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Youth key as Iorio takes office

During her election night celebration March 25, Tampa mayor Pam Iorio made one final campaign promise.

Iorio told the crowd of supporters that one of her first priorities as mayor would be to create a youth corps in order to allow Tampa’s youngest residents a chance to govern their community.

On Tuesday, before she had taken the oath of office during her inauguration ceremony, Iorio took the first step in making good on that promise.

Iorio invited four youths, ranging in grade level from middle school to college, to speak at her inauguration. And they expressed more than just their support for the new mayor. Each stood before the crowd of about 1,000 at the Tampa Convention Center and told Iorio what they thought needed to be improved in the city.

Dywan Washington, a student at Memorial Middle School, told Iorio that she should listen to Tampa’s youth, and improve the parks and libraries, as well as make them feel safe, so that they will turn into strong adults.

“Now its time we had our voices heard,” Washington said. “So, let’s get behind (the youth), Miss Iorio. and get the job done.”

Wharton High School’s Jesse Ruben Pope followed Washington to the podium. Pope addressed the issue of drunken driving with Iorio. He said politicians have largely turned a blind eye to finding a solution to drunken driving fatalities.

“What good is streamlining an election if no one is there to vote?” Pope said.

Teenager Mackenzie Porter said 21 percent of the population of the United States are children age 14 and under. Porter joined USF student Amanda Alonso in encouraging Iorio to create youth programs and make Tampa safer.

“We need to institute programs to bring our youth and our city together,” Alonso said.

Moments after the students had completed their comments, Iorio took her oath of office and stepped to the podium. She reiterated to the young people in the audience her promise of a week ago.

“You are not only the future, you are the present,” Iorio said. “You can affect your city now. You will find public service is the noblest of causes.”

Iorio said she wants children growing up in Tampa to have pride in their city.

Iorio spent much of her address talking about the history of Tampa. She spoke of the accomplishments of previous mayors, including Dick Greco, whose fourth term ended Tuesday.

“The history of the city speaks about its future,” Iorio said. “We will continue to grow and prosper … It is now my job to build on (former mayors’) past accomplishments.”

Iorio listed four themes to her administration: humility, hope, pride and joy. She said she will use a tone of compromise as she enters into what she calls “an era of innovation and fresh ideas.”

“For those who love serving the public, who believe Tampa can serve as an example to the rest of the nation … join with me,” Iorio said.

As her address wound down, Iorio, who could serve as mayor until 2011, borrowed from former President John F. Kennedy, and mused about what she wanted for Tampa.

“Before the decade is out, (I want) a center for the arts … a downtown that is a neighborhood, (and to) lift up the poorest communities,” Iorio said.

Iorio said before the decade is out, she also wanted to make Tampa safe and find a solution to the city’s stormwater drainage problem.

“I offer you this agenda of gain and progress,” Iorio said. “I pledge to you an administration that looks beyond the lines on a (page) and is focused on people. I begin today with an optimistic future, a future full of possibilities.”