Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Buckhorn in L.A.: "I don't want to be the mayor of some white-bread Southern city"

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 2:48 PM

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Tampa has historically always been a racially diverse city, and never moreso than today. Latinos make up approximately 25 percent of the population in greater Hillsborough County, and blacks account for more than 15 percent. 

"I don't want to be the mayor of some white-bread Southern city," Bob Buckhorn told Politico's Alex Burns this morning in Los Angeles as part of a panel discussion hosted by the D.C.-based political website. "When we're out competing for global business, the fact that our city was settled by Spanish, Cuban and Italian immigrants who came to Tampa for the cigar industry, makes us a lot more competitive because we look like the world, with all of its shades and ethnicities, we speak multiple languages as you do here in L.A. That's good."

Mayor Buckhorn spoke a moment after L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said that his city would be accepting some Central American refugee children who have flooded across the border in Texas over the past few months. 

The federal government currently has not announced any plans to repatriate any of those children to Hillsborough County or Tampa. Last week it was reported that less than 20 such children would be coming to Pasco County to stay at a facility run the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services.

L.A.'s Mayor Garcetti says his city will also be accepting some of those children. He said that 62 percent of the population of Los Angeles consists of immigrants or children of immigrants is a "competitive advantage" for the city. "They need to be earning scholarships, paying more taxes, having driver's licenses. We can only gain from that," he said about undocumented immigrants. "The status quo as it is is broken and costs us a lot of money."

The panel discussion (which also included Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and was livestreamed on Politico's website) was held as part of Politico Magazine's What Works series. Earlier in the discussion the Tampa mayor was asked about income inequality and whether he's received any negative feedback from developers regarding that issue.

Buckhorn said that wasn't the case, since he was one Democrat that doesn't engage in "class warfare," before going into his familiar litany that there's no Republican or Democratic way to fix a broken pothole. "As mayors we're far more apolitical and less dogmatic," he emphasized.
Burns later reminded Buckhorn of a conversation the two engaged in "when your city was on lockdown during the Republican Convention" two years ago about mayors being the future of the Democratic Party, and asked if the 2016 nominee for president should look at a mayor as a potential VP running mate. (There has already been much discussion about former San Antonio Mayor and now Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castor being one such candidate.)

Playing to the hometown crowd, Buckhorn said that he thought Mayor Garcetti would be a great choice, eliciting a large cheer from the audience.

"The preparation that mayors go through, in the job that we do, I think makes great governors, because we're actually the CEOs of corporations and you can easily translate that to the state level, and I think eventually prepares folks for an opportunity at the national level as well."

Left unsaid is how the mayor himself has talked about possibly running for governor of Florida at some point in the future, presumably 2018. Although that could be considerably trickier if Charlie Crist wins this year and is running for re-election as the Democratic Party standard-bearer four years from now. But recent polls indicate that the Crist/Scott race is a virtual toss-up with a little less than four months before the general election. If Crist were to lose, Buckhorn would be one of several of those up-and-coming mayors around the state (along with Jacksonville's Alvin Brown, Orlando's Buddy Dyer and possibly St. Pete's Rick Kriseman) to be given serious consideration to compete for the 2018 Democratic nomination.

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