Dean Trantalis makes history as first openly gay mayor of Fort Lauderdale

64-year-old commissioner defeats former police chief Bruce Roberts

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Voters in Fort Lauderdale elected the city's first openly gay mayor Tuesday.

Dean Trantalis defeated Bruce Roberts in a runoff election to replace longtime Mayor Jack Seiler.

Trantalis received more than 5,800 votes than Roberts.

Trantalis, 64, has been serving as a city commissioner since 2009 and is a longtime champion of equal rights.

Roberts, a former Fort Lauderdale police chief, is the current vice mayor. The 70-year-old was first elected commissioner in 2009 but is facing term limits.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham and Philip Levine took to Twitter to congratulate Trantalis, as did U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida.

A decade ago, then-Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle made headlines after he said the city needed to buy single-occupancy public toilets on the beach to "reduce homosexual sex in bathrooms." He also opposed a plan to put a collection of gay and lesbian literature in a public library. It was ultimately approved.

Naugle's comments drew the ire of gay residents, including Trantalis, who became the city's first openly gay elected official in 2003. Trantalis decided not to seek re-election in 2006, but he was an outspoken opponent of Naugle's anti-gay message.

Trantalis previously ran for mayor in 2009 but lost to Seiler.

Steven Glassman, who is also openly gay, handily defeated opponent Tim Smith for one of the city's two open commission seats.

Glassman is a former teacher who previously lost out in a 2009 commission bid.

Smith is a former city commissioner and vice mayor.

In the race between Benjamin Sorensen and Warren Sturman, Sorensen had a slight lead.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

In nearby Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Chris Vincent narrowly led Mark Brown in the race to replace Scot Sasser as mayor.

Vincent is a town commissioner who is facing term limits. A native of New York, the building contractor moved to Broward County in 1987.

Brown served as a town commissioner for nearly six years before resigning in December to run for mayor.

Sasser announced in October that he wouldn't seek re-election.

Florida Keys

Voters in two Florida Keys cities were presented with ballot questions.

Key West voters were asked to determine whether they wanted to raise the maximum height for affordable workforce housing projects on College Road.

In Key Colony Beach, voters received two ballot questions related to the election process. The first asked voters if city commissioners should serve four-year terms instead of two-year terms.

The other asked voters whether they wanted a tie between two candidates to be decided by the city clerk instead of a runoff election.

Voter turnout for Tuesday's election was slightly more than 16 percent. The low turnout could be attributed to residents who are still struggling to get their lives back in order after Hurricane Irma.
A Monroe County elections supervisor said three precincts still didn't have working telephones.

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