Wilton Manors Votes Straight Gay

Voters on Tuesday elected the city’s first all LGBT commission, choosing Justin Flippen as mayor in a landslide victory, as well as veteran politician Gary Resnick and city activist Paul Rolli as its two new commissioners.

Longtime city commissioner Scott Newton, 60, who served as mayor from 2004-2008 and commissioner from 2000-2004 and 2010 to present, was voted out. Newton, the only straight member of the commission, ran on a platform of experience. Also defeated was Katharine “Kat” Campbell, 43, a licensed clinical social worker and mother.

Resnick said being part of an all gay city commission is significant. The victory marked his 10th in the city, over the years.

“When you look at where we have come from, it’s not that long ago when we weren’t even allowed to get married or have kids,” Resnick noted. “In a relatively short amount of time, we are now accepted as people’s city officials.”

He expects the transition from mayor to commission to be smooth.

“I just look forward to continuing to do what I can to help the city,” Resnick said.

“I think it will be fine. When I was mayor I always treated everybody equally and I hope that will continue and look forward to continuing to work.”

Rolli, who ran a far-reaching grassroots campaign, knocked on doors and showed up at events and venues all over the city, attributed his win to hard work and a good message.

“It’s overwhelming to win and it’s overwhelming to come in first place,” said Rolli, who was the top vote getter of all four commission candidates. “I’m very excited. I ran to win and I won. I’m looking forward to serving all the residents.”

The election in this quirky, upscale bedroom community of nearly 13,000 residents known as the “second gayest city” in the U.S. focused on everything from strategic growth and water quality to parking and fiscal responsibility.

Flippen, 40, soundly defeated opponent Boyd Corbin, 50, running on a platform of experience, fiscal responsibility, inclusive community values and protecting neighborhoods’ small town feel. He said he wanted to strengthen public safety, protect the city’s neighborhoods and find new ways to lower water rates.

“I am so overwhelmed and so thrilled and so happy,” Flippen said from his victory party late Tuesday at D Bar and Lounge in Wilton Manors. “I think I have a track record of being very representative of the people of Wilton Manors and their values and concerns.”

During the election, Flippen touted his longtime ties to Wilton Manors and his lifelong connection to Broward County as reasons to elect him mayor. When he ran for office in 2014, he positioned himself as “The People’s Commissioner,” because of his grassroots approach to public service, popular appeal and city connections.

A project manager with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Conventions and Visitors Bureau, Flippen grew up in Wilton Manors. He’s served six years on the commission — from 2008-2010 and 2014 to present.

Resnick, a lawyer who served as commissioner from 1998-2008 and mayor from 2008 to present, is Florida’s longest serving openly gay elected official.

The mayor’s post is a two-year term and the two at-large commission seats are each four-year terms.

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