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Jane Castor becomes Tampa’s 59th Mayor

About 1,500 showed up to celebrate a historic moment in Tampa’s history.

Jane Castor became Tampa’s 59th Mayor during an oath-of-office ceremony at Armature Works in West Tampa.

About 1,500 showed up Wednesday morning to celebrate a historic moment in Tampa’s story as the city’s first lesbian Mayor took office. The gathering area where her ceremony took place was packed beyond capacity with hundreds more people watching on television monitors in an overflow room.

The setting was significant.

About five years ago, former Mayor Bob Buckhorn delivered a State of the City Address there. Then, Armature Works was nothing but a broken down shell of an old trolley station. Ulele and Water Works Park were both under construction.

At the time, Armature Works was “a dream, a prologue, to what Tampa could become,” Castor said. “It represented a vision for the city that now hosts Fortune 500 companies, global airlines, Super Bowls and national collegiate sporting events.”

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Much of Castor’s speech painted a rosy image of the city’s future, sharing optimism for transportation solutions, workforce development, and affordable housing.

“While some Tampa neighborhoods have seen improvement and prosperity,” Castor said, “others have not.”

Castor vowed to identify transportation solutions that work for every neighborhood and develop a “diverse portfolio” of good paying jobs in every area of the city.

“But when Tampa’s story is complete, Mayor Buckhorn will be remembered as the person who brought us through a brutal recession and lifted our city to incredible new heights.

“This is Tampa, after all, so we aren’t going to write a subtle storyline. We are going to swing for the rafters to attack the biggest challenges facing our city.

“Everyone deserves to live in a home they can be proud of and in a neighborhood of their choice,” Castor said.

To do that, Castor asked for community support.

“If we work together to shape and craft Tampa’s next chapter, focusing on our rich and diverse settings, big and bold plot, and rich and round characters, we’ll be sure to leave a historic mark on Tampa’s story,” Castor said.

But “continued success is not inevitable,” she cautioned.

“How we write this next chapter … will largely determine our fate,” Castor said.

Castor also weighed in on the historic nature of her election and significance for the local, national and global LGBTQ community.

“I will as I have always accept the responsibility to be a role model for others. I have always simplified my life by aiming to do the right thing for the reason,” Castor said.

She also quoted Martin Luther King Jr., hoping that the city will get to a point where “everyone is judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.”

She added that no one should lose their life over the God they worship and that people should be free to love whom they choose.

Castor also paid homage to Buckhorn, praising him for his visionary work leading the city for the last eight years.

“When Tampa’s story is complete, Mayor Buckhorn will be remembered as the person who brought us through a brutal recession and lifted our city to incredible new heights,” Castor said.

She ended her inaugural speech with reference to a famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.

“With the help and support of my family, friends and my faith, I will continue striving to follow not where the path may lead, but instead where there is not a path. And I’ll leave a trail.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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