Jan 24, 2023 - News

Tampa City Council clashes with Mayor Jane Castor over charter

Protesters holding signs reading "let the people vote" and "Castor vetoes democracy"

Tampa Bay Community Action Committee activists protesting outside City Hall after Castor's vetoes were announced Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Dave Decker/Creative Loafing

Tampa's next police chief is at the center of a power struggle between Mayor Jane Castor and City Council.

Why it matters: Several council members weren't happy with how Castor appointed Mary O'Connor as police chief last year. Now that O'Connor is out, they want to make sure the council has more of a say in choosing Tampa's next top cop and other city leaders.

State of play: Council members voted Thursday to override four of the mayor's five recent vetoes of their charter amendment proposals.

  • Those amendments, which will be put up to voters in March, would require department heads to be approved by council members and limit how long they could serve as interim employees.
  • They'd also limit council members to serving four consecutive terms and shorten the time between charter reviews.

What they're saying: Castor doubled down on the reasoning for her vetoes after first announcing the moves in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed Wednesday.

  • "Every decision I make as mayor is based on what's best for Tampa residents today and their children tomorrow, rather than what's easy or politically expedient, and I believe voters deserved a more thoughtful process," she said in a statement released after Thursday's City Council meeting.
  • "I was under no illusion that I would convince every council member to change his or her mind," she added.

The other side: Council member Lynn Hurtak, who wasn't serving on the council when O'Connor was appointed, tells Axios she felt the public at the time had no input in the process of choosing Tampa's next police chief.

  • "​​From a council member's perspective now, taking out that loophole … enables the public to be more a part of the process. That's the hope."

What's ahead: The charter amendment proposals will be on the ballot for city elections, along with candidates for mayor and city council, on March 7.


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