To the citizens of Tampa - I accept the challenge of leading this great city.
To Dr. Mormino, thank you for your kind introduction. The history of a city speaks about its future. Tampa has been a culturally diverse, forward looking city set in an environment of natural beauty. Three years after Florida became a United States possession, a remote military outpost, to be called Fort Brooke, was cleared from a dense jungle. This military outpost marked the beginning of what would later become the county seat- a frontier village named Tampa.
179 years later, we live in a dynamic city. We are the downtown of a major I-4 corridor of creative effort and economic potential. Our international airport is one of the best in the world. Our port is the nation's 12th largest. Our universities and colleges of higher learning are indeed institutions of excellence. Our hospitals represent the best of patient care and state of the art research. Our cultural institutions offer the promise of much more to come. Our neighborhoods are rich in their own distinctive character and identity. Our natural environment is simply beautiful. We will continue to grow and prosper.
This city developed as it has because of visionary leaders and people throughout the community who have historically given much without the expectation of personal gain. The community has been their love and we have flourished because of it.
Today, we are honored to have former Mayor Bill Poe, Former Governor and Mayor Bob Martinez and Mayor Dick Greco present. Former Mayor Sandy Freedman could not be here today. Each of these former mayors has contributed significantly to the Tampa we live in today. It is my job now to build on their past accomplishments - to continue to move our city forward. Please join with me in acknowledging these great civic leaders.
Mayor Greco- for the past eight years you have led this city with that wonderful personal style that reflects your sincere desire to improve the lives of people from every walk of life. Your accomplishments are many. You have been so fortunate to have Linda as your partner. Linda, you have immersed yourself in making this city a better place, working alongside your husband - helping charities and the city in innumerable ways. Thank you Dick and Linda for what you have given to Tampa.
To the members of City Council - I congratulate you on your elections - and look forward to working with you in a partnership forged by mutual goals and respect. There may be times of disagreement - but never a time when we cannot come together to honestly express our views and devise solutions that represent the best for the public we serve.
To the families in our community who have loved ones fighting in the war that rages in the Middle East. We will keep you in our daily prayers and ask for their safe return. Let us as a community reach out to support those families who sacrifice so very much.
I take the reins of the city today with great humility, with great hope, with great pride and with great joy.
With humility we can begin the process of governing well. In the midst of war and an uncertain economy we must strive to improve our city and solve its problems. Problems are solved when people imbued by the spirit of cooperation work together as a team. It is humility that allows us to listen to the best, the brightest and the willing. And it is humility that will allow us to create the tone of our administration - a tone that will never compromise honesty, ethical standards and inclusiveness.
At the same time we must foster hope. We will do this by being fiscally responsible, innovative and courageous. We will tap the enthusiasm and idealism of our young to create a youth corps to help make our city a better place. To Amanda, Dywan, Jesse, and Mackenzie, thank you for your messages to me. I will work hard to fulfill your hopes for this city. And I have a message for you. You are not only the future- you are the present. To every young person in Tampa I say - you can affect your community now. Join with me. We will form a Youth Corps that will work to make life better for others. Work alongside me, and the city council members and city staff as we branch out across this city to make it a better place. You will find that public service is the noblest of callings.
I have seen areas of our city where people have little hope. They are burdened by poverty, by crime, by debilitating living conditions. There are few job opportunities. I want children growing up in every one of Tampa's neighborhoods to see life full of possibilities - not limited by economic circumstances. We must tackle our urban problems with meaningful change- we must have an administration that radiates hope.
And with the kindling of hope comes pride.
Pride facilitates improvement, gives us direction, and shapes our future. Pride motivates us to build sidewalks and parks - and spurs the innovation needed to improve the broad avenues that lead to our city. It prompts us to seek that balance between our creations of steel and concrete and the natural beauty of green spaces and water. It is pride that makes it possible for us to attract the kind of enterprises we need to improve our city.
And pride will ignite joy.
Joy, as we know, comes not by seeking it, but as a product of facing challenges and overcoming them. We will face many challenges. We will solve many problems and in that there is joy - the joy of accomplishment of working together - the joy of seeing decaying areas of the city transformed into vibrant productive communities, the joy of seeing people feel secure in their neighborhoods, and the joy of seeing our visions realized.
Many wonder what changes this administration will bring. I will tell you in a straightforward way - we are entering into an era of innovation and fresh ideas. A time when a commitment to public service is celebrated and every city employee is part of exciting changes that will permeate every department. If there are more effective ways to render services, we will implement them. For those who love serving the public - who believe that Tampa should serve as an example to the rest of the nation as a city of quality and excellence, then join with me.
While we live in uncertain times, we must be certain about what we want to accomplish.
Before this decade is out, I want to see Tampa recognized as a city that is a center for the arts. It goes beyond what will be a first class cultural arts district. We must weave the arts into our neighborhoods - we must celebrate the works of artists and writers - we must provide an atmosphere that encourages creative efforts.
Before this decade is out, we will make our downtown a neighborhood. A neighborhood where people live and work. A vibrant community that celebrates one of our greatest assets - our waterfront.
Before this decade is out, we must lift up our poorest communities. Let us harness the energies and intelligence and the compassion of everyone in this room today, and those throughout this community, to bring business to areas where there are no jobs - to bring better housing for our families, to bring safety to areas under siege by criminals.
And before this decade is out, let us make the basic services to the public the best they can be. Let's tackle the storm water problem - let's build sidewalks and parks and let's join with our partners in the county to find solutions to long standing transportation needs.
I offer you this agenda of change and progress. As we embark on this great adventure, I reach out to those leaders in the county, and our friends in Plant City and Temple Terrace - to the leaders throughout this region - mayors and members of councils, and commissioners. Let us work together.
David Brown, an astronaut onboard the space shuttle Columbia e-mailed his parents from space the night before his crew began their fatal descent into earth's atmosphere. He wrote:
"The views from the earth are really beautiful... the earth is so big and without boundaries. It makes me want to enjoy every bit of the earth for how great it really is."
What a beautiful perspective from space. An earth without boundaries. Many times in politics, there is more focus on boundaries - on turf - than on solving problems. I pledge to you an administration that looks beyond lines on a map and focuses on people.
When I leave this stage today and enter City Hall there will be many issues to face. Our economy is not strong. Our state government faces budget problems which will impact local governments. There are parts of this community in real need of improvement.
In spite of all our challenges I begin today with an optimistic spirit. I see a future that is bright - and filled with hope. Maybe I feel this way because as Americans we have always been able to meet any challenge, face any hardship, and surmount any obstacle.
I am humble, hopeful, proud and joyful today, to stand before you as the leader of one of the greatest cities in America - and like you, I see a future full of possibilities.
Thank you and may God Bless each of you.