Voters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida have
decided on who'll replace anti-gay Mayor Jim Naugle.
In a nonpartisan primary yesterday, the
citizens of Fort Lauderdale voted in Jack Seiler, who, because he won
a majority (57%) of the vote, will go on to become mayor, the South
Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
Seiler is not necessarily a
gay-affirming candidate, but even that must seem palatable to the gay
and lesbian community that has so often been ridiculed by its mayor
over the years.
Two of the four candidates running –
former city commissioner and gay activist Dean Trantalis and
businessman Earl Rynerson – said they pursued the job because of
the mayor's anti-gay stance.
Trantalis took only 23% of the vote;
Rynerson trailed with 15%.
Naugle has served as mayor of Fort
Lauderdale for 18 years, but was prohibited from running this year
due to term limits.
In July, the outgoing mayor upset the
gay and lesbian community over remarks that a gay mayoral candidate
could win if he was a “responsible homosexual”. Speaking on
850WFTL conservative talk radio, Naugle was asked if he believed a
gay candidate could win the mayor's race.
“I think that a homosexual does have
a chance to be elected mayor in Ft. Lauderdale, if they reject that
notion that it's okay to take over our parks and public spaces with
that kind of activity,” Naugle said, referring to men having sex in
park restrooms. “I mean if a responsible homosexual would run for
office and reject that kind of activity, if a responsible homosexual
were to run for office and do something about the AIDS crisis --
recognizing that promiscuous activity has a heavy cost on human life
When asked if he would be remembered as
the anti-gay mayor, Naugel disagreed, “I want to be remembered as
one of the first politicians that rejected political correctness.”
There certainly was little politically
correct about his 2007 campaign to rid the city's parks of gay men.
Naugle said he had ordered police to arrest men accused of having sex
in park restrooms because he was protecting children, and later added
that he was saving lives from HIV. Yet, from the beginning of the
controversy police reported few problems in the parks.
He also found himself in hot water
later that year when he said, “I use the word homosexual. Most of
them aren't gay; they're unhappy.”
Seiler, 45, is a married lawyer with
four children. He approached the issue of Naugle's remarks in a
recent forum where he said he wants everyone to “feel welcome” in
But then added he felt Naugle might
have been misunderstood. “I think a lot of this was taken out of
context,” Seiler said. “I think the comments at times, maybe
even Jim wanted to have back the way those comments came out.”