TAMPA, Fla. — Call it his farewell tour.
"The next time you see me, I'm going to be your Uber driver," Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn laughed during a recent groundbreaking in South Tampa.
- Bob Buckhorn completing his eight years in office
- He said downtown growth was among first initiatives
- Some critics say other parts of city haven't grown
- RELATED: Jane Castor eyes first days in mayor's office
In his final weeks as mayor, Buckhorn followed his usual routine — hobnobbing while leading the city and leaving a parade of witty phrases as he heads out of office.
"Next year, I fully intend to be part of the problem, not part of the solution," Buckhorn joked during the 2019 Gasparilla Children's Parade.
Inside his office, there are plenty of boxes as Buckhorn stacks up eight years of city leadership.
"I had a great run," Buckhorn said. "I got the only job that I ever wanted."
He was sworn into office in April 2011.
When Buckhorn took the city's top job, he had his eyes set on downtown. He said he wanted to bring cash flow to a city that had been hurting economically.
"We would not be building a $3 million dollar development if it weren't for Bob Buckhorn," said Tampa Bay Lightning owner and developer Jeff Vinik.
But while downtown transformed, some have argued that other neighborhoods faced economic neglect.
"Nothing huge or life changing has happened within the East Tampa community," said State Rep. Dianne Hart (D-61).
"I don't see the progress," said VM Neighborhood Association President Kelly Grimsdale. "I don't see the economic progress."
Along his farewell tour, Mayor Buckhorn stood by his decision.
"There's always going to be people who are going to whine," Buckhorn said. "But the reality is had we not paid attention to downtown and had we not focused on downtown, we would have never climbed out of that recession."
But as Buckhorn seals the deal on the mayor's job, downtown is not what he celebrates most. Buckhorn said he celebrates the optimism that Tampa's best days are yet to come.