Mayor Bob Buckhorn Biography
Bob Buckhorn is the mayor of Tampa, Florida – a city that has recently been recognized as the best city in the southeast (Money Magazine), one of the hottest cities for startups (Fortune), and one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country (U.S. Census). From its vibrant and rapidly expanding urban core, to the unending charm of its diverse neighborhoods, Tampa’s time has come.
After a long history of service to the City of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn was elected as the 58th mayor of Tampa, where he leads over 4,300 dedicated, hard-working, and forward-thinking civil servants.
A proud alumnus of Penn State University, Buckhorn was first introduced to the Office of the Mayor in 1987, when he served then Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman as Special Assistant. In 1991, he was selected to Chair the MacDill Reuse Advisory Committee and led the effort to save MacDill Air Force Base from closure. In 1995 Buckhorn began his first of two terms on the Tampa City Council, where he gained citywide recognition for his leadership, initiative, and progressive policies. In 2003, after having completed his second term, he left public office and joined the Dewey Square Group, a public affairs company with a national reputation. In 2007, he opened Buckhorn Partners, his own public affairs firm based in Tampa.
In 2011, Bob Buckhorn was elected mayor of Tampa, the nation’s 53rd largest city and the 3rd largest in Florida. On April 1, 2011 he was officially sworn into office. Since that time, Mayor Buckhorn has led the city out of largest recession since the great depression. He has annually balanced the budget, and has made strategic investments without raising property taxes and under his leadership the City of Tampa has seen twelve credit rating increases.
One of his first acts as mayor was to create a diverse panel of local business people and community activists to help reshape how City Hall does business. He improved online accessibility to city services and struck a valuable public/private partnership to provide free Wi-Fi service throughout downtown.
Mayor Buckhorn set a tone of inclusiveness in Tampa as the City acted as a pioneer for equality by establishing one of Florida’s first Domestic Partnership Registries.
After four successful years, Buckhorn was elected to a second term as mayor, receiving 95% of all votes cast. It was clear that Mayor Buckhorn had a strong vision for Tampa, and the voters chose to continue that progress.
Buckhorn has made it a priority to focus on public safety, strong neighborhoods and economic growth while working diligently to improve the overall quality of life in our community. During his time in office the crime rate in Tampa has dropped over 23%. Through his leadership, Buckhorn is revolutionizing the way the city does business. His One Stop Permitting Shop has streamlined the permitting and regulatory process, permitting $2.1 billion in FY2016, and making opening up international markets to Tampa’s small businesses a top priority.
A 40-acre development project in the Channel District is under way. It will include a new hotel, 650,000 square-foot office tower, retail, restaurants and entertainment venues. The new district will be WELL Certified, the world’s first health and wellness-focused city district that will include the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine that is relocating to downtown Tampa. This will create an environment where students and medical professionals will have immediate access to Tampa General Hospital and the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation.
Through his vision, the Hillsborough River will soon become this city’s center point. With community involvement, the West River Redevelopment Plan, a part of the InVision Plan, was created to transform the area west of the river. Substandard public housing will be replaced with more suitable places to live at all levels of affordability. Improvements will be made to streets and there will be increased access to the river, including a redesign of the nearly-25 acre Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.
Mayor Buckhorn has also made it a primary focus to create a safer atmosphere for Tampa’s youth. Through his Stay and Play initiative, operation hours at various community centers throughout Tampa have been extended and free recreation cards are now provided to area youth. Since the program launched in the summer there has been over 100,000 visits from kids who have chosen to be a part of these safe and fun environments.
During his time in office, he introduced Water Works Park, a $7.4 million dollar downtown park that offers picnic areas, boat slips, a kayak launch, dog park, and giant water bucket and splash pad.
Buckhorn also ensured that Perry Harvey Sr. Park underwent a full renovation showcasing the history of the African American community in Tampa with statues, a history walk, music, a modernized skate park, also known as the world famous “Bro Bowl”, and a splash pad.
Mayor Buckhorn has laid the foundation for Tampa to compete with other top tier cities by fostering a culture of inclusiveness, responsiveness, and determination. From strengthening our neighborhoods through programs like Neighborhood University, to the completion of the Tampa Riverwalk, Mayor Buckhorn is empowering Tampa residents in all corners of our city.
Mayor Buckhorn has received the AIA Tampa Bay “Award of Excellence” in 2012, Associated Builders & Contractors 1st Annual “Friend of Free Enterprise” award, Moffitt Cancer Center “Moffitt Momentum” award, University of South Florida “National Academy of Inventors” honorary member for supporting the advancement of technology, development and innovation, WIT Tampa Bay “2014 Person of the Year” award, Florida Bicycle Association & Bike Florida “2014 Leadership Award,” CREW Tampa Bay and IP Capital Partners LLC “2014 CREW Excellence Award,” 2014 Creative Loafing “Local Hero” and “Best Politician” award, Prevent Blindness Florida “Person of Vision” award, American Planning Association Florida “Outstanding Local Public Official 2016,” and 2016 Creative Loafing “Best Local Politician.”
Mayor Buckhorn serves on the boards of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority, University of Tampa Board of Trustees, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Tampa Bay Partnership, Tampa Port Authority, and Hillsborough County Tourist Development Council. From 2011-12, he was a fellow for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use.
Mayor Buckhorn is married to Dr. Cathy Lynch Buckhorn, and he is the father of two outstanding young women, Grace and Colleen. It is his personal goal to create a city in Tampa that is dynamic enough that, after exploring the country, his own kids will choose to return to live, work, and raise their families.
Through the leadership of Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa is providing a blueprint for success for cities across the country to emulate. Tampa’s story is truly that of an emerging modern city.