In Oakland Park, four gay candidates are vying for three commission seats.
In total, seven candidates are running for the commission. They are Mayor Matt Sparks, former Mayor Steve Arnst, businesswoman Aisha Gordon, Army veteran Scott Herman, Barry University professor Mitch Rosenwald, mental health counselor Grecia Rivas-Smith and former firefighter Robert B. Thompson.
Sparks, Herman, Rosenwald and Thompson are all gay men. Sparks, a flight attendant, is endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Equality Florida, SAVE and Dolphin Democrats. As the only incumbent running in Oakland Park, Sparks has “a unique bank of knowledge,” said the Victory Fund.
“He is committed to representing both the diverse residents of Oakland Park as well as the LGBTQ community,” the organization stated in its endorsement issued Oct. 11. “As an openly gay and HIV+ Mayor, he is proud to lead visibly from the dais, breaking stigmas through action and education.”
Herman and Thompson have been elected to public office in other states. Herman was elected vice-chairman of the Cabarrus County Soil and Water Conservation District in North Carolina, becoming the first gay Republican elected to public office in the Tar Heel state. He later switched to Democrat, he said, when the party’s platform changed to be accepting of same-sex families. A disabled Army combat veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Herman and is vice president of Broward Veterans Coalition.
Thompson is a former two-term New Hampshire state representative and activist in the marriage equality movement. He has been endorsed by SAVE Action PAC and Equality Florida Action PAC.
In addition to Sparks, The Dolphin Democrats have endorsed Rosenwald and Rivas-Smith.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports for the period ending Aug. 31, Rosenwald led all candidates in fundraising with $20,063.78, followed by Sparks $13,775, Gordon $6,718, Rivas-Smith $4,897.20 and Thompson $2,436.33. Arnst and Herman filed waivers and did not report any contributions.
Commissioners are elected to four-year terms with the highest voter getter assuming mayoral duties. The mayor serves for one year.
In 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Oakland Park to have a population of 44,339. The city was incorporated in 1929 on land north of Fort Lauderdale.