Voters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., elected the city’s first openly gay mayor, Dean Trantalis, in a race that is being described as a nail-biter according to Bryan Wilson, Executive Director of Sunserve Ft. Lauderdale, and a friend of Trantalis.
Trantalis, 64, a Wilton Manors attorney, defeated Bruce Roberts, 70, the city’s former police chief, to replace longtime mayor Jack Seiler, who could not run because of term limits.
Despite that according to most reports his sexual identity was a non-issue, says the Sun Sentinel. Voter Leann Barber summed it up in a tweet: “I voted for Dean because he takes a more comprehensive view of the city and looks to address our issues more realistically. Sexual orientation, race, gender doesn’t factor in my decision.”
In terms of city politics, it’s been a dynamic shift in power from ten years ago when then-Mayor Jim Naugle became nationally known for homophobic comments. Among them “reduce homosexual sex in bathrooms” and opposing a plan to put a collection of gay and lesbian literature in a public library. Trantalis was an outspoken critic of the mayor and became known as a fierce advocate for the community.
Trantalis had been serving as Fort Lauderdale’s second District representative where he was well-known and regarded for his transparency and community involvement.
The son of Greek immigrants, Trantalis campaigned on the platform of equal rights for all of the Florida city’s citizens. In fact, added Wilson, “Trantalis’ sexuality was rarely discussed during the campaign until his opponent went negative and sent a mailer with a doctored image of Trantalis in flamboyant clothing and makeup.”
“These are outfits I would never be seen in,” Trantalis joked and brushed off the homophobic attack against him.
Trantalis and his team celebrated their victory at the Thasos Greek Taverna.