Polling is over, the votes have been tallied and for the first time ever an openly gay man has been elected to the Lake Worth City Council.
A 32 year Lake Worth resident and business owner Andy Amoroso, 47, was sworn in Nov. 14 after defeating incumbent Jo-Ann Golden in a Nov. 8 election which saw Amoroso receive more than 59 percent of the vote.
Amoroso is one of the founding members of the Lake Worth Downtown Cultural Alliance and a member of the Community Redevelopment Association – a post he had to relinquish due to conflict of interest with his running for office. In order to get elected he harnessed his support as a local businessman to flex his political muscle.
“He’s such a big part of the business owning community. He gives us advice and is a friend to all of us. Pro-business is what this city needs,” says Debbie Null, 54, a three and a half year Lake Worth resident and owner of the Mango Inn Bed and Breakfast. “Even before he ran, people were always in his shop talking about business happenings in Lake Worth and he was always there to lend an ear and voice his opinion.”
Amoroso owns Studio 205, an LGBT store, in downtown Lake Worth, and adds that he is also the first business owner to be elected in Lake Worth.
As far as he sees it, though, business was not the only concern people took with them to the polls.
He’s more than quick to admit that his predecessor, and the prior administration as a whole, kept residents in the dark about how they were impacted – or rather, negatively impacted – through the actions of city council whom, he adds, raised taxes and made judgments for people that had no idea what affect it was having on them.
Not only does Amoroso believe that he brings with him a sense of what the community and local businesses need, but his track record is, if nothing else, far transcendent of the apathetic, non-involved citizen.
“The people wanted change,” Amoroso says speaking on his defeat of incumbent Golden. “She was there for four and a half years and not a lot got done. I brought in the New Publix, the Palm Beach County cultural commission got a $23 million grant through the Obama administration and now we’re buying abandoned and foreclosed properties and using both Habitat for Humanity and Adopt-A-Family to sell these houses at fair market value to help families move to this area and help stimulate tax revenue.”
And he did it all as a volunteer to this point.
“He’s one of the biggest cheerleaders the Lake Worth community has,” Null says enthusiastically. “People didn’t vote on his sexuality regardless of there being a large gay population in Lake Worth…it was way more than that.”
“They wanted someone who knew the community and someone who would support them in all of their endeavors both socially and economically,” she continued.
Speaking on the issue of sexuality, Amoroso adds, “I had a woman walk in to my shop a couple of weeks ago and say she was voting for me because she supports the gay community and I told her that I couldn’t accept that. I told her to look at the issues, not my sexuality, and then make a decision. My being gay has never been a point of contention nor has it drawn attention to me, so I certainly didn’t want it to become a part of my political platform, and it didn’t.”
Looking to the future, Amoroso looks forward to transforming the city he loves in to one that others enjoy equally.
“Lake Worth has great assets, but we don’t do anything to market them and we need to start,” he says. “The Sun-Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post both recently wrote stories on us being one of the top new tourist destinations in south Florida – particularly because of our diverse culture and LGBT population.”
“We have everything here. A beach, great shops, cottages, places for people to stay and we need to start using these things to our advantage,” he says. “ And that’s what I’m here for.”