Steve Glassman believes he should be re-elected.
Glassman, in his first term on the Fort Lauderdale Commission, has put a lot of check marks on his to-do list. A gay man, Glassman represents the residents of Fort Lauderdale’s District 2.
“I feel proud of what we accomplished,” Glassman said in a telephone interview. “I feel that we’ve done what we said we were going to do and even more and still there is a lot of work to do. I feel my constituents will say ‘yes, he deserves a second term.’”
Fort Lauderdale’s District 2 is the most diverse of the city’s four districts, according to Glassman.
“My district is the most diverse district in our city,” Glassman said. “The others are pretty homogeneous. Culturally, ethnically, sexual orientation, economically. We have the richest citizens in this city. We have the poorest citizens in this city. We have every cultural group you can imagine. We’re a melting pot and we are a microcosm of not only the city, but of the country.”
Glassman still has a lot of that New Yorker in him when he talks about his accomplishments. He’s been able to make progress on multiple issues. Before relocating to Fort Lauderdale, Glassman lived in Buffalo, N.Y. where he was an educator. Buffalo is also where Glassman met his longtime partner and spouse, Rande. The couple has been together for 47 years.
They moved to the Fort Lauderdale area in 1994 and have called District 2 home for 20 years. In his first term on the city dais, Glassman pushed through Fort Lauderdale’s LGBT encompassing human rights ordinance.
“We have a very strong ordinance,” Glassman said. “I was very proud of the fact I worked on that, I brought that up, I introduced that and we passed it unanimously on two readings. Very proud of that.”
Glassman has drawn an opponent for the seat. Kyle C. Gibson has filed paperwork for the commission seat. Glassman said he has yet to meet Gibson. SFGN reached out to Gibson for comment, but the call was not returned.
“Unlike that last election, I’m not going to be paying attention to my opponent,” Glassman said.
Along with the human rights ordinance, Glassman points to his commitment to the arts and beautification projects.
“Very important in terms of a sense of place,” Glassman said of arts and culture.
The Commissioner also highlights the revived aquatics center on the beach and in the Middle River Terrace neighborhood as examples of progress.
“We had a lot of projects that were kicked down the road for many years. For instance, the aquatics center, the swimming hall of fame on A1A, 15 years of stalled negotiations,” Glassman said. “I’m proud of that, it’s going to be again a world-class competitive facility,” Glassman said.
Glassman is especially proud of the city’s work on the Annie Beck House.
“We have taken over the historic Annie Beck House in Middle River Terrace Park,” he said. “That was an area that had seen some crime issues and we have a police officer now living in that house.”
Glassman said he works well with his fellow Commissioners and Mayor Dean Trantalis, who held his seat before becoming mayor. He said 154 public works projects have been initiated in the last two and a half years. Not all development projects got his approval.
“When I felt that projects were not smart, I voted no,” Glassman said.
“It’s all about smart growth in terms of development.”
In terms of tackling COVID-19, Glassman said it’s a complicated situation.
“It’s been a challenge and a balance to find,” Glassman said. “On one hand, public safety and everyone’s health is priority and yet we also have an economy that we can’t totally kill and people have to be able to make a living. We’re trying to find that balance, so far the numbers haven’t been great in Florida.”
More than 13,000 Floridians have died from COVID-19. Broward County has more than 76,000 positive cases. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been criticized for his slow response to the virus and refusal to declare mandatory face coverings statewide.
“We did have instances where folks were not paying attention to what they needed to do,” Glassman admitted. “It’s kind of simple: Wear a mask, socially distance, don’t be in crowds of 10 or more, no house parties, no vacation rentals, don’t go crazy, don’t crowd and get crowds in your home and these have been addressed and we’ve also had to step up enforcement recently. That’s been very helpful for us because people are getting citations and fines.”
Reforming the city’s police department is another Glassman action item. He called the old police station on Broward Boulevard “decrepit” and an “embarrassment to our city.” A demolition and re-design are planned, Glassman said.
On infrastructure issues, where sewer pipe issues have generated considerable coverage — often not flattering of the city, Glassman instead promotes his work with District 4 Commissioner Ben Sorensen on transportation and mobility.
“We’re focused on improving medians, landscaping and color not just concrete and weeds,” Glassman said.
Million-dollar bonds are proposed for parks and the police.
Fort Lauderdale, Glassman said, has a population of around 185,000. It’s the largest city in Broward County with a port, airport and rich tourism history. It has its share of wealthy retirees and it also those in need of shelter. Glassman said the city has funding in place to help those who desire or need to get off the streets.
Through “CARES” funding, the city can offer shelter venues.
“We’re the most active community in Broward for extending funds for the homeless,” Glassman said.
Glassman said he acknowledges times are tough for people.
“A lot more people are living on the edge right now,” Glassman said.
“Loss of unemployment benefits, the federal government seems to be struggling right now. Florida has had a problem with that just the sheer numbers of unemployed. I’m definitely concerned about what we might see as trends in the next couple of months.”
It has been reported there are 800,000 Floridians out of work. DeSantis said in August he was seeking to raise unemployment benefits to $400 per week.
Although budgeted as a part-time position, the Commission seat is not easy work.
“I’ve tried to be as engaged as possible,” Glassman said. “This hasn’t been a part-time job although technically it's supposed to be. It’s been a full-time job for me. And I’m really pleased with some of the progress we’ve made in the city.”
Commissioner Glassman is endorsed by the Dolphin Democrats, Broward Young Democrats, Women's March Broward, LGBTQ Alliance and the Victory Fund.
Voting begins the third week in September with the election Nov. 3.
Read more about upcoming elections here: Your South Florida and Beyond 2020 Election Coverage