Being the mayor of a big city is a tough job. Bob Buckhorn, a Penn State alumni and former lax bro, is the current mayor of Tampa, Florida. We sat down with him to talk about his current job and his time at Penn State.
Onward State: How did you end up in Tampa?
Bob Buckhorn: After I graduated college I enrolled in Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida to be a pilot on an aircraft carrier. After I got there I was discharged due to a problem with my cornea and was given $300 for being discharged. The only other person I knew in Florida at the time was one of my fraternity brothers who lived in Tampa. I slept on his couch for about six months until he moved and I just stayed in Tampa. I eventually found out that I was wrongly discharged, but it was too late.
OS: You have a pretty active Twitter account. How do you utilize it for your job as mayor?
BB: I tweet out almost everything on my account and I usually use it to talk about improvements around Tampa. I’ll also tout exciting things happening in the city to market it to outsiders.
OS: How closely have you followed Penn State Lacrosse since you graduated?
BB: I was a walk-on and wasn’t really a great lacrosse player. I followed the team very closely since my former coach Glenn Thiel was still coaching up until three years ago. I have continued to follow with Coach Tambroni knowing that he was successful in the past, bringing that success with him to Penn State so far.
OS: The lacrosse teams here at Penn State will be joining the new Big Ten lacrosse league next year. How do you feel about this move?
BB: I think it will be good for them to play some bigger schools and have some tougher competition. Playing different schools will be good for them and I believe they are set up for success for the foreseeable future.
OS: You were up here last week for the UCF game, how often do you get back to State College?
BB: Not as often as I would like. I get up around once every five or six years which isn’t as much as I would like. Getting to State College from Florida isn’t too easy as you may know, but I will always remember State College for the memories that I made there.
OS: Do you have a relationship with State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreman?
BB: No, I have not. Big city mayors don’t really meet with small city mayors because our issues are not the same. Big city mayors typically meet with other big city mayors and vice-versa. Tampa is the country’s 55th largest city, which doesn’t make it New York, but it still has different challenges from a smaller town like State College.
OS: Is it true that your mom carted you into Joe Paterno’s office when you first arrived at Penn State?
BB: That is true. My mom grew up on the same block as the Paterno’s in Brooklyn and my family has known the Paterno’s for 85 years. Our families remained close over that period of time and my uncles kept in contact with Joe up until the time of his death.
OS: You have two young daughters. Any chance that they will be Nittany Lions too?
BB: I’m trying my best to push them to Penn State, but it’s not easy since my wife is a Georgetown Hoya. I wake them up every morning for school with the Nittany Lion roar. My 10-year old loved State College during our visit, since she hasn’t been there since she was an infant.
OS: What’s your fondest memory of Penn State?
BB: All of the relationships that I made while I was there. I made lifetime friends at Penn State and still keep in close contact with five or six of my fraternity brothers. If I ever need anything I could call one of them up and they would do it. That, above anything else, will stay with me.
OS: If you were a dinosaur which would you be and why?
BB: A Tyrannosaurus Rex because it’s in control of everything. I like to be in control of things in my life.