Voters in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday
selected Dean Trantalis as their next mayor.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting,
received 64 percent of the vote, while Bruce Roberts, a former
police chief and the city's current vice mayor, received 35 percent.
The 64-year-old Trantalis becomes the
first openly gay mayor of a major Florida city, according to LGBT
rights advocate Equality Florida.
“Mayor-elect Trantalis has a true
passion for public service and fighting for civil rights,” U.S.
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Weston, said
in a statement. “This is a massive victory for Broward County and
the LGBT community nationwide.”
Trantalis, who has served in the Fort
Lauderdale city commission twice, said that he was glad the race was
focused on issues such as infrastructure, traffic, overdevelopment
and the homeless, not about “gay or not gay.”
Trantalis' sexuality, however, is more
than just symbolic in a city where mayors have at times clashed with
LGBT groups. Former Mayor Jim Naugle, who served for 18 years, made
headlines with a 2007 campaign to rid the city's parks of gay men.
Naugle said he was protecting children and saving lives from HIV.
Police, however, reported few problems in the parks. He also said
that he doesn't use the word gay because “most of them aren't gay,
they're unhappy.” Mayor Jack Seiler in 2014 voted against a
symbolic resolution in support of marriage equality.