Round two of Occupy Tampa versus Bob Buckhorn will take place at the ballot box, not in the city’s public parks.
On Friday Becky Rubright, a veteran of Occupy Tampa, became the first person to file to run against Buckhorn in the mayoral race next March.
Rubright is one of dozens of occupy protesters arrested during months of conflicts with Buckhorn’s police force, usually while occupying public land.
According to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections website, incumbent Bob Buckhorn is the only other candidate who has filed for the election next march.
WMNF interviewed her Monday morning about why she is running against Bob Buckhorn to be Tampa’s mayor.
“Why am I running, it’s an excellent question. It grew out of political conversations I’ve been having with a good friend of mine who is more activist-oriented than I am. I have a profession that I love; and I love it the most because I get to directly help people everyday with their actual lives.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m an acupuncturist; I’ve had a small business, my own clinic, since 2002 and I love it. But I’d participated with occupy, but I’d also become very disillusioned with the process with protest and asking power for justice because I’ve come to believe that they don’t actually care. Our institutions of government are corrupted and compromised to a point by financial interests that they have lost focus on the idea of serving the people. I mean that on both the national and local scale. I think Bob Buckhorn is indicative of the kinds of money in politic culture that sees the only way of serving people as land development and tax incentives for corporations, as opposed to actually serving the needs of the people in the community. When that becomes true the people just become the economy and that’s not justice. So when you combine that idea with the fact that I learned he’s running unopposed, that’s not democracy. You need to have a choice and certainly one of those choices need to be representing the voices and concerns of the people and not just land developers.”
“Some people may remember you from Occupy Tampa when that was going on it was almost three years ago, really this week, that it started. What was your interaction with the city, with Mayor Buckhorn, with the police force when you were with Occupy Tampa?”
“Well, it was surprising and disturbing honestly. I became involved because I was just excited about the fact that there was a movement potentially that was addressing some of the real concerns and the roots of some of the problems that we have with this country which is money in politics. Occupy tried to cover a lot of ground — that’s a part of the problem — but I also think that income inequality is a huge part of that issue. So, the way that filtered down to Tampa — I was charged of the larger idea, so when it started happening here it was a passionate emotional response to that. Then it was quite disturbing to see that all these ideas that we hold about our democracy in terms of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, are simply just ideas – they’re actually not allowed to be in practice anymore. Some of the interactions we had with the cops were genuinely terrible and genuinely antagonistic. Bob [Buckhorn] wasn’t as big a front and center with that but he certainly had the power to call them on or off. I mean lots of different mayors in parts of the country allowed these things to happen because they saw that they were a part of the people taking part in the political process, here in Tampa it did not go like that.”
“What’s an example of a disturbing incident that may have happened between the police and Occupy Tampa?”
“Personally one of the most disturbing things that I have witnessed was when we had compromised because we weren’t trying to take over public space. We were on the edge of the sidewalk outside of Curtis Hixon [Waterfront Park] because technically that is public space. It wasn’t inside the park which is controlled by the city and has its own rules the side walk is suppose to be for anybody. But then the park would be closed at certain hours, I forget if it was dark or 10 p.m., but as soon as that would happen the police would come and actively pull our stuff into the space we weren’t allowed to be in and taunt us about coming and getting it. That’s just unprofessional it’s not serving and protecting the people, bottom line.”
“People might say ‘well, it’s a long shot. Bob Buckhorn has a lot of money behind him and a lot of political capital and you’re just an acupuncturist.’”
“I’m just a private citizen with a concerned mind and a voice.”
“Why would you take this on?”
“Because I’m crazy, I guess. No, because I think it’s important. I think that I’m uniquely suited in the since that I work for myself so that I have the freedom to this without repercussions from my corporate overlords. And I get to make my own schedule and time. I believe I have over the course of twelve years of doing business and living and being an active part of the community here, I have a certain level of respect and integrity. If you know me then you know I’m not trying to harm anybody. I genuinely try to see the best interest of all us promoted. Yeah, it’s a long shot, I’m going into this thinking that I can’t do it, it’s certainly possible and I also understand its David and Goliath, that’s for sure.”
“And if people want to find out more, do you have any events or a website or anything like that?”
“Well we are here today because of my newishness to the whole process kind of outed me sooner than I probably would have if I had professional people managing the way I go about this. We don’t have anything up just yet we really are literally less than a week into taking this idea seriously. We have an upcoming meeting that I’m not going to broadcast just because it’s already big enough which is nice to have the community support, but we’re still in the organizing process, for sure.”
Just before Monday’s newscast, WMNF interviewed Mayor Buckhorn; we’ll air that interview Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.
Here are some previous WMNF News stories about Becky Rubright: