TAMPA, Fla. — Jane Castor, former Tampa police chief, won that city’s mayoral race by a landslide becoming the first out person elected mayor of a top 100 city in the Southeast.
The Tampa Bay Times showed Castor winning 72.5 percent of the vote against her opponent, philanthropist David Straz, who won 27.5 percent of the vote. Castor now also has the distinction of being the first openly LGBTQ person to lead one of Florida’s three largest cities.
According to the Victory Institute’s Out for America database, which tracks LGBTQ representation among elected officials, just 0.13 percent of elected officials nationwide identify as LGBTQ. That is compared to about 4.5 percent of U.S. adults in 2017, according to a Gallup poll.
Castor had already made history in Tampa before winning the mayor’s race. She was the first woman and first lesbian to serve as Tampa’s police chief; she worked in the department for 31 years, beginning as a beat cop, according to her campaign website
She is the third out lesbian to win a big city mayoral race this year. Both Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, Ill. and Satya Rhodes-Conway of Madison, Wisc. also won mayoral elections earlier this month.
The Victory Fund stated that this was the most expensive mayor race in Tampa’s history.
“Jane Castor’s victory is a historic milestone for our LGBTQ community,” said Equality Florida Senior Political Director Joe Saunders. “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. 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.”
“I am so grateful to Equality Florida Action PAC and our pro-equality supporters, volunteers and advocates who showed up for this campaign. Equality Florida has a long history of helping to elect candidates who stand for the values of equality and fairness. Together we’ve demonstrated that in Tampa we value and celebrate our diversity. The voters made it very clear … that the work you do and the ideas you bring are what really matter,” Castor said.
Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker — now president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund and the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a top five American city — released the following statement about Castor’s victory:
“A lavender ceiling was shattered in Florida … with voters overwhelmingly electing Jane Castor the first openly lesbian big city mayor in the Southeastern United States. 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. 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.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez released the below statement following Castor’s election:
“Congratulations to Tampa Mayor-elect Jane Castor on her historic victory … . Castor inspired voters by showing her dedication to Democratic values and the issues that matter most to working families. In addition to becoming the first LGBTQ mayor of Tampa, she’s set to become the first openly LGBTQ person elected mayor of a major city in the Southeastern United States.
“Our diversity is our greatest strength, and our elected leaders should reflect the communities they represent. This year alone, Democrats have elected three new lesbian mayors in major cities, mobilizing a new generation of leaders. I look forward to working with Mayor-elect Castor to make Tampa a more inclusive, equitable, and welcoming place for all.”
Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal, made the following comment after the win:
“Jane Castor’s victory is a clear sign that LGBTQ Americans are being welcomed as leaders in every part of society. 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. Elections like this show us that all of us belong at the table.”