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Naugle Out, Gay
Candidates Defeated in Fort Lauderdale Race

Naugle Out, Gay
Candidates Defeated in Fort Lauderdale Race

Jack Seiler defeated a three other candidates, including two gay hopefuls, to take over as mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a city that has been rocked by its outgoing mayor's numerous tirades against gay residents.

Jack Seiler defeated a three other candidates, including two gay hopefuls, to take over as mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a city that has been rocked by its outgoing mayor's numerous tirades against gay residents.

Seiler was elected to the position Tuesday after raising $255,705 in campaign contributions as of February 5, more than all of his opponents combined, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. His decisive win, with 57.3% of the vote, was enough to avoid a runoff in March. Gay candidates Dean Trantalis and Earl Rynerson garnered 22.6% and 15.3% respectively. Steve Rossi placed fourth with 4.8% of the vote.

Trantalis told the South Florida Blade Tuesday that Seiler was able to entice business insiders and developers to support his candidacy, but the fact that he was running against two gay opponents also probably helped him win.

"I think there's still an element of homophobia in Fort Lauderdale," Trantalis said. "And I think to that extent many people were afraid of having the image of a city with a gay mayor, and I think that brought out votes to vote against me."

Seiler, 45, will be sworn in March 17. An attorney, he served eight years in the Florida house of representatives and was mayor of Wilton Manors, a Fort Lauderdale suburb with a large gay population.

"We've got to focus not on divisive issues but moving the city forward," Seiler said Tuesday night, according to TheMiami Herald. "Now the work begins. The city has got great potential."

Seiler was endorsed by Mayor Jim Naugle, who held the seat for 18 years and is leaving due to term limits. In July 2007, Naugle proposed spending $230,000 on "robo toilets" to cut down on public sex in restrooms among gay men.

Naugle subsequently disclosed that he used the term "homosexual" instead of "gay" because, he said, gays are "unhappy." By the end of the month, Naugle also expressed his opposition to the LGBT archive proposed for the city's public library, which ended up being approved anyway. Activists across the city and state called for his resignation, but he remained in office.

In 2008, Naugle campaigned as a leading Democratic supporter of the state's Amendment 2, which changed its constitution to ban any arrangement that even resembles marriage for same-sex couples. (Michelle Garcia, Advocate.com)

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