Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Editorial: Three mayors united for Tampa Bay

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos built strong ties.
SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
Left to Right: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos talk during a luncheon of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club on Thursday at the Feather Sound Country Club
SCOTT KEELER | Times Left to Right: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos talk during a luncheon of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club on Thursday at the Feather Sound Country Club
Published Jan. 18, 2019

The mayors of Tampa Bay's three largest cities held their final public chat this week, underscoring again how far the region has come in appreciating its shared future. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos are different political animals dealing with distinct constituencies. Their cities have their own charms and challenges. But they have created the best relationships ever among the region's big-city mayors, and they have built a strong foundation for their successors to work collaboratively to address transportation, water resources, the Tampa Bay Rays and other regional priorities.

Thursday's lunch before a friendly crowd of civic activists in Clearwater was a final joint appearance before Buckhorn leaves office in May. With Kriseman serving his final term and Cretekos departing next year, it was a chance for the trio to trade gentle pokes and reinforce the strength of their relationships. While the cities have their own agendas, the mayors can come together on issues of regional concern. And where they disagree, these mayors have forged an easy and effective channel of communication, building a rapport that promotes understanding if not always unanimous agreement on regional issues.

Transportation. Hillsborough County's approval of a 30-year transportation tax in November will focus attention there to improvements in local service. But Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties have worked for years on improving regional transportation. Hillsborough must continue to support connecting the region's major cities with modern mass transit options, including express bus or train service over the area bridges. While the citizen-led transportation referendum in Hillsborough may offer some lessons, that momentum — and a major private effort to promote it — has yet to surface in Pinellas and Pasco. Hillsborough should operate its transportation fund so that it becomes a model for other areas and be willing to take the lead on regional connectivity.

Water. Buckhorn will ask the regional utility Tampa Bay Water again in February to approve Tampa's plan to send highly treated wastewater into the regional water supply. The move could guarantee Tampa's water needs for the immediate term, provide the region with the water it needs to grow and save area governments millions of dollars in avoided water projects costs. St. Petersburg has raised some environmental concerns and fears the move could pave the way for Tampa to leave the cooperative. Unless the impasse is broken next month, the standoff will fall to Buckhorn's successor to convince the region the plan is a win-win. The future of Tampa Bay Water should not be compromised.

Rays. While St. Petersburg's agreement allowing the Rays to explore a new stadium site in Hillsborough has expired, but the team and Hillsborough's business and political leadership made significant progress before the Rays decided not to seek an extension of the pact to keep negotiating directly. The clock is ticking on the lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, which expires in 2027. Hillsborough should independently keep improving its pitch, St. Petersburg should decide how it wants to proceed — and the community deserves a clearer answer from the Rays. Cooperation, not competition, among the cities will be the key to keeping Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay.

It would be unrealistic to expect the mayors to always see eye-to-eye, and these three exercise power differently and have their own agendas. But they have advanced the cause of regional unity by talking openly, developing relationships and sending a positive common message. That commitment is an example their successors should follow.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Leonard Pitts [undefined]
    Leonard Pitts explains that diversity doesn’t happen by itself.
  2. San Francisco has benefited from the growth of nearby Silicon Valley. That metro area added 30,000 jobs in the past year.
    Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
  3. Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools this month in Tallahassee. [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers have to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
  4. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis waves to members of the Florida Legislature during a joint session of lawmakers this week. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
  5. Presiding Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. [AP]
    Here’s what readers are saying in Monday’s letters to the editor.
  6. Jomari DeLeon, is pictured at at Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida August 7, 2019. Jomari is three years into a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking. She sold 48 tablets of prescription tablets over two days to an undercover officer. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times]
    Women, Hispanics and residents from smaller counties are disproportionately serving long drug sentences that are no longer in place.
  7. Thousands of trees line the Hillsborough River near Wilderness park in Hillsborough County in Tampa. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Many of Florida’s problems originate with that ‘motto,’ writes historian Gary Mormino.
  8. First meeting of U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr. and their two wives — Patricia Nixon and Coretta Scott King — during Independence Day celebrations in Accra, Ghana, on March 6, 1957, on the tails of the end of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott. It was the first trip to Africa of all of them. [Photo by Griff Davis on assignment as U.S. Foreign Service Officer by U.S. Information Service (USIS). Copyright and courtesy of Griffith J. Davis Photographs & Archives.]
    Griff Davis’ daughter recounts how the photographer and Foreign Service officer captured a famous photo of King and Richard Nixon.
  9. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman speak at a summit held by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's Resiliency Coalition this month in St. Petersburg. [LANGSTON TAYLOR  |  Times staff]
    Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman should lead an effort for robust regional transit.
  10. Vehicle traffic is seen along Bayshore Boulevard at a crosswalk at South Dakota Avenue in Tampa. Several intersections have pedestrian-activated beacons.
    A bill would end the confusion and save lives by making crosswalk signals red.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement