An interview with Tampa mayoral candidate Jane Castor

She says her experience as a police officer makes her the best pick for the job.

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click to enlarge An interview with Tampa mayoral candidate Jane Castor
Anna Bryson

Jane Castor served six years as Tampa’s first female police chief before retiring in 2015. That experience, she says, makes her the best mayoral candidate.

“I've worked every corner of the city in the last 31 years patrolling every neighborhood,” Castor said. “I have an understanding that the rest of the candidates don't about the different departments and where we can realize efficiencies within departments in in our city.”

During her time in the police department, crime decreased by 70 percent. But one of her department’s practices undeniably put a smear on her campaign. While Castor was serving as chief in 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union called for a stop to a Tampa Police Department policy that led to a disproportionate amount of African Americans getting cited for minor bicycle-related infractions. The policy became known as “biking while black.”

In the past, Castor has said that the tickets were not a mistake. She’s since changed her tone.

“The tickets were a mistake because they caused tension in the very neighborhoods that we were trying to protect,” she said at a mayoral debate in January. “I took full responsibility for that and I continue to take responsibility for that.”

While she recognizes that it was a mistake, she’s proud of her accomplishments.

“We've been able to make Tampa one of the safest cities in the nation based on our side-by-side working relationship with all citizens,” she said in a recent interview with Creative Loafing. “We have implemented hundreds of initiatives in an effort to reduce crime in our city, most of which have been very, very successful.”

If elected, Jane Castor will be Tampa’s first openly gay female mayor. And looking at the polls, that’s more than likely. Three leading LGBTQ organizations — LPAC, Equality Florida Action PAC and the LGBTQ Victory Fund — endorsed Castor for mayor.

“I have championed LGBTQ rights, women's rights and social justice my entire life,” Castor said. “That really is in the fiber of my being.”

With transportation as a main issue in this race, Castor said her top priority in that regard will be safety. Tampa is one of the top cities in the U.S. for pedestrian and bicycle deaths.

“The more that we encourage cycling and alternative modes of transportation, the better we're going to have to have that relationship between the driving public and those using alternate forms of transportation,” she said.

As a Tampa native, Castor loves her city. She lives in Seminole Heights and frequents Spaddy’s Coffee Co.

“I love tampa because it’s the greatest city in the nation,” she said. “It's a big city with a small town feel.”

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