By Martie Thompson
Recently elected St. Johns County Commissioner for District 1 Christian Whitehurst moved to NW St. Johns County with his parents and brother when he was still in high school from his birthplace of Tallahassee. His father had a new job in Jacksonville, and like many families, they decided to settle in St. Johns County for the superior school system. Whitehurst is a 2000 graduate of Nease High School.
He said he went straight into the working world, actually while still in high school.
“I played football my senior year for Nease, and after football season was over, my dad told me I needed to get an after school job or I wouldn’t get to keep my truck,” Whitehurst said. “So I drove up US 1 and ended up filling out an application at a kiosk in The Avenues mall for Fast Fix Jewelry and Watch Repair.”
He started working there at age 17 — and six years later, bought the business.
“My parents had both gone to college,” Whitehurst said. “I would never have seen retail store ownership as my career path, but it’s been a blessing.”
Whitehurst is a franchisee of the company and now owns two locations: an inline retail storefront in The Avenues Mall and a store in the St. Johns Town Center that he opened in 2017. He said he is proud that his business grew in terms of revenue even during the recession; jewelry repair is a niche market that really can’t be outsourced.
Whitehurst has been married to Courtney since 2011; they met via a Christian dating site while she was in college in Tennessee. They have two daughters, Olivia, almost five years old and Hannah, age two. In his spare time, Whitehurst said he enjoys traveling, but also likes to spend time with his family. They particularly like to spend time outdoors, exploring the county’s many nature trails, parks and beaches.
Whitehurst said that as a graduate of the St. Johns County school system and a beneficiary of the lifestyle the county offers, he felt compelled to run for the county commission as a way of giving back and also to help ensure that St. Johns County remains a good place to live, raise a family and even retire. His parents still live in the same house they bought when the family first moved to the area.
“If I could write a script, it would include having my girls continue to live and raise their children in St. Johns County too,” he said.
To that end, Whitehurst said he had four priorities as county commissioner. First, and above all things, is safety.
“All the things we love about St. Johns County would not be possible without this being a safe place to live,” he said. “We need to continue to support our sheriff’s office and first responders.”
Secondly, he doesn’t want the county to rest on its laurels when it comes to being the best place in the state to raise a family. He said the county commission needs to stand with the school board and make sure they have adequate funding. Also, he believes that parks and recreation like sufficient ballfield space is important so children can make productive use of their time.
Infrastructure needs, such as roadways and sidewalks, to support the county’s growth are also important to Whitehurst. Finally, Whitehurst said he wants to make sure that the county’s growth is smart and consistent with the already established culture of St. Johns County. He said we need to find opportunities for conservation and ways to protect wetlands and waterways.
“As we grow, We need to make sure to not destroy what is beautiful about St. Johns County,” Whitehurst said.
Photo courtesy Christian Whitehurst