Tampa Mayor-Elect Jane Castor, equality organizations celebrate historic win

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa’s former chief of police Jane Castor made history April 23 when she was elected the city’s first openly LGBTQ mayor.

Mayor-Elect Castor faced retired banker and philanthropist David Straz in the city’s runoff election. According to unofficial returns from the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, 23.19% of Tampa’s 230,193 registered voters cast 53,385 ballots April 23. Of the 53,144 votes cast for mayor, Castor received 38,854, or 73.11% of the vote. Straz received 14,290, or 26.89%.

As Watermark has reported, Castor is familiar with firsts. Ahead of her 31 years of service with the Tampa Police Department, which began as a beat cop in 1983, she was elected the first female president of a Tampa Police Academy class. She subsequently became the city’s first LGBTQ liaison, strengthening the relationship between the LGBTQ community and the police department. Castor fostered that connection until 2009, when she became the first openly LGBTQ officer and woman to serve as Tampa’s chief of police.

Castor addressed a roaring crowd of supporters from The Vault in Tampa following the results. “Thank you all so much for coming out this evening,” Castor began. “How exciting is this? The next mayor of Tampa!”

She quickly praised her two sons, advising they will remain her “constant joy,” and “the invincible Ana Cruz,” her longtime partner. “I would not be standing here today if it was not for her,” Castor shared. “Thank you for your direction … everything that you have done has brought me to this point here. Mostly I thank you for your friendship and I thank you for your love.”

The incoming mayor subsequently thanked her extended family, campaign team and supporters—including the many equality-focused organizations which actively supported her throughout the race. Among the organizations were the Hillsborough County LGBTA Democratic Caucus, Equality Florida Action PAC, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and LGBTQ Victory Fund.

You can watch Castor’s full acceptance speech below:

Join us for Mayor-Elect Jane Castor’s acceptance speech.

Posted by Jane Castor for Mayor on Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Equality Florida Action PAC celebrated Castor’s win following the news. “Jane Castor’s victory is a historic milestone for our LGBTQ community,” Equality Florida Senior Political Director Joe Saunders said. “Equality Florida Action PAC members, supporters and donors showed up in force in this election. We’ve spent months talking to over 30,000 pro-equality voters in the City of Tampa about how important this race is.”

“The phone calls, emails, digital ads and door knocks mobilized our community to support our champion, and that support has made a defining difference,” he continued. “Tampa has a long history of leading the South in policies of inclusion and  we look forward to working with Mayor-Elect Castor as she continues the work to keep Tampa a beacon of diversity in the South.”

“A lavender ceiling was shattered in Florida Tuesday night—with voters overwhelmingly electing Jane Castor the first openly lesbian big city mayor in the Southeastern United States,” LGBTQ Victory Fund President and former Houston Mayor Annise Parker also released.

“Both LGBTQ people and women face tremendous obstacles in running for public office, but Jane’s victory shows lesbian candidates can win citywide office with a strong record of public service and policy priorities that align with their constituents,” she continued. “While voters chose Jane because of her vision for Tampa, her willingness to be open and honest about her life lent her an authenticity that voters are drawn to not just in Tampa, but across the nation. That is why an unprecedented number of lesbian candidates are plowing through crowded primaries and winning big city mayoral races this cycle—putting us on-track to make 2019 the Year of the Lesbian Mayor.”


“Today, Tampa voters made history by electing Jane Castor as the city’s first openly LGBTQ mayor,” HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof released. “HRC was proud to endorse Castor and help turn out the vote in her historic election. We congratulate Jane Castor on her victory and look forward to working closely with her to ensure the city continues to move forward as an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.”

“As I said when I was appointed as the chief of police, I didn’t want to be remembered as the first female or the first LGBTQ chief,” Castor shared with Watermark ahead of her victory. “The same thing holds true as the mayor. I don’t necessarily want to be remembered as the first; I want to be remembered as a good mayor for all citizens. With that being said, the significance of being the first openly LGBTQ mayor is not lost on me.”

Mayor-Elect Castor and Tampa’s newly-elected City Council members will be sworn into office May 1 at Armature Works in Tampa. For more information, click here.

Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent.



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