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Gay man sworn in as Ft. Lauderdale mayor

by Lisa Keen

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. Photo: Courtesy South Florida Gay News
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. Photo: Courtesy South Florida Gay News  

A gay man was sworn in this week as the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as other gay and lesbian candidates advanced after winning primary races in Texas.

Dean Trantalis, who won his election March 13 with 64 percent of the vote, was sworn in Tuesday as mayor of Fort Lauderdale. The Florida city is just 30 miles north of its more famous gay sister, South Beach. Trantalis won the special election despite some tactics by his opponents aimed at deriding his being gay.

Among the nation's mid-size cities, Fort Lauderdale has, in recent years, become the one with the highest proportion of same-sex households compared to households overall. But the previous two mayors of that city have been less than supportive of equal rights for LGBT citizens.

Trantalis, 64, a real estate attorney and member of the City Commission, was involved with passage of a Broward County law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. And then decided to run for mayor.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, the campaign was unusually ugly for Fort Lauderdale. Opponents of Trantalis distributed campaign flyers with images of Trantalis photoshopped to make it appear he was wearing flamboyant clothing and makeup. Trantalis' opponent in the runoff, Commission Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts, essentially admitted responsibility for the flyers, though he claimed they did not convey any anti-gay intent.

The Sun-Sentinel said voters at the polls preferred Trantalis because "they were convinced Trantalis would help guard against further overdevelopment, and would ensure the city is prepared with sewer pipes and other infrastructure to accommodate it."

Another gay man, Steve Glassman, won a seat on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission with 61 percent of the vote.

Texas races
Lesbian former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez came out on top in the nine-candidate Texas Democratic primary for governor March 6. And alongside that, four out of nine openly LGBT candidates for U.S. House seats from Texas advanced their races.

Valdez, 70, has been a prominent figure since becoming the first lesbian sheriff of Dallas in 2005. She was re-elected three times but resigned last year to run for governor. She won 42.9 percent of the Democratic primary vote, so must face her closest competitor (who won 27 percent) May 22 to secure the party nomination. A second gay candidate in the Texas Democratic gubernatorial primary, Jeffrey Payne, garnered only 4.8 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Governor Greg Abbott won more votes in his primary than all the Democratic candidates combined.

Four out of nine openly LGBT candidates for U.S. House seats from Texas advanced in their primaries this month and will face runoff contests May 22. They include attorney Lorie Burch (3rd Congressional District, Dallas), minister Mary Wilson (21st District, San Antonio and Austin), Iraq War veteran Gina Ortiz Jones (23rd District, San Antonio to El Paso), and public affairs liaison Eric Holguin (27th District, Corpus Christi and Gulf Coast).

Four other LGBT Democrats and one gay Republican candidate for the U.S. House from Texas lost their primaries.

In Texas state Senate primaries, three out of four LGBT candidates advanced, as did eight of 11 State House candidates (though five were unopposed).

In two California cities, gay men are seeking to be mayor.

Gay incumbent Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach is gearing up for re-election. The local paper, the Press-Telegram, called Garcia's bid for a second term a "fait accompli." His primary is April 10.

And in San Francisco, former state senator and former supervisor Mark Leno is up against seven other candidates, seeking to fill the remaining two years left in the term of Mayor Ed Lee, who died suddenly last December. The special election is slated for June 5. Leno is one of the top four candidates, along with Board of Supervisors President London Breed, Supervisor Jane Kim, and former supervisor Angela Alioto, who are all straight allies.

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