After 8 years in office, Pam Iorio ends her tenure as the Mayor of Tampa at the end of this month, and this morning at the Tampa Convention Center, she told employees, supporters, city council members and a live cable audience that she is extremely proud of the achievements that she's accomplished during that time.
But the mayor, who leaves office with extremely favorable approval ratings, admitted that she's leaving without successfully achieving what many observers say is what she wanted to define her legacy - helping create a mass transit system in the region.
As she and other advocates of the one cent transit tax in Hillsborough County said throughout 2010, only Detroit joins the Tampa Bay area amongst the biggest 25 metros areas in the country without a mass transit system.
"I don't regret for a minute that we pushed for a transit plan," the Mayor said when discussing how the issue failed badly at the polls last November. She said that though she was disappointed County voters did not buy into the plan (though voters in Tampa did), she said transit supporters learned a lot from that loss, saying "our job is to learn what the voters will accept." And she said what the city could absolutely not afford to do was listen to critics and stay with the status quo, saying there was a "huge risk" in doing nothing on the transit front.
The mayor began her presentation with what has to be the envy of mayors across the country - a startling reduction in crime of over 61% since she succeeded Dick Greco in office in 2003. She recalled that she believed that former chief Stephen Hogue, who she hired in '03, was exaggerating when he said he believed he could get the rate down 50%.