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After lifetime in politics, Mayor Iorio's new job: author, speaker

If I was allowed to make it up, this column might begin like this:

TAMPA — Like Rocky Balboa in low-heeled pumps and a sensible suit, soon-to-leave-office Mayor Pam Iorio is preparing for a fight to oust Rick Scott from the governor's mansion.

Or: Tampa's soon-to-be-ex-mayor will take the helm of a major university.

Or: Iorio is eyeing a run for the Legislature on a platform to make dysfunctional functional.

But no. Turns out Iorio's next job will be (drumroll, please): Leadership speaker/author.

Not as flashy as politics, but then neither is substance-over-style Iorio. This is the workaday mayor who kept us afloat in a wretched economy, who oversaw an epic drop in crime and who leaves office at the end of the month with 87 percent of voters liking her in a recent poll.

So yes, at 51 and after 26 years in public office, she probably does have a thing or two to say.

Iorio plans to be a "leadership speaker and adviser," making a business out of what she has learned as a county commissioner, elections supervisor and mayor, and traveling to speak to corporations and other organizations about it.

She also has a book in the works to include everything from an insider view of the Bush-Gore presidential race to balancing private and public life to dealing with the deaths of four police officers. She would reveal neither the title nor her co-writer. She hopes to have it out by June.

Her final days as mayor are a flurry of cutting ribbons and accepting plaques. Her files have been sent to the University of South Florida's special collections, and she will soon take home the signed Bart Starr football and the photo of her throwing out the first pitch at Legends Field. This week, she does it again for the last time as mayor. She does not flinch at the prospect of throwing straight and hard, having grown up tossing balls with her dad, the late USF professor John Iorio.

For achievements, she can point to the Riverwalk, the new museums and the downtown park, but she also talks about the big improvements to 40th Street, a boon to east Tampa neighborhoods that have not always gotten their share of attention.

Will it be different, post-mayorhood? When she is an author/speaker, will it take her twice as long as the rest of us to stop for milk because everyone wants to talk to Mayor Pam?

She has belonged to the public too long to know, but here is a tiny detail of her new life you can appreciate if you have ever been similarly constrained by propriety and fashion: She will be able to on occasion ditch the pantyhose.

She has slowed enough for evening walks. She and her husband have even spotted manatees poking their snoots up in the waters off Bayshore Boulevard, their new address.

Not that it has been all long last looks. Last week, she reversed a decision not to endorse in the race to replace her when things started getting ugly. She has been front and center in efforts to save high-speed rail from the governor's death blow.

Which brings us to those rumors. No, the mayor-for-just-a-little-longer says firmly, running for governor (or anything else) is not her plan. But she also mentions one of those life lessons she'll likely be talking about in her new gig.

"Close no doors," says Iorio, soon to be on to the next chapter.

After lifetime in politics, Mayor Iorio's new job: author, speaker 03/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:24pm]
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