Tim Lonergan is asking the voters of Oakland Park for another term.
A gay man, Lonergan has served three and half years on the city commission and is currently Oakland Park’s sitting mayor.
“There’s more to accomplish,” Lonergan told SFGN in a telephone conversation Monday afternoon just as early voting kicked off in Broward County.
A Wisconsin native, Lonergan moved to Florida in 2000. He joined the Oakland Park Volunteer Corps in 2006 and began bicycling around the city, getting to know the lay of the land.
“That’s when I noticed we didn’t have garbage cans at all of our bus stops,” he said.
Lonergan took care of that issue and has moved on to numerous other projects during his tenure. He cites the addition of a fulltime detective assigned to the city, a new fire truck, an emerging culinary arts district and millions in grants for improved public school facilities as proof Oakland Park is moving in the right direction.
“We’re doing the right things and home values are going up,” Lonergan said.
The Oakland Park election is an interesting format as nine candidates compete for three commission seats. Four of the candidates – Lonergan, Mitchell Stollberg-Appleyard, Scott Herman and Mitch Rosenwald – are openly gay.
Lonergan married his partner, Floyd Adams, last year shortly after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which granted marriage rights to same-sex couples nationwide. The couple have been together for 21 years.
“He’s by my side,” Lonergan said of his spouse. “I’m very proud of who I am, but I’ve never been the kind of person that pushes it down everyone’s throat.”
Stollberg-Appleyard’s campaign has raised awareness of the deteriorating conditions of several public school facilities.
“Our schools our crumbling around our students,” he said. “They are breathing in mildew and mold. Roofs are leaking. Rust is coming out of bathroom faucets. This is not how a child should be going to school.”
Lonergan identified Northeast High School has a priority for improvement. He said he spoke with Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie about the need to spend bond and grant money on upgrading Oakland Park’s schools.
“I’m tired of hearing families say they are moving out of our city because they have kids now and they need to enroll them in good schools,” Lonergan said.
Meanwhile, Herman, who narrowly lost a special election for the Oakland Park Commission in March, has questioned Lonergan’s campaign finances. Donations from real estate developer William Murphy to Lonergan are, in Herman’s opinion, evidence of special interests influence.
“I’m disappointed Scott keeps bringing up all these things,” Lonergan said. “He’s (Herman) stirring up trouble to make himself look good. I’m not bought off by anyone.”
Herman, a disabled combat Iraq War veteran, is campaigning on the slogan “principles over politics.” This is his fourth attempt to win elected public office in Broward County and he has made veteran’s issues and homeless outreach central tenets of his campaign.
Rosenwald is seeking public office for the first time. With a background in social work, Rosenwald said he is “proud of the city’s direction” and wants it to “grow smartly.”
In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Oakland Park to have a population of a little more than 41,000. Lonergan described the city as a “blue collar, hard-working community.”