The last seat on the Oakland Park Commission goes to Matt Sparks.
In a competitive race, Sparks, Steven Arnst and Scott Herman were separated by less than a half a percentage point, which triggered an automatic recount. Following a recount process – delayed by a malfunctioning machine – Sparks was awarded the third commissioner post on Saturday.
Sparks collected 3,693 votes to finish behind Mayor Tim Lonergan (4,414 votes) and Commissioner Sara Guevrekian (4,193 votes).
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A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sparks, 50, is a flight attendant for American Airlines. He has been with American for 21 years.
“And I have 20 to go,” he said.
This was Sparks’ first election to public office. Although the election was non-partisan, Sparks said he is a Democrat.
“I don’t fit into a pretty box,” he said. “I’m fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I believe in a hand up and not a hand out. I believe in helping those less fortunate. It is important to help people get to a point where they can be self sustaining.”
Nine candidates campaigned for three open seats in the citywide election. Situated west and north of Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Sparks said, is a community where you “get to know your neighbors fast.”
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Sparks lives in the Corals neighborhood north of city hall.
“I am blessed to have a home, a job and a loving partner,” he said.
Sparks and his partner Scott Hindley are engaged to be married next month. Hindley is a member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida.