TAMPA - As if to lighten the burden of his new job, Bob Buckhorn opened his first City Hall press conference as Mayor-elect with a joke.
“My 9 year old came out the front door this morning looking for the secret service to take her to school,” cracked Buckhorn to a roomful of laughing reporters.
As Tampa’s first family, life will change for the Buckhorns. The job can be all-consuming. And though Buckhorn says the city he is inheriting is in good working order, outgoing Mayor Pam Iorio warned him of a looming challenge ahead.
“There will be another budget deficit this year. We haven't exactly quantified what it’s going to be but it will mean more cutting at city hall,” said Iorio.
Buckhorn will face that challenge with the benefit of experience on the Tampa City Council. He spent what he now admits was too much energy sparring with strip club king Joe Redner, and says his emphasis will be on economic development and job creation.
Bob Buckhorn will also be in the national spotlight in 2012 when the Republican National Committee’s convention comes to Tampa. It won't go unnoticed that the mayor and the entire city council are Democrats, though Buckhorn says that will play no role in how the event is handled.
“We will do a great job for the RNC. And as far as I’m concerned, it's not about partisanship. It's not about the ideology. It's about the economic opportunities,” promised Buckhorn.
For her part, outgoing Mayor Pam Iorio says she's writing a book and will embark on a career as a leadership speaker.
When asked about her decisions to endorse Buckhorn over Rose Ferlita after earlier promising to stay out of the fray, Iorio had no apologies.
“I wanted to remain neutral in the Mayor's race, but when I saw it going in a direction that I thought was going to set a negative tone for this city that I care so much about, I said no. I’m not going to stand by the sidelines because when you stand by the sidelines and don't speak up, you're condoning it.”