TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor will be Tampa’s next mayor, winning in a landslide victory in the mayoral runoff election.
Castor defeated former businessman and philanthropist David Straz in Tuesday’s runoff by a whopping margin, gaining more than 73% of the 53,144 votes cast.
"I think it sent a resounding message that Tampa is a positive community," Castor said to reporters after giving her victory speech, which came within 30 minutes of polls closing.
"We don't appreciate the negativity. We focus here on embracing our diversity and on lifting each other up."
Addressing a huge crowd of supporters at The Vault in downtown Tampa, Castor talked about her long-time partner, Ana Cruz, a well-known Florida lobbyist whom she credited with great insight on how to run her first campaign.
"She was everything," Castor said. "I've never been involved in campaign before, that's her wheelhouse. She knows how to run a positive campaign."
The references to positivity were a clear acknowledgement that her opponent chose to air negative attack ads throughout most of the runoff, spending more than $3 million more than she did.
"Losing is not fun. Losing is unfamiliar to me," Straz said in his concession speech to a room full of supporters at Wright's Deli, a Tampa institution and one of his family's favorite restaurants.
But his concession speech was a departure from the negativity, and a call to get behind the city's new leader.
"This is all about the future of Tampa," Straz said to reporters after addressing the crowd.
"The voters have spoken. They elected Jane Castor. And we need to get behind our mayor and help move the city forward."
Castor nearly won the general election on March 5, but came two percent shy of the 50 percent majority needed to win outright over the other six candidates.
Straz came in second with one-third of the votes, earning him the right to face her in a runoff, but her momentum was too much to overcome.
Castor becomes the first openly-gay mayor of a major city in the Southeast, yet another glass ceiling she's broken in a career full of them.
But she said that part didn't matter to voters.
"It shows a change in the times, but really all along, the majority of people just want someone who can do the job," she said.
"They want a leader who's gonna improve their lives and focus on the issues that matter to them. And that's what I intend to do."
Castor has focused on a platform that would push the city forward, jumping off the successes of current Mayor Bob Buckhorn, under whom she served as chief of police.
She was nominated to the position in 2009 under former mayor Pam Iorio. She gained the endorsement of both and two other former mayors, Bob Martinez and Dick Greco, Sr.
For full results and analysis including a sit-down with Castor, watch Politics On Your Side, Tampa Bay's weekly local political show, on WFLA News Channel 8 this and every Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m., right before Meet the Press.
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