David Straz Jr. didn’t say anything wrong during the kickoff for his self-funded campaign to be Tampa’s Mayor. Give the billionaire philanthropist that much.
But as he outlined his platform in a one-minute, 52-second video, he didn’t say much that would get anyone excited either. There were a lot of platitudes and a bunch of real non-specific stuff, like this:
“We need a commonsense approach to protect our quality of life. That means focusing on people, not politics,” he said.
What exactly does that mean?
When is the last time anyone running for public office said, “You know what? We really need a whacked-out approach that will screw up everything that is good about our city. I’m going to focus on grabbing all the gold I can, and I can promise the people this: As long as you don’t ask too many questions, I won’t bother you again until it’s time to re-elect me.”
And, with all respect to Mr. Straz, if he is successful in winning, politics will be a skill he will have to master. He will have to work with people he may not like and cannot make them go away. As Mayor, he won’t wield the same authority as someone in charge of a large corporation.
A Mayor can’t just fire people because they disagree with him, no matter what “the big guy himself” (channeling my inner Ron DeSantis) in Washington would have people believe. I mean, Jeff Sessions still has a job. Robert Mueller still has a job.
Yes sir, Mr. Straz, politics are important in running a city.
David Straz, at age 75, has lived a successful life and has given back to his community. I mean, the musical Hamilton is coming next year to the terrific performing arts center in downtown Tampa that bears his name.
Drop the mic, sir.
It’s fine that he wants to choose public service, but the video bugged me on a couple of levels.
Start with the part where he said, “I am the only candidate for Mayor who has managed a large, complex institution anywhere close to the size of the city of Tampa.”
Well, he clearly is a successful businessman who built a chain of community banks in Wisconsin after sweeping floors and mowing lawns as a teenager to make some cash. He moved to Tampa in 1980, got married, sold his businesses, and started a charitable foundation.
But other candidates, including former Police Chief Jane Castor, have run large, complex institutions too. Try being a gay female in charge of a metropolitan police department. Castor did so admirably.
He also said:
“I’m a proven job creator, and I believe our city government, colleges and universities, and the business community must work together to create jobs in Tampa. That means encouraging start-ups, growing existing small businesses, recruiting Fortune 500 companies, and attracting high-paying jobs.”
Well, that’s kind of already being done.
Two-term Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been doing pretty much everything that Straz said needs to be done. The city’s downtown looks nothing like it did when he took office. He has recruited big companies, supported small business expansion, and tried hard to bring high-tech jobs here.
I know, it’s early.
The Tampa mayoral election isn’t until March 2019, and it is being starved of oxygen now by the statewide elections – especially the Governor’s race. In pushing so hard, maybe David Straz has been told he needs to introduce himself to get some name recognition.
But as we go along, I hope we hear some more specifics.
This is a job that is accountable to the people. And the people are in charge.