As the sun set over downtown Oakland Park, Mayor Aisha Gordon stood on the steps of city hall on Nov. 16 and raised her right hand to take the oath of office, surrounded by her family.
“I don’t win until you win,” she said after being sworn in. “I embrace my new role with a sincere passion to serve. I am honored for the opportunity to be here tonight and to serve as your next mayor.”
After two years of service on the city’s commission, the businesswoman has rotated into the position after serving as vice mayor. The city’s electoral process has candidates run for at-large positions on the commission and rotate its mayor each year.
The commission has said goodbye to Jane Bolin and Michael Carn, both of whom have served as mayor during their time on the dais. Before Gordon took her oath of office, Carn recited a poem he wrote for his colleagues as a goodbye.
Vice Mayor Mitch Rosenwald, a social worker and Barry University professor, was also sworn in. He told SFGN that affordable housing continues to be a priority for him, as well as green initiatives and increasing public participation. He said that there are plans for a workshop in the spring to invite the public to give feedback on how we can improve housing in the city.
After the November midterm election, two familiar faces will be back on the commission: Tim Lonergan and Steven Arnst. Both were in attendance at the ceremony, including a chance to stand up and wave to the rest of the audience. Lonergan joins Rosenwald and Commissioner Matthew Sparks as LGBT members of the commission.
For Lonergan, who served as both commissioner and mayor during his tenure from 2013 to 2020 — he had to wait two years to be able to run again — he wanted to return to city hall to finish out projects he helped start.
“A lot of the projects that are in play right now actually did start during [my tenure]. Part of the reason I wanted to come back was to make sure we successfully complete those things that were scheduled and on the agenda,” he said. “I think city staff and everyone comes together and tries to make Oakland Park the best it can be.”
Arnst also served on the Oakland Park Commission both as a commissioner and mayor, starting in 1993. He also emphasized the need to get more public input and get residents more involved in the changes happening in the city. He also noted that he remembers the Oakland Park police department merging with the county — but as the population has grown since then, the police squad has not. He also said the city’s fire department is “short-handed.”
“We’re very short in the fire department on people,” he said. “We need more cops on the street. Without people feeling safe, downtown doesn’t make it … my big year one [goal] is to start moving more with public safety. I’m a big public safety personnel.”
Lonergan and Arnst’s first commission meeting will be Nov. 30.