Episode 053

St Pete X features business and civic leaders in St. Petersburg Florida who share their insight, expertise and love of our special city. An initiative of the St. Petersburg Group, St Pete X strives to connect and elevate the city by sharing the voices of its citizens, and to bring awareness to the opportunities offered by the great St. Petersburg renaissance.

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09/20/2019 | Episode 053 | 19:37

Bob Buckhorn, 58th Mayor of Tampa

Throwback: A conversation with Bob Buckhorn as he bid farewell to running the city he loves

On this episode of SPx, we throw back to February with Tampa's 58th mayor, Bob Buckhorn. Our host, Joe Hamilton, sat down with Buckhorn as he contemplated the end of his mayorship, the power of the office and life after. In this rare and insightful conversation with a leader at the pinnacle of his career, Buckhorn waxes on journalism, authenticity and the new political climate in the age of Trump.

Key Insights

  • On this throwback episode of SPx, host Joe Hamilton welcomed former Tampa mayor, Bob Buckhorn.
  • Originally recorded in February, Buckhorn reflected on wide-ranging topics from authenticity to the power of the office and much more.
  • Misunderstandings of the office: "I don't think people realize how powerful the mayor of Tampa is. I mean, it is a very, very strong mayor form of government by charter ... There's no city manager. So you are the CEO of a billion-dollar enterprise with 4,500 employees - police, fire, solid waste, parks and recreation, revenue and finance. I mean, go down the list, you’re running a large company here."
  • Misunderstandings of the man: "I think early in my career, they misunderstood ambition for focus. I was no shrinking violet, I knew where I wanted to go and I was not inclined to be dissuaded from that."
  • On authenticity: "If your passion and enthusiasm and love of your city becomes contagious, even when people disagree with you, they’ll cut you some slack because they know that you're doing what you're doing in what you think is in the best interest of your community."
  • On Trump: "There have been policy things that he's done that I’ve agreed with, but the way he has demeaned the office and harshened the rhetoric, to me, is unbecoming of the President of the United States."
  • "Fake news" and the media: "I’m the son of a journalist. I grew up with in on my fingers. My dad was a working journalist in Washington, DC. I think the fourth estate is necessary. I think it does the country of service. I think it keeps in check the worst impulses of America. I think it is needed, it is valued, and it has to remain strong."
  • Mayorship: "Being a mayor and any choice for mayor is a very personal, intimate choice. They want to see you, and touch you, and feel you and go eyeball to eyeball with you and take the measure of you."
  • On power: "I look at it as a force for good, recognizing that this job belongs to the people who hired me to do it and all the trappings that come with it are not mine. But that if you use it correctly, certainly as a mayor, you can transform a city and you can change the city's direction."
  • "Power is always hard to give up, but I tell you what will make it easier for me is having lost before. Because you realize then that number one, who your real friends are. Two, that you can get up on a Wednesday after a bad Tuesday and life goes on. And three, that it wasn't really yours to begin with."

"The Mayor of Tampa, when he or she speaks, carries weight and that's important because as mayor you can set the tone and the tenor for the region, and you can drive the region in a direction."

"I think what I have discovered is that your city takes on the personality of the Mayor."

Table of Contents

(0:00 – 2:47) Introduction: Being Misunderstood

(2:47 – 5:11) Maintaining Authenticity

(5:11 – 6:28) Net Affecting Authenticity

(6:28 – 7:48) Fake News

(7:48 – 11:12) The Media 

(11:12 – 12:27) Misinformation in the Media

(12:27 – 13:53) Focusing on One Issue

(13:53 – 15:28) Completing the Journey

(15:28 – 17:32) Relationship with Power

(17:34 – 18:17) Shoutouts

(18:17 – 18:57) Conclusion


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About the host

Joe Hamilton is publisher of the St. Pete Catalyst, co-founder of The St. Petersburg Group, a partner at SeedFunders, fund director at the Catalyst Fund and host of St. Pete X.

About the St.Petersburg Group

The St. Petersburg Group brings together some of the finest thinkers in the area. Our team is civic minded, with strong business acumen. We seek to solve big problems for big benefit to the city, its businesses and its citizens.