Bob Buckhorn Archives - Page 2 of 43 - SaintPetersBlog

Rick Kriseman chastises Rick Baker’s ‘silence’ on U.S. withdrawl from Paris Climate Accord

Rick Kriseman is one of 76 “Climate Mayors” around the county defying President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

In a letter posted shortly after Trump announced that he would be withdrawing the U.S. from the landmark 2015 global agreement on voluntarily reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda announced their own intent to uphold the U.S.’ end of the Paris accords within their own jurisdictions.

“We will continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice,” the letter reads. “[I]f the President wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks.”

Kriseman signed an executive order in August 2015 creating an office of sustainability in St. Petersburg, and last fall the City Council formally approved the city’s commitment to transitioning to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, becoming the first city in Florida and the 20th city in the country to make such a commitment.

St. Pete officials also claim that they were the first city in Florida to update their comprehensive land-use plan to comply with the state’s “Peril of Flood” Act, a 2015 law requiring local governments to plan for floods and impacts from sea-level rise.

“For far too long our city has ignored the challenges created by our changing climate,” Kriseman said Friday. “My administration is the first in our city’s history to recognize the challenge of climate change and tackle it head on. I’m proud of our record on fighting climate change, from implementing curbside recycling to pledging to become a 100% clean energy city. I’m also proud to say that we will continue to uphold the agreement that President Barack Obama and 194 other nations came together to make in 2015. Climate change is a global force with local consequences, and our beautiful coastal city is no exception.”

The letter comes as Kriseman is locked into an intense reelection battle against former Mayor Rick Baker. 

When asked for comment on whether he agrees with Trump’s decision to forgo the environmental pact, Baker sidestepped the issue on Friday, and instead attacked Kriseman.

“To me, a clean and healthy environment is critical to our health and quality of life, that’s why I am extremely concerned about the impact the Kriseman administration inflicted on Tampa Bay when he dumped 200-million-plus gallons of sewage,” Baker said in a statement to FloridaPolitics.com.

“I intend to continue the positive green initiatives I started in 2006, when St. Petersburg was designated Florida’s first green city, and again under my leadership by executive order in 2008 when we created a carbon scorecard for city facility and vehicle use mandating energy conservation.”

A spokesperson said that Baker “has a track record of leadership on this issue having previously served as the Vice-Chair of Gov. (Charlie) Crist‘s Energy Action Team and as chairman of the FL Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida for multiple years.”

On the campaign trail last month, Baker used virtually the same quote about how St. Pete became Florida’s first “Green City” during his tenure more than a decade ago, adding that it would be hard to keep that status “when you dump 200 million gallons of sewage in the Bay.”

Baker was speaking of the sewage spills that occurred on Kriseman’s watch over the past two summers and his reaction to them, eliciting a huge mocking cheer from the crowd.

Jacob Smith, Kriseman’s campaign manager, took note of Baker’s reluctance to speak specifically about the Paris agreement.

“Rick Baker should know better,” Smith said. “As a former member of the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida, Rick Baker has chosen to be silent and side with Donald Trump instead of speaking out against this irresponsible political move. St. Pete needs a mayor who will stand up to dangerous decisions coming out of the White House. Not one who buckles to their party’s president, refusing to even say the words ‘climate change’”

Other Florida Mayors on the list include Andrew Gillum from Tallahassee, Philip Levine from Miami Beach, and Tampa’s Bob Buckhorn.

Buckhorn blasted Trump after he declared that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement, saying, “President Trump will go down as being on the wrong side of history for a number of things but pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement may be the most damaging to our future.We are a nation that prides itself on our ability to work with others to help fix some of the world’s most pressing issues and this kind of reaction is shortsighted at best. Mayors across the country should stand unified and work together from the ground up to find solutions to issues facing our cities and certainly the effects of our changing climate is one of them.”

Tampa prepares for NHL All-Stars, Gasparilla on same weekend

As the 2016-17 National Hockey League season nears its conclusion, thoughts turned to next season and the NHL All-Star Game. Commissioner Gary Bettman was in town to join a press conference at Amalie Arena to talk about recent awarding of next year’s game to Tampa Bay.

Bettman was the first to discuss the dates of All-Star Weekend, January 26-28, coinciding with Gasparilla activities. He was undaunted by any logistical challenges and the league was well aware of the Tampa tradition long before awarding the game.

“This weekend is going to be something special,” Bettman said. “We plan to make both events more special.”

Bettman also made it clear that the league’s superstars will be in town and not practicing for the February Winter Olympics. NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 games to be held in South Korea.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn expressed his enthusiasm about having two major events going at once.

“The opportunity to marry that great event with the hockey all-star game is a dream come true,” he said. “We do this better than anywhere in the world. This is also an opportunity for the world to see a city that has transformed itself.”

Both Bettman and Buckhorn talked about the transformation of Tampa’s Channelside area, turning it into a vibrant source of activity and commerce. They gave proper credit to Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who had a message for the Lightning organization and fans.

“You deserve this all-star game,” he said. “You have allowed us to dream big.”

Vinik referenced the 107 consecutive sellouts the Lightning have enjoyed.

2018 will mark the second time the Lightning has hosted the All-Star Weekend. In 1999 the game was played in the current Lightning home, which was then called the Ice Palace.

It will also mark the second time a major sporting event has coincided with Gasparilla. In 2001, Super Bowl XXXV was in town as Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla was taking over the city.

While everyone with the Lightning and Buckhorn’s staff is pleased with the chance to conduct both events simultaneous, Buckhorn was asked about the city’s greatest challenge, especially on Saturday, when the Gasparilla parade takes place.

“Traffic,” he said succinctly. “Game night (Sunday) will be fine, but Saturday will be challenging.”

They have 8 months to come up with a plan.

 

St. Pete Council candidate Brandi Gabbard fears loss of workforce housing in city

Realtors may be rejoicing over the possibility Florida’s homestead exemption could be increased by an additional $25,000 in 2019.

Brandi Gabbard is not one of them.

The National Association of Realtors director and a candidate in St. Petersburg’s District 2 race this year, Gabbart has “grave” concerns about the proposal, which if approved by the voters in November of 2018 could result in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue to the city.

“Anything that causes huge deficits to local revenue is of great concern,” Gabbard said during a meeting early Wednesday at a Dunkin’ Donuts on North Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. “I’m currently combing through the budget, and I’m hard pressed to see where that deficit will be made up.”

Mayor Rick Kriseman, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn oppose the measure, as well as elected officials at the city and county level throughout Florida.

Despite that opposition, state legislators approved the measure anyway, which will go before the voters in the fall of 2018.

Gabbard is currently running in a one-on-one matchup with banker Barclay Harless for the District 2 seat being vacated by term-limited Jim Kennedy. 

In Gabbard’s opinion, the bigger issue for many St. Petersburg homeowners is what’s going to happen with the National Flood Insurance Program, which is scheduled to end this September. A proposal to renew the plan for another five years has just been introduced in Congress, and Gabbard participated with Congressman Charlie Crist and other officials in a roundtable discussion on the issue Monday.

“A tax break here doesn’t necessarily make up for an increase in flood insurance cost on that side,” she says.

Gabbard serves on the St. Pete public information task force on property insurance that meets quarterly, and as someone who’s been selling real estate in Pinellas County for over a decade, is an expert on the subject of flood insurance and its potential to seriously harm homeowners in the city, depending on what Congress ends up doing.

“Even though flood is a national issue, I just think it’s so important to us here, because we are Ground Zero,” she says. “Pinellas County has more properties affected -especially when it comes to the grandfathering issue –  than any other place in the country, so it’s my duty to continue that fight, even after I’m on City Council. Because the issue every time it rears its head it gets uglier and uglier and we have to find a solution.

Regarding homeowners, Gabbard acknowledged that housing is a huge issue in this year’s campaign, specifically workforce housing. She said the biggest problem is that there’s simply not enough “inventory” to satisfy demand in St. Pete, particularly for those looking teachers, policemen, firemen and other professionals attempting to spend between $100,000-$250,000 for a first time purchase.

“If there is going to be loan on a property, it has to meet  certain criteria, and a lot of those homes are not in the condition that they would actually be financeable, ” she says, adding that if they were, they’d be more expensive, “so it’s a really challenge place to be.”

Gabbard says the challenge for the city is how do redevelop in a “smart way that doesn’t lose the aesthetic of our neighborhoods, but at the same time, provides those options for those who want to create a life here in their city.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday that they have issued a permit to the city to begin construction on the new Pier.

Gabbard says she personally wants to see a new Pier but voters have concerns over the escalating costs of the project.

“They’re just really concerned about the money, the increased costs that keep being brought up and keeps being discussed,” she says.

Unless a third candidate gets in the race before the end of next month, Harless and Gabbard won’t square off until November. If there’s a third candidate, a primary would be held August 29.

Yolie Capin noncommittal about possible 2019 mayoral bid

With more than 21 months before Tampa voters will choose a successor to Mayor Bob Buckhorn, there’s no real reason for anyone seriously considering such a run to announce their intentions.

That’s why presumptive candidates 2019 mayoral Mike Suarez and Jane Castor said they don’t intend to launch their campaigns anytime soon. It’s also probably why Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin declined the opportunity to show her cards when asked about her plans during an appearance Friday morning at the Oxford Exchange.

“I was asked ‘tell me what you’re not running for,’ ” she told the crowd at the Cafe Con Tampa “I said I’m not running for governor.”

The longest-serving member of Council (she was selected by Councilmembers to replace John Dingfelder in July 2010 after 17 ballots), Capin will be term-limited in two years. Progressive Democrats are talking her up for a possible run in 2019, with enthusiasm that comes from her liberal stance on several issues, including advocating for stronger relations between Tampa and Cuba.

While that stance propelled some of that progressive enthusiasm, it put her at odds with Buckhorn.

During her speech, she spoke extensively about her five trips to the communist island.

One of the pet projects she’s most proud of is a cultural assets commission. A cultural assets advisory committee created by Capin has been working for the past six years on looking how to leverage the city’s assets, and now that idea is set to become a reality.

Capin met with Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan on creating a Cultural Assets Commission, fashioned after the Tampa Sports Commission; the County has now allocated $2.1 million for a public-private partnership that should be up and running by late summer.

Among those private partners with the project is developer/hockey owner Jeff Vinik.

“If the art museum gets a blockbuster exhibit and they need a little help, we’re looking for grants,” she said in explaining how the commission would work. “So a corporation comes in and says, ‘I need $100,000 to do this, and this is the benefit, and we match it with $100,000. You have a matching partner and you have a program. That is going to benefit the community. That’s what we’re hoping to see with this.”

Capin decried the recently passed bill in the Florida Legislature that will put a ballot measure up in 2018 to increase the homestead tax exemption. If passed, the measure would take a chunk out of the ad valorem revenues of every local government in Florida. Tampa could take a $6-9 million hit, she said.

Capin championed Buckhorn’s op-ed just published in the Tampa Bay Times about the measure.

There are more than 600 jobs in the city that gone unfilled since the Great Recession hit in 2008. Audience member Jen McDonald asked if the council had plans in the future for more staffing moving forward. Capin said that the City Council had created an apprenticeship program to replace staffers with the Water Department who are aging out.

“I know we can do more with less, but I just wonder how long we can go on with that lower, leaner staff in the next three to four to five years,” McDonald said later.

Regarding the vexing issue of transit in Tampa, Capin said the issue would “take some leadership,” and said that part of the problem with the 2010 Moving Hillsborough Forward transit tax was that the public was too confused about it, and “no one that was looked at a real, honest straightforward leader took the reigns. … Everybody passed the buck, they brought somebody in try to try to pass it.”

If Capin is to run for higher office, however, she’ll need to make sure she’s on top on of all the issues of the day.

When asked if there were any partnerships between USF’s CAMLS medical school and the Cuban government, Capin referred to a 2006 state law that made it impossible for colleges and universities to use public or private money to travel to Cuba (or to any other country on the U.S. list of state-sponsors of terrorism). However, that hasn’t been the case for nearly two years, after the U.S. officially restored diplomatic ties with the Cuba, ending the last travel restrictions keeping Florida professors from visiting the island.

And while discussing local transit, she said that ridership on buses has risen “quite a bit, and that’s because of the recession.”

While ridership was up for several years, those ridership numbers have come down over the past year, both locally and nationally

Joe Henderson: When NFL suddenly needed a Super host, it knew who to call

It wasn’t luck that Tampa was selected Tuesday to host its fifth Super Bowl.

When the National Football League learned the new stadium being built in Los Angeles won’t be ready in time for the game in 2021, it had to find a city not only ready to step in on short notice, but one with a proven record of excellence.

Tampa checks all the boxes, and that’s because the team Rob Higgins has assembled at the Tampa Bay Sports Commission is as fine as any in the country and better than most.

Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer deserves applause. Tampa’s battle-tested political leaders, especially County Commissioner Ken Hagan and Mayor Bob Buckhorn, should take a bow. Higgins is the guy who really makes it happen though.

Smart, well-connected and experienced, Higgins understands better than anyone what has to be done in the trenches to successfully pull off a Super Bowl. NFL owners and leaders know that, which is why I have to believe the decision about what to do took about 10 seconds.

“Hey guys, that new stadium in Los Angeles won’t be ready for the 2021 Super Bowl. What should we do?”

“Um, let’s move it Tampa.”

“All in favor?”

“Aye!”

“Opposed? Anyone? No, great. Let’s go eat.”

I would imagine Higgins’ No. 1 obstacle in the coming months will be keeping his cellphone charged. The man is going to be busy. He will have to get renewed pledges from business, civic and political leaders that were part of Tampa’s bid package for the 2019 and 2020 games, but I can’t imagine that will be much of a problem. I am certain he will have cooperation from all the major players in the area: the convention and visitors bureau, Tampa International Airport, local and state security agencies, and so on.

The Super Bowl occupies an outsized place in Americana. By the time 2021 rolls around, it will be 37 years since Tampa hosted its first Super Bowl.

That game represented important psychological validation to people here that Tampa Bay had a place among the important locations in the country. Interestingly, Tampa’s main competitor to host that game was Los Angeles. The winning team that year? The Los Angeles Raiders, who beat the Washington Redskins 38-9.

Tampa essentially turned itself over that week to the NFL, and in return team owners basked in the love. That set a standard for future bids by other cities, which meant Tampa had to keep getting better and more creative to stay among the regular sites that get to host this game.

It must have worked because with this game Tampa will rank fourth on the list of cities that have hosted the largest number of Super Bowls.

We live in a pretty cool place, huh?

“Aye!”

Opposed? Anyone?

Didn’t think so.

Florida leaders react to the bombing at a concert in Manchester

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Tuesday for the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that left 22 people dead and sparked a stampede of young concertgoers.

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters on subway trains and a bus in July 2005.

Here is a compilation of reaction from Florida’s elected officials and leaders about the tragedy:

— Sen. Marco Rubio on Twitter: “Our prayers are with the people of Manchester.”

— U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers are with Britain and the families impacted by this horrific act in Manchester.”

— U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Twitter: “Praying for the people of Manchester.”

— U.S. Rep. Val Demings on Twitter : “Standing with and praying for Manchester today.  Another cowardly attack against innocent people.”

— U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch on Twitter: “Tonight in #Manchester, enormous amounts of horror, grief, and pain. From America and beyond, we join you in sympathy, outrage and resolve.”

— U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn on Facebook: “Leah and I send our sincere condolences to the British people as they respond to another heinous act of terrorism. The events in Manchester remind us again that these vicious killers will consider any target, even a crowd of teenagers and children at a music concert. We stand with resolve alongside our British friends in the face of this threat.”

— U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings: “I offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of yesterday’s terror attack in Manchester. As England’s law enforcement continues working to establish the full details of this horrific attack against innocent children and families, the American people stand side-by-side in grief, anger, and resolve. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the city of Manchester and all of England as they come to terms with this terrible atrocity.”

— U.S. Rep. Al Lawson on Twitter: “Our thoughts and prayers are with #Manchester and the United Kingdom for all the victims of tonight’s attack. Such sad news.”

— U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “As I am writing yet another statement expressing horror and condolences after another inexplicable terror attack, I feel the angst and anger of a mother who has sent my children off to a concert just like last night’s in Manchester.

The terror attack that apparently targeted innocent young people was a truly despicable act committed by cowards. As Americans, we are heartbroken and horrified by this mass murder of young adults and even children, but make no mistake: our resolve to make our world a safer one for our children is only strengthened, and our commitment to working with our British ally in pursuit of that goal remains unshakeable.

Our thoughts are now with the victims, their families and all the people of Manchester. And while many facts are still unknown, Americans will not waver in seeking justice and standing up against the hate that motivates such heinous crimes. And we will never let these pretenders who hold themselves out as the only true defenders of Islam to be recognized as anything more than what they are: murderers.”

— Gov. Rick Scott on Twitter: “Praying for everyone in Manchester tonight. This is an absolute tragedy and our hearts are with those who were harmed and their loved ones. Also praying for the safety and security of Manchester of law enforcement and first responders during this unimaginably challenging time.”

On Tuesday morning, the governor tweeted: “(First Lady Ann Scott) and I continue to pray for the 22 innocent lives lost in the senseless act of hate and terror in Manchester last night. Florida stands with the British people.”

— Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera on Twitter: “Horrible and senseless. We mourn those lost and pray for swift justice.”

— Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Twitter: “Terrorists who take the lives of innocent people are nothing but cowards & they must be brought to justice. My prayers to Manchester.”

— Democrat Gwen Graham on Twitter: “As a mom, my heart breaks. Praying for the children and families, parents and grandparents in Manchester.”

— Democrat Andrew Gillum on Twitter: “Deeply saddened by #Manchester tonight. Prayers to the families affected & the UK.

— House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Twitter: “My deepest sympathies and prayers for strength go out to the victims, parents, & families of the terror attack in the U.K.”

— Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto on Twitter: “Prayers to our British friends this evening. What a horrible tragedy.”

— Sen. Debbie Mayfield on Twitter: “My heart goes out to those in Manchester, especially to the families and first responders. Our prayers are with you and the United States of America will always stand by you.”

— Rep. Chris Sprowls on Twitter: “Our hearts are with the families of those killed in #ManchesterArena last night. May we unite together to eliminate terror.”

— Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Twitter: “My prayers go out to those in Manchester, as a Father of 2 little girls, I can’t imagine what these families are going through.”

— Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Twitter: “Outrage!!–Manchester terrorist attack. Tears & prayers for the victims and families.”

— State Attorney Melissa Nelson: “We’re all grieving for the victims and those affected by yesterday’s bombing in Manchester.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

Bob Buckhorn apologies for military conference joke

Over the course of six years as mayor, Bob Buckhorn has said things that have offended some people, but he has rarely (if ever) been forced to apologize.

Until now.

Unless you’ve been avoiding local (now national) press over the past couple of days, you know the mayor has been (metaphorically) under fire since the Tampa Bay Times’ Howard Altman reported Friday afternoon on a number of reporters who took offense with a crack Buckhorn made at a military conference last week at the Tampa Convention Center.

As Altman originally reported, Buckhorn told the crowd about his experience as a hostage during a demonstration of special operation rescue tactics:

The highlight, he said, was when he was aboard a Navy special warfare boat, firing blanks from 50-caliber machine guns. “And so, the first place I point that gun is at the media,” he told the crowd.

“I’ve never seen grown men cry like little girls, for when that gun goes off those media folks just hit the deck like no one’s business. It’s great payback. I love it.”

Altman reported that the audience — approximately 1,000 people — mostly laughed at the remark. But some in attendance, specifically military reporters who have had live guns pointed at them for real, found nothing humorous about the comment.

Initially, Buckhorn blew off the furor.

It was “a silly reaction,” he told the Times.

But after the story got legs in the national media over the weekend, Buckhorn spokesperson Ashley Bauman responded Monday afternoon.

“This was a story that he had told for three consecutive years,” she said in a statement to FloridaPolitics.com, “and at no time was it ever construed to be serious or an accurate portrayal of what occurred.”

“It was merely a humorous tongue-in-cheek description. Clearly, that does not translate on Twitter and in light of the current rhetoric at the national level aimed at the media, inadvertently served to reinforce some of those sentiments. That was not his intention, in fact, as the son of a former wire service reporter he has nothing but the highest regard for the work of journalists and their profession and he apologizes to those he offended.”

The mayor also offended the sensibilities of some local residents when he typed, “whatever” on Twitter over the weekend in reaction to a tweet by Tampa Heights activist Rick Fernandez on his concerns with the Tampa Bay Express project.

TBX critics not pleased with Bob Buckhorn tweet

Critics of the Tampa Bay Express project are upset with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn over what they say was a “flippant” response to concerns about what the $6 billion project will do to the affected neighborhoods when construction begins.

After reading an interview Buckhorn gave Friday praising the TBX project with the website BusinessFacilities.com, Seminole Heights resident and TBX foe Rick Fernandez sent a tweet to Buckhorn saying, “your continued support for TBX is disturbing and out of touch.”

Buckhorn replied, “Whatever.”

That comment generated responses from other Tampa citizens who oppose TBX, like Chris Vela, who wrote: “PA EJ maps show TBX is est. to affect 115k ethnic/racial minorities out of 180k along our interstates. Not whatever, stand up Mr. Mayor.”

Vela was referring to the potential relocation of residents if the project moves forward as planned.

The Tampa Bay Express is a $6 billion interstate expansion project overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation that would rebuild the exchange between Interstate 275 and Interstate 4 near downtown Tampa. It would also replace the three-mile span of the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge, and most controversially, add 90 miles of tolled “express lanes.”

The project would also raze homes in Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights, and V.M. Ybor. Nearly 80 percent of the registered voters living at properties that DOT plans to demolish are black and Latino, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis.

“A respected neighborhood leader and citizen of Tampa tweeted his surprise and concern regarding Mayor Buckhorn’s statements heartily endorsing the TBX boondoggle – just to be summarily dismissed. When is it ever appropriate for an elected official to publish a response and address a constituent’s legitimate question in such a flippant manner?” asked Michelle Cookson with Sunshine Citizens, the activist group formed to oppose the TBX. “This attitude is astonishing given that Mayor Buckhorn’s constituents have been pleading for him to defend the resurgent urban core for over two years.”

Although initially low-key when FDOT introduced TBX to the public two years ago, Buckhorn said in November of 2015 that he was cognizant of the concerns that neighborhood activists had about the project hurting the neighborhoods where the proposed expansion is to occur, saying, “They recognize that it’s going to have an impact on the community. They realize that Tampa has changed drastically since that plan was created, and so they’ve got to be able to mitigate that, and they can’t put up a barrier that’s going to divide the city. So I think there’s a way to find that middle ground, but I’m thankful that they’re able to reach out to the neighborhood and have that discussion.”

Some members of the Tampa City Council have been more critical.

FDOT officials said last December that they were hitting the “reset button” on the project and intend to take the next couple of years to research and respond to community feedback, and are expected to unveil a revised plan by 2019.

Ashley Bauman, the director of public affairs with the City of Tampa, said Buckhorn had no comment on Saturday.

#3 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — Bob Buckhorn

Although his announcement in early March that he will not be a candidate in 2018 takes away some of his juice, being mayor of the biggest city representing the biggest media market in Florida means Bob Buckhorn will continue to wield power for the next two years.

The biggest question is, perhaps, how will he use that power?

Circumstances bigger than himself have thwarted one of his main missions — seeing Tampa and the Tampa Bay area start to make some improvements on its desultory transportation scene.

“Bob Buckhorn had a vision for our city that has become a reality and a legacy we can all be proud of,” says Democratic strategist and lobbyist Ana Cruz. “His thoughtful accomplishments have turned a desolate downtown into a thriving metropolis where young professionals, families and businesses intersect on our Riverwalk, at Amalie Arena or on the great lawn at Curtis Hixon Park.

“Bob Buckhorn will go down as one of the greatest Mayors in the City of Tampa’s history,” says lobbyist and Democratic fundraiser Justin Day. “His constant drive and dedication to ensuring our city is one of the best in the world, has paid off.  Tampa’s downtown will never look the same, and Mayor Buckhorn is a large reason for that.”

“He would have made one hell of a governor,” Cruz adds wistfully.

Buckhorn’s No. 3 ranking is consistent with his 2016 spot.

Joe Henderson’s Take

“He will go down as one of the great mayors of Tampa and I’m in the camp that believes Buckhorn would have made an outstanding governor. When he chose not to run though, it opened up all kinds of questions. One juicy conspiracy theory involves Congresswoman Kathy Castor. If she gives up her seat to run for mayor of Tampa, would Buckhorn consider running for Congress? I’ve known him a long time and the man does like the big stage.”

For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.

 

Kathy Castor dismisses rumors she is thinking of a run for Tampa mayor

Kathy Castor is not interested in running for Tampa mayor in 2019.

Elected in November to a sixth term in Congress representing Hillsborough County, the idea that Castor was contemplating leaving Washington to succeed Bob Buckhorn was floated by Patrick Manteiga in his La Gaceta column late last month.

On Tuesday, Castor dismissed such speculation.

“You know, I love my hometown, and I’m in a fabulous position to be able to advocate for my hometown,” she told FloridaPolitics.com. “And that’s what I intend to do — stay right where I am, if the voters will continue to have confidence in me.”

Castor was elected in the Democratic wave of 2006, when the party stunningly picked up 31 seats, putting them back in charge of the House of Representatives for the first time since the Newt Gingrich-led Republican party took over the House some 12 years earlier.

Castor won the open seat left vacant by Jim Davis’s decision to run for governor by winning a primary over four Democrats, including current County Commission Chairman Les Miller.

Florida’s 14th Congressional District seat is considered to “lean strongly Democratic,” though the most recent redistricting before last year’s elections reduced the Democratic advantage in Florida from roughly 14 percent to 7 percent.

Republicans retook the House in 2010, but with Democrat Barack Obama in the White House, Castor was able to maintain some influence, most notably in the president’s decision in December of 2014 to reestablish relations with Cuba. That effort was paved in part by Castor’s 2013 announcement that it was time to end the economic embargo against the Communist island nation.

In doing so, she became the first elected official in Florida to make such a declaration since sanctions took place more than fifty years earlier.

Castor currently serves as the Vice-Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, one of the first committees to review the first iteration of the American Health Care Act, the House GOP health care plan designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The AHCA passed the House earlier this month.

Buckhorn’s second and final term in office as mayor is slated to end April 2019, with nearly two years until Tampa voters will be asked to decide on his successor.

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