TAMPA—A constant refrain at campaign events in the recently concluded mayoral election was the sorry state of the city’s neighborhood liaison efforts.
What had once been a seven person department had dwindled, through recession-era budget cuts, to just one employee. Mayor Jane Castor, along with many of her rivals, pledged to beef up City Hall’s version of eyes and ears in the city’s 70-plus neighborhoods.
On Wednesday, Castor took the first step towards fulfilling that promise. Castor announced that longtime Tampa Police Department spokeswoman Janelle McGregor and Castor campaign aide, Ebone Clifton, have been hired to bolster the city’s community outreach efforts.
McGregor, 36, has been a spokeswoman for the Tampa Police Department since 2007. She will be the manager of Community Partnerships, earning $84,094.
“I’m extremely humbled by this next chapter in my service to the Tampa community. This new role affords me the opportunity to take Mayor Castor’s vision of community partnerships to new levels that will ensure everyone has a chance to benefit from the growth that’s taking place in our city," McGregor wrote in an email.
Castor said McGregor has plenty of experience in a variety of roles, making her invaluable to the city.
“Janelle is an amazing addition to our neighborhoods team. Over the last 15 years, I’ve seen her command respect from everyone she’s crossed paths with. Her passion, drive, and commitment to this great city has made her a star utility player throughout the community. I look forward to seeing her flourish as she takes on this next role,” Castor said in a statement.
Clifton, 35, is also known as Ebone Cruz for her work as a local radio personality on WTMP 1150 Tom Joyner Morning show. She’ll make $60,000 a year as a neighborhood coordinator.
“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to transition from the campaign to the City of Tampa team and help Mayor Castor see out her vision of increasing neighborhood engagement through laser focused collaboration. This new role will allow me the opportunity to build long-term sustainable relationships and bridge the gap throughout the neighborhoods and ensure everyone is included in the growth of the city,” Clifton wrote in an email.
Castor said in a statement that Clifton will bring fresh energy to connecting with residents.
“Ebone’s energetic personality will help bring about an added sense of excitement to the initiatives we’re putting in place to educate and empower the young people in our neighborhoods. Her ability to establish quality relationships with all individuals will go a long way in our efforts to bring the community together, while ensuring residents in every neighborhood have improved access to city resources,” the statement read.
Their exact duties are still being worked out. The city’s organizational chart is still in flux, said Castor spokeswoman Ashley Bauman.