Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn used his first state of the city address Tuesday to harness the power of civic pride. Under a blazing sun at Curtis Hixon Park, and against the backdrop of the minarets at Plant Hall and the Hillsborough River, the mayor painted Tampa as a city on the move. He implored the crowd to think boldly about the city it wants in 20 years. It was a pep rally with all of the over-the-top trappings, from police boats on the water to U2 on the speakers. And it served as a reminder that the environment Buckhorn wants to change is as philosophical as much as it is bricks and mortar.
The mayor ticked off his modest accomplishments. He has cut red tape and made the bureaucracy more responsive. He is exploring how in this slow economy to proceed in incremental chunks with a downtown-area redevelopment plan. And he is capitalizing on the impact of hosting the Republican National Convention this summer. Buckhorn has promoted a mind-set that better times are around the corner.
The coming year, of course, will put his rhetoric to the test. But projecting a confident, forward-looking approach is important when other mayors in other cities are biting their nails.