By Kate Sullivan, CNN
Former Police Chief Jane Castor became the first LGBTQ person elected mayor of Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday, easily winning a runoff.
Castor said her victory “sends a resounding message to our community — no, it sends a resounding message to the nation — that Tampa celebrates its diversity and lifts everyone up in a positive way.”
“We don’t tear people down with negativity,” Castor said to a crowd of supporters, “so thank you all for believing in that message.”
Castor won more than 70% of the vote, according to the unofficial results posted on the supervisor of elections’ website.
Her opponent, businessman David Straz, conceded the nonpartisan race.
The Florida Democratic Party posted on Twitter: “[email protected]’s historic victory is a clear win for Tampa and cements her status as a rising star in the Democratic Party. Her big victory is just the latest sign that Tampa has become a vibrant, welcoming city where everyone has a shot to succeed — no matter who you love.”
Castor served 31 years at the Tampa Police Department, first as a beat cop and then six years as police chief, according to her campaign website.
The former police chief was backed by the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Florida Action PAC.
The Human Rights Campaign tweeted after Castor’s win, “@HRC was proud to endorse @JaneforTampa and look forward to working closely with her to ensure the city continues to move forward as an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.”
Equality Florida Action posted on Twitter, “[email protected]_actionPAC spotlight candidate @JaneforTampa has made history tonight as Tampa’s first openly #LGBTQ mayor! We look forward to working with Mayor-elect Castor as she continues the work to keep Tampa a beacon of diversity in the South! #sayfie”
The senior political director of Equality Florida, Joe Saunders, had said in a news release backing Castor, “Representation matters, especially for LGBTQ families. When Jane wins, she will be Tampa’s first LGBTQ mayor, the first LGBTQ woman to lead one of Florida’s largest cities and the only LGBTQ woman leading a major U.S. city in the southeast United States.”
Castor, in her victory remarks, said, “I have never been more hopeful or more excited about our city’s future.”