TAMARAC - A psychotherapist with a counseling practice in Fort Lauderdale would be the city’s first openly gay commissioner if elected in November.
Woodmont resident Doug Maesk, 56, faces incumbent Debra Placko, 68, in the race for the District 4 seat. Placko has served on the commission since 2014 and is running on a platform of integrity, honesty and experience.
Maesk wants to be the voice for people in the city who don’t have a voice. He’s concerned about overdevelopment and fiscal irresponsibility, especially in regard to commission travel.
Last year, commissioners spent $80,000 on trips to places like San Diego, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Pittsburg, and Charlotte, N.C. Maesk said the spending is out of line.
“I think it shows they are not being good stewards of our tax dollars. That kind of thing put me over the edge and made me decide I wanted to run,” Maesk said.
Recently the commission approved construction of a huge golf course maintenance building despite a petition signed by every homeowner in the nearby community opposing the project.
Maesk wants to know why.
“I feel there’s fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement,” he said. “Development is going to happen but I think it needs to be smart and with the residents' needs in mind. It’s almost like the current commission hears but they are not listing. I am in a listening profession so I should be good at it.”
Maesk has been married to Noel Serra, a professional photographer and office manager, for 10 years. The two married in Boston when “it was the only place you could get married.”
His husband often accompanies him when he’s on the campaign trail knocking on doors.
Maesk believes it’s time LGBT people also have a path in Tamarac to make their voices heard.
“LGBT people have historically been under-represented or not represented and I want to change that because the city is becoming younger and the city is becoming more diverse. I think the City Commission needs to reflect the community,” Maesk said.
Estimates indicate that about 10 percent of the overall population is gay. And if that’s true, there are about 6,000 LGBT people in Tamarac, he said.
“Where is their representation?” Maesk asked. “And that really ties into this whole thing I am talking about: Being the voice for the people who don’t have a voice.”