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Sandra Warshaw Freedman - 55th Mayor Of Tampa

Image of a previous mayor

Born: September 21, 1943

Term: July 16, 1986 - April 1, 1987 (completed Bob Martinez's remaining term)

Term: April 1, 1987 - April 1, 1995

 Sandra Warshaw was born in Newark, New Jersey, but her family moved to Tampa, Florida when she was two years old. She married Michael J.Freedman, an attorney, and the couple has three children. Ms. Freedman graduated with a degree in government from the University of Miami in Florida. Freedman is a former city, state, and Florida Intercollegiate tennis champion, and was once ranked fifth in the nation as a junior amateur.

Ms. Freedman served on City Council from 1974 and then as Council Chair from 1983 through July 16, 1986.  She completed the remaining term of Bob Martinez who resigned to successfully campaign for Governor of Florida. When Ms. Freedman took the oath of office on July 16, 1986, she became Tampa's first woman mayor.  After completing the remainder of Martinez's term, Freedman was twice elected Mayor of Tampa.

Immediately after taking office, Mayor Freedman started two specialized task forces to halt the escalating crime rate caused by drugs: one dealt with illegal aliens who had organized drug operations in Tampa neighborhoods; the second targeted repeat offenders. During her administration, "crack houses" were knocked down.  Within four years she had increased the size of the Police Department by more than 20 percent. This increase in police officers substantially reduced the response time to reported crimes and provided more officers to patrol the neighborhoods. The increased police force also enabled the Police Department to form the nationally acclaimed Q.U.A.D. Squad (Quick Uniformed Attack on Drugs). This program allowed Tampa residents to alert police of suspected drug sales through the use of beepers. Following the institution of these programs, the crime rate dropped in Tampa for three consecutive years.  She also organized Tampa's first march against hate crimes.

Mayor Freedman's housing initiative, called the Mayor's Challenge Fund, was a public-private partnership with local lending institutions and private non-profit agencies that allows public housing residents who could not qualify for conventional financing to own their own homes. Mayor Freedman also organized the annual Paint Your Heart Out Tampa program. Freedman also instituted a policy that prohibits city employees from using racist, sexist and religious slurs. During Mayor Freedman's administration, she appointed a substantial number of minorities and women to top management positions in the City Government.  The city's first working Women's and Minority Business Enterprise program was started to promote greater minority participation in city contracts.

During Mayor Freedman's terms in office, the Tampa opened a new City Convention Center; opened the Florida Aquarium, instituted a city-wide recycling program and water conservation program;  initiated the award-winning annual Hillsborough River clean-up program; and restored Bayshore Boulevard.  She managed to keep a level millage tax rate, despite shrinking funds, without significant cuts in city services.  In 1990, Tampa was designated as the "All-American City."

After serving the remainder of Mayor Martinez's term and two terms in her own right, Sandy Freedman is now retired but still actively involved in civic affairs.

Sources for this Biographical Sketch:

Covington, Dr. James W., and Wavering, Debbie Lee, "The Mayors of Tampa: A Brief Administrative History," Tampa, FL: University of Tampa, 1987.

Tampa/Hillsborough County Library Main Branch: Newspaper Clipping Collection on Sandra Freedman

City of Tampa Archives: Papers of Mayor Sandra Freedman City of Tampa

Mayor's Office: Biography of Sandra Freedman

Personal telephone interview with former Mayor Freedman on September 29, 2005.