Our new mayor is Jane Castor, a former police captain and a member of the LBGTQ community. She brings to the mayor’s job a tough stance on crime, an even tempered stance on equality and an open mind on economic diversity. Castor has high ideals of what her city should look like in the next ten years. She has presented a budget to the City Council and looks to them to support her bold vision.
With a little more than one billion dollars, $1.04 billion in fact, the mayor’s proposal for her new budget includes, a set aside of $11.8 million for improvements in transportation and another $9.5 million for affordable housing. One of her concerns is building and sustaining the reserve fund for a rainy day and it rains a lot in Tampa. Former mayor Bob Buckhorn left her with almost 4 million in surplus to start off her new administration so she is already beginning from a position of strength. In her first 90 days in the seat as Mayor, she responded to several questions from N-TOUCH News and here are a few excerpts of what she had to say.
Daryl Johnson: How do you plan on keeping some of the promises made?
Mayor Castor - I said that I would focus on those issues that are the most important to our city. And those are Transportation, Affordable Housing, Workforce Development. Then looking at our resiliency and sustainability, ensuring that our city is positioned to face the challenges of climate change. Also, focus on reducing our carbon footprint here in the city, clearly to continue with the thoughtful development that’s been put in place and is really sprouting up all over the city.
Daryl Johnson What’s your plan on improving Transportation?
Mayor Castor: - currently our street repaving is on a 75-year schedule. So we just do not have the funding to provide the transportation solutions that go all the way from elements that can be looked at as quick fixes, you know sidewalk construction, especially beginning it at the schools and moving outward, looking at repaving of our streets, looking at complete streets making our roadways safer for the motoring public, also for the cyclist and pedestrians out in our community. Then focusing on larger issues; what we can do with mass transportation, our bus system needs a complete overhaul. So it’s exciting to be a part of the heartbeat and to oversee those changes in the implementation of a of a reliable bus service that will go into neighborhoods that have never seen nor had that service…
Daryl Johnson: Talk to me about Affordable Housing.
Mayor Castor: - Affordable housing is a critical issue in our community ……. the last thing that we can have happened is to have our citizens pushed out of Tampa because they can’t afford the rising cost of housing while rates, wages stay stagnant. So, I’m focused on affordable housing and I’m going to do everything that I can to ensure that we have affordable housing available to all of our citizens....the Tampa Housing Authority right now has a three-year waiting list …… .as a city we’ve been hamstrung somewhat by the state because a lot of that funding .... has been cut dramatically
Daryl Johnson: On Workforce Development.
Mayor Castor: What we have to do in East & West Tampa is first and foremost provide good jobs, that has a living wage and that’s why one of my areas of focus is Workforce Development. We have a great deal of development that’s in place right now and will continue into the future but we don’t have the skilled labor force for that…… .
We have to change the mindset that says everyone has to go to college because that’s not necessarily the case. You could get training in one of these skilled laborers field and then pay your way through college so you’re not saddled with debt, to provide those good paying jobs that will allow for the purchase of a home that will allow for the sustainment of any retail that you bring into a community as well. It’s something that I intend to focus on. East Tampa and West Tampa won’t be a short-term fix. It is going to be a long-term Improvement. Workforce Development is a good program to help develop employees.
While the first 90 days is just a short period of time for an assessment, you can tell a lot about an administration within the first 3 to 6 months. Right now I see her transitioning from campaign mode to implementation mode. I believe you will see more inclusion than past administrations. I expect great changes to come from Mayor Castor and we will hold her accountable! From me, she gets an A for effort and community participation.
CLICK BELOW to listen to the full interview right here on N-TOUCHNews.com!