If voters elect Dean Trantalis and Steve Glassman to the Fort Lauderdale Commission on March 13, it will be the first time the city has had two openly-gay elected officials and the first time an openly-gay man, Trantalis, has been elected mayor.
Trantalis, currently the Dist. 2 commissioner, faces off against Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts. Glassman faces off against former city commissioners Tim Smith.
Michael Albetta, the regional director of the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus and president of Fort Lauderdale’s Lake Ridge Civic Association, is confident both Trantalis and Glassman, who got the highest percentage of votes in each of their respective races, will win.
“It will definitely be a highlight and kudos for us [in the LGBT community],” said Albetta, who has endorsed both candidates.
But, in Trantalis, Albetta isn’t just excited to see a gay man become mayor for the first time. He’s also excited to see a “true Democrat” get elected. “Before, you always had conservative Democrats. But Dean would be a progressive Democrat.”
Ed Leuchs, a Fort Lauderdale resident and director with the Dolphin Democrats, said it’s the focus by LGBT candidates on issues, rather than running solely on being LGBT, that has made it possible for so many LGBT candidates to win elected office in Florida and across the country.
“I think that tracks the pattern that’s been true nation-wide. Gay people get elected because it was the larger issues that they’ve addressed. Steve really isn’t really running on the fact that he’s gay. He’s running on redevelopment issues. And in Dean’s case, where Dean has gained strength is earning reputation as someone who stays informed and askes probing questions,” Leuchs said.
Even LGBT residents, said Leuchs, don’t support a candidate just because of their sexual orientation. “Even in the gay community people are looking for more than just that. They want to know about other issues they also want to know where [each LGBT candidate] stands on other issues.”
But Leuchs said it’s also of benefit to the community to have more LGBT officials.
“I think that it would be historic and it would be a good thing for the city to have a stronger voice from the [LGBT] community. I think it would indicate to the [LGBT] community that one of the ways that they’re gaining support and influence in the city is that members of the community are not only getting involved in politics but also on issues that have given them support.”