TAMPA — Mayor Jane Castor has a cakewalk to a second term. Her lone opponent, a write-in candidate, won’t appear on the ballot, virtually assuring the mayor will win a second term on March 7.
With her first term nearly in the books, Castor was asked if she had anything she would have done differently. Her answer: communication.
“I wouldn’t say that there’s any one big issue where I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ … I think it’s like the overarching communication. I’m always trying to work on that,” Castor said in a wide-ranging interview with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board on Tuesday.
Part of the problem may be her 30-plus-year career as a police officer, she said, which can lead her to think “just sort of make a decision and forge ahead.”
As for her legacy when she leaves office, which will be 2027 if she serves a full second term, the mayor mentioned efforts to improve the city’s sustainability and resiliency, but acknowledged they are piecemeal and lack a signature project.
As for the fate of a key piece of that environmental vision, Castor said it remains a high priority for her to win support to convert more than 50 million gallons of highly treated reclaimed water into water clean enough to drink and replenish the Hillsborough River and springs.
She did say she thinks securing the drinking water supply in a growing community is important.
“I’m not into the legacy. I just like to get things done, and if somebody else wants to take credit for it, that’s fine with me. But I … firmly believe that generations down the road will turn back and go, if we don’t do anything will be like, ‘What were those people thinking?’” Castor said.
The fate of the water project hangs on City Council approval. Castor said Tuesday the yearslong strife between her and City Council really came down to “one individual on City Council.” She later acknowledged she was referring to council member Bill Carlson, who calls the water project “toilet to tap.”
Castor said she planned on endorsing candidates in the March council races, including “more than likely” supporting Blake Casper, a McDonald’s franchise heir who was a last-minute challenger to Carlson in South Tampa’s District 4.
And the mayor also said she is reviewing with her staff how vocal a role she’ll play in campaigning against four proposed charter change amendments to curb the power of her office. She vetoed the proposals but council members overrode her last week.
On another matter, Castor said, despite the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitch to redevelop St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field — including with a new stadium — she thinks the team most wants a new home in the urban core around Ybor City. She said she thinks the Ybor properties owned by Darryl Shaw and his partners are a likely spot if they don’t win support in St. Petersburg.
“They’ve said, and I believe them, that they want to be in the city of Tampa. But I don’t think they’re going to pass up a deal if they get the land for free in St. Pete. So good luck to Mayor Welch. If it doesn’t work out, and they want to come over here, it’s clearly going to cost them a lot more for a stadium,” Castor said.
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Castor, 63, was the city’s police chief for more than six years before retiring in 2015. She bested six opponents in 2019 to become mayor. This year, Belinda Noah, an attorney who has run unsuccessfully for several political offices, is the write-in candidate.