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Hey Mr. New Mayor, want some advice?

What seems like the longest mayor's race in history is over, with voters decisively picking Mayor Bob for the job.

So what did we learn on the way to electing former mayor's aide and City Council member Bob Buckhorn to run Tampa? And what advice might those who have occupied the same seat have for the new guy?

First, a sad fact we learned. Again.

We don't show up.

A mere 22 percent of voters turned out for the first round of city elections, with just six ballots cast out of 1,239 registered voters at one University of South Florida precinct. Tuesday's numbers looked similarly low, and it wasn't even raining. Sigh.

Mayor-For-A-Little-Longer Pam Iorio doesn't get it either. She says she feels like on a daily basis, "more than 22 percent care about my job performance."

Former Mayor Dick Greco, who surprised us by being ousted in the first go-round, said people tell him they didn't vote then because they assumed he'd make the runoff.

Talk about a reason to sigh.

What else did we learn? Maybe a person can grow up and get better.

I never bought candidate Rose Ferlita calling Buckhorn "elitist." But he did bear baggage from that long-ago campaign to keep strip club dancers 6 feet from patrons, a pretty low priority for most of us. In this election, between talking about jobs and such, Buckhorn handled that old issue with humility and humor (maybe it should have been a 3-foot rule?). Political points for that.

Greco told me on election day he saw that the governor got booed at a recent baseball game, something "not helpful in any way, shape or form." That is the best of Greco, who is all about coming together, especially now.

His advice to Mayor Newest? Consistently explain what you're going to do before you do it — particularly with tough decisions like pension issues — and why. Be hopeful but don't promise too much. "The more we're together in what we're proposing and the more the public understands, the better off we'll be," he says.

Says former Mayor Sandy Freedman: "I think the best advice is take it slow."

Notably, the new mayor will also be the Not-Iorio. Walk with her as I did the other day and you see she is a rock star of sorts, greeted by strangers and friends and random drivers who honk their horns and implore her not to go.

Her own advice is as practical as her eight years of running the place: Don't just react, as politicians are wont to do. Decisions live with a city for decades. Move thoughtfully. You may get criticized for lacking the quick fix. Learn to absorb it, she says.

Also, as she often says, you have to love the city. That's a given.

Finally, advice they did not give but I will: Once in a while, leave. Walk out. Cross busy downtown streets to the sprawling park your predecessor saw to completion in some of the worst economic times many of us have known.

Most days, kids from neighborhoods from Hyde Park to College Hill are splashing in the fountains. People are walking dogs and eating lunch and strolling between museums. Grass slopes to the Hillsborough River beyond.

It's not as grand a project as in fat times past. But to borrow a slogan from this blessedly over mayor's race, it's a park "for all of Tampa," and maybe that has something to do with what being mayor is about.

Hey Mr. New Mayor, want some advice? 03/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:32pm]
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