TAMPA — The Tampa mayor's race has another candidate.
Public affairs consultant Bob Buckhorn said he will file papers with the elections office today.
He said he wants Tampa to be a place where his two young daughters will want to live when they grow up.
"You can't get there by looking in the rear-view mirror. You can't get there by settling for what's comfortable. You really have to reach for what's possible, and Tampa is a city of possibilities," Buckhorn said when he made his announcement Sunday on Political Connections on Bay News 9.
He frequently offers political commentary as a Democratic analyst on the Sunday morning program, but will take a break from those duties during the campaign.
Buckhorn is a former council member who fought for the city's famous "6-foot rule" for lap dances. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2003.
City Council Chairman Tom Scott and former police Capt. Marion Lewis are also running for mayor in the March 2011 election. Mayor Pam Iorio, first elected in 2003, is term-limited out of the post.
Boosting the economy will be the most important task for Tampa's next mayor, Buckhorn said.
And a key part of addressing the issue is bringing light rail to Tampa, which will create jobs and spur development, he said. While growing up in Falls Church, Va., near Washington, Buckhorn saw firsthand the impact rail has on communities.
"They put a Metro stop a half-mile from my house. Literally, there was a little city that sprung up around that, that employed people, that had retail on the ground floor, had hotels up above it, had condos above the hotel," he said.
Taxes generated by the new development will shore up the city's shrinking budget, which has forced Iorio to eliminate jobs and cut services in recent years.
"We have to grow our way out of this problem," Buckhorn said. "When the boom times come, you've got to keep that government small and invest those revenues in infrastructure and providing an environment where businesses can grow and succeed, where entrepreneurs are celebrated. Not where government grows, but where we create wealth and value."
Buckhorn said he would do that by re-examining the city's "fundamental structural things," such as permitting and other business regulations.
Scott started his campaign for mayor one year ago. Elected to the City Council in 2007 after eight years as a Hillsborough County commissioner, he is serving his third year as chairman of the council. He also chaired the County Commission.
Scott said the experience heading legislative bodies distinguishes him from Buckhorn as well as the other rumored mayoral candidates.
They include County Commissioner Rose Ferlita, former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, developer Ed Turanchik and former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco.
Greco recently made a very public appearance as a speaker at the event where Gov. Charlie Crist announced he would run for a U.S. Senate seat with no party affiliation instead of as a Republican.
Turanchik now works for a consultant to the Florida Rail Enterprise, handling public outreach efforts for a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando and Miami.
Davis serves on the board of Moving Hillsborough Forward, a political action committee created to promote a 1-cent sales tax to help pay for rail, increased bus service and road improvements in Hillsborough County.
Ferlita will participate Thursday in a crucial rail vote. That's when Hillsborough County commissioners will vote at a public hearing on putting the transportation sales tax on the ballot in November.
Janet Zink can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3401.