For Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, his past year started with a smashing re-election victory, a high note that soured fast as political setbacks arose. His standing in this year’s survey fell from 2 to 3.
In his re-election, Buckhorn took nearly 96 percent of the vote against virtually no competition: He defeated a write-in candidate.
A tough spring and summer followed, however. The pain began as the Tampa Bay Times reported disproportional citations of black bicyclists by the Tampa Police Department. The rate set off alarms when compared with the rest of the city’s general population. That led to the U.S. Justice Department investigating the TPD and a report has not yet public.
Then battles flared with liberal activists over the creation of a police citizens review board.
A TV news report on the influence of Beth Leytham, one of the mayor’s closest advisers, broke in early September. WTSP Channel 10’s Noah Pransky’s report included an exchange caught on video between Pransky and the mayor that nobody would call one of Hizzoner’s finest moments.
By the end of the year, though, Buckhorn seemed to have shaken off those battles. He took time off the first week of February to go stump in chilly New Hampshire for Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“Under his leadership, Tampa has a great story to tell,” Democratic strategist and lobbyist Ana Cruz said. “His ability to work with both Republicans and Democrats at a local, state, and federal level to better our city has resulted in unprecedented funding and growth for Tampa.”
The Tampa mayor, who continues to see his national profile expand, says he’s still considering the possibility of running for governor in 2018.
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