TAMPA — State of the City speeches are usually long, detail-oriented and adulatory.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman does one every year. So did former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
But Mayor Jane Castor went Hollywood.
Skipping a live speech in front of supporters and reporters, Castor released an 8 minute, 34 second Facebook Live “premier” Wednesday morning, taking viewers on a drive outlining Castor’s priorities and accomplishments — literally.
The “spoiler” should be obvious from the opening scene, when the mayor answers a call at her desk to go pick up mystery guests from Tampa International Airport.
Grab your popcorn or Twizzlers. You’ll want to watch this performance.
After getting the pick-up call, Castor drives herself to TIA. At this point, I’m asking: Where’s her driver, Mike Victor?
But no time to quibble over poetic license. The mayor is on the move.
She points out all the piled-up dirt and construction sites on the way to retrieving her guests. She glides into Arrivals and handles the luggage like a pro.
Then, the travelogue portion of the movie begins.
After a nod to Buckhorn’s eight years at the helm (the popular former mayor endorsed her and campaigned hard for her 2019 win), Castor says: “The city has changed so much in really the last decade.”
How so? Well, a construction boom spawned the $3 billion Water Street project, she informs us. And there are new Publix Supermarkets popping up everywhere.
“I love my Publix,” the mayor says.
Still piloting her mystery guests through Tampa, with an eye on the road and two hands on the wheel (mostly), Castor sings a song of diversity and unity through the city’s many neighborhoods.
West Tampa? Lots of new residential units and good restaurants.
East Tampa? Rehab and repair of older homes is a priority.
“A great sign of the growth in Tampa,” Castor says about West Tampa. But, really, it was her point all along the way.
And there’s also slow motion footage of young adults playing ping pong to drive home the point: Millennials love Tampa, too.
Next up? Ten thousand new units of affordable housing. Or, workforce housing. But,10,000 units by 2027, and they’ll be “affordable,” Castor promises.
The mayor wraps it up with an appeal to newcomers, or maybe those contemplating an escape from state income taxes — not to mention cold winters.
Tampa’s quality of life and cost of living are draws, sure, Castor says.
But the real secret, she tells her mystery guests?
Tampa is the “friendliest city in the nation.”
Tour over. And Castor does the big reveal.
She’s been driving the Stanley Cup and the Super Bowl’s Lombardi trophy the whole time!
Plus, the American League Championship trophy (or is it a samovar?) and the Tampa Bay Rowdies Eastern Conference Champions trophy, all sharing the back seat in her SUV.
Again, check out Mayor Jane Castor’s movie, 2021 State of the City.
It’s got everything: driving, milestones and trophies. And the mayor.