Tampa, Florida has elected its first openly gay female mayor, ex-police chief Jane Castor, who won a runoff election in a landslide.
Within thirty minutes of the polls closing, the outcome was clear. Castor defeated wealthy businessman David Straz garnering a huge 73% of the vote.
“It shows a change in the times, but really all along, the majority of people just want someone who can do the job,” Castor said of her historic win. “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.”
“We don’t tear people down with negativity, so thank you all for believing in that message,” added the 59-year-old former police chief.
The reference to negativity was a clear nod to her opponent who reportedly spent $5 million, much of that his own money, in the race.
“That means Straz spent nearly $345 for every vote he received,” The Tampa Bay Times reports. “Castor, who won all but 7 of the city’s 103 precincts, spent about $44 per vote.”
Castor nearly won the general election outright, but fell 2 points short with 48% of the vote. That number was triple Straz’s 15.5% he earned to come in second.
It’s a sign of how progressive the Sunshine State is becoming as Castor joins Dean Trantalis, openly gay mayor of Fort Lauderdale, as an executive leading a major Florida city.
Acknowledging her long-time partner, Ana Cruz, Castor gushed, “She was everything. I’ve never been involved in campaign before, that’s her wheelhouse. She knows how to run a positive campaign.”
In conceding the race, Straz called for the city to rally around the new mayor.
“This is all about the future of Tampa,” Straz told the media. “The voters have spoken. They elected Jane Castor. And we need to get behind our mayor and help move the city forward.”
LGBTQ advocacy groups celebrated the news.
“Jane Castor’s victory is a clear sign that LGBTQ Americans are being welcomed as leaders in every part of society,” said Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal. “Tampa is the second major American city to elect an openly lesbian mayor so far this month, coming just weeks after Lori Lightfoot won in Chicago.”
“For decades we have fought to make sure that LGBTQ Americans like Castor can have a seat at the table,” she added. “Elections like this show us that all of us belong at the table.”
VICTORY: Jane Castor makes history as Tampa’s first openly LGBTQ mayor. 🏳️🌈@HRC was proud to endorse @JaneforTampa and look forward to working closely with her to ensure the city continues to move forward as an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone. https://t.co/7unu3pb5VH pic.twitter.com/FqILD4OYam
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) April 23, 2019
.@eqfl_actionPAC spotlight candidate @JaneforTampa has made history tonight as Tampa's first openly #LGBTQ mayor! We look forward to working with Mayor-elect Castor as she continues the work to keep Tampa a beacon of diversity in the South! #sayfie pic.twitter.com/f0fUKo4oXw
— Equality Florida (@equalityfl) April 23, 2019