TAMPA -- Mayor Bob Buckhorn voted early on Tuesday, for the candidate he hopes will carry out the legacy of his eight years in office.
“I’m going to vote for the person I think is best equipped and best ready to carry that agenda forward," Buckhorn said at his polling place, Marjorie Park Marina on Davis Islands.
He said he’s keeping the name secret, as he has in the months leading up to Tuesday’s citywide election, but not for much longer.
A runoff election is scheduled for April 23 between Tuesday’s top two vote-getters, unless one candidate receives 50 percent of the ballots cast -- an unlikely prospect in the view of most observers.
“I fully intend to have a voice in the runoff,” Buckhorn said. “This community has moved too far and I’ve worked too hard to allow that momentum to be either destroyed or deterred in any way.”
He added, “I think people have bought into where we are and where we’re going and I think they’re going to want to know what I think. So i will offer an opinion and they can choose to do with it what they want.”
The Times asked Buckhorn to comment on criticism some mayoral candidates have leveled at his administration.
“I think some of it’s unfortunate, some of it is inaccurate," he said. "Some of it is just designed to divide people, not unite people. Oftentimes the first casualty in a campaign is the truth, and we've seen some of that."
Voters, he said, "are more than capable of sifting through who's prepared to lead and who's got the experience."
“You can’t carpet bomb your way into this job,” he said. “You can’t buy into this job. People need to know that you care, they need to know that you know the neighborhoods. They need to know that you know what the challenges are and you’re not just reading of cue cards.”
A new survey showed former police chief Jane Castor with a sizable lead in an election likely to come down to two candidates. In a poll of 540 likely Tampa voters conducted by St. Pete Polls over the weekend, Castor was backed by 35.9 percent of the respondents who either planned to vote or had already cast a ballot.
Second place was considerably more fluid, with retired Hillsborough County judge Dick Greco Jr., retired banker and philanthropist David Straz and City Council member Harry Cohen in the mix for a spot in an April 23 runoff.
Rain was falling in some areas of the city shortly after polls opened at 7 a.m. Polls are open until 7 p.m.
Stay with tampabay.com for updates.