, residents and business all worked to make those designations possible.

In 1996, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives to represent District 72 — Charlotte, Lee, Hardee and DeSoto counties. In 2002, he was appointed speaker pro tempore until term limits forced him to retire.

During his tenure, he took on several projects. “I was successful most of the time. However, I worked hard to preserve the G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital in Arcadia and lost that battle. But I won the war by bringing the community together and making people aware of the importance of the mental-health issue. So it was worth all the time and effort.”

As a representative. he was on a host of committees, but the one he enjoyed most was chairman of natural resources. “There was a movement in Florida to stop the construction of saltwater-front docks. The thinking was that if you build a dock, you have a boat; therefore, you are endangering the manatee population. Fortunately, the Department of Fish and Game was in the process of taking their annual manatee count, so they proved that they weren’t endangered. The result reflected what I already knew, that the manatee population was at an all-time high and growing. Fortunately, I won that fight. If I didn’t, many marine and construction people could have gone out of business or lost their jobs,” he said.

Currently in his second term as state committeeman for the Charlotte County Republican Executive Committee, he also serves on the board of the Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, North Port Association of Realtors and is a trustee for Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.

Mr. Harrington sells residential and commercial real estate for Coldwell Banker and has received its prestigious International Presidents Elite Award, which represents the top three percent of sales associates worldwide.

A self-proclaimed workaholic, Mr. Harrington has learned to relax. “I have a group of friends that have lunch together every weekday. We call ourselves the ROMEOs, an acronym for “retired old men eating out.” There are about 12 of us who meet at Jack’s Restaurant around noon. Everyone knows we’re always there, so friends frequently stop by to say hi. It’s one of the highlights of my day.”

He still owns a farm in Virginia that’s been in the family for 99 years. An avid historian, he reads all he can about our founding fathers.

He and his wife, Debbie, try to get there a few times a year to visit family and friends and travel often to Michigan, Colorado and Boston to spend time with their children. “I also enjoy hunting, fishing and spending time in the outdoors,” he said.

“I like to take time to smell the flowers.” ¦

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