TAMPA — Jane Castor promised to be both a trailblazer and a reliable guide to the city's future Wednesday in a speech before a packed reception hall at one of the city's buzzy new venues.
Castor, 59, gave a 15-minute address that praised her predecessor and enthusiastic supporter, outgoing Mayor Bob Buckhorn, but charted her own path in the "next chapter in the success story that is Tampa."
The city's first openly gay mayor vowed that the most racially and economically diverse city in Tampa Bay will underpin her first four-year term as mayor.
"The values we share — diversity, equality and opportunity — are the same values that have guided my career from the first day as a beat cop to may last day as chief of police. It is those values that will guide me as your mayor," she said to a standing-room only crowd in the The Gathering reception hall at Armature Works, the entertainment and social hub on the east bank of the Hillsborough River just north of downtown.
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Castor laid out a vision for her administration with a literary blueprint. She extolled Ybor City, East Tampa, West Tampa, baseball and cigars as the setting. She said the city's diversity and pluckiness were its characters and promised not to bore.
"We're not going to write a subtle little storyline. We're going to swing for the rafters," she said.
The city's 59th mayor praised Buckhorn's era as having all the elements of a best seller, but promised to chart her own path on transit, attracting innovative jobs and finding a solution to the city's growing affordable housing problem.
"Much of Tampa's story has yet to be written, and how we write this chapter, our chapter and how we tackle our biggest challenges will largely determine our fate," she said.
And she promised to be the principal writer of that chapter, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos were in attednance, as well as all of Tampa's living former mayors.
The standing-room crowd that spilled into other parts of the venue was more than 1,500 estimated city spokeswoman Ashley Bauman.
The seven City Council members were also sworn in by U.S. District Court Judge Mary Scriven, who told newly elected member John Dingfelder to face her on the stage.
"I know you like to turn left, John," Scriven quipped, drawing laughter.
The non-partisan mayor and council posts are traditionally dominated by Democrats in the heavily Democratic city.
When swearing in Castor, Scriven said usually mayors are asked to be the leader of the whole city, not just those who voted for them.
"But, in your case, that' s just about everybody," Scriven said.
Castor defeated retired banker David Straz on April 23 in a landslide 73-27 percentage point margin.
The 31-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department now takes the helm of the state's third-largest city.