Wilton Manors Elects Florida’s First All-LGBTQ City Council, Second in U.S.

A hamlet which describes itself as America’s “second-gayest city” became the first in Florida to elect an all-LGBTQ city council on Tuesday.

For the first time in its history, all four members of the Wilton Manors City Commission are queer or transgender. Paul Rolli and Gary Resnick won the two open seats on the four-person government body, beating Scott Newton in a three-way race. Newton, who was campaigning for reelection, was the last heterosexual city commissioner.

Julie Carson and Tom Green, who were already seated on the commission, were not up for reelection and will retain their seats.

The all-LGBTQ body will be joined by Justin Flippen, the city’s newest gay mayor. Flippen, the former vice mayor and city commissioner, effectively traded spots with Resnick. The outgoing mayor was elected in 2008, holding the office for 10 years before seeking a spot on the commission.

Rolli called the election a “turning point for the future of Wilton Manors” on his campaign website. But in a statement, Flippen said the Ft. Lauderdale suburb has always been a progressive leader.

“I owe so much of who I am to the Island City,” the mayor-elect claimed, “from my childhood and formative years, to the local businesses I have relied upon since owning my first car, to the supportive community that provided me a safe environment to be who I am, to serving on civic and city boards, and being elected twice to the city commission.”

Wilton Manors has long been a safe haven for the LGBTQ community in a politically divided state. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the central Florida city has the second-highest concentration of queer and trans residents in the country, behind only Provincetown, Mass.

Tuesday’s milestone made Wilton Manors just the second city to have an all-LGBTQ council. Palm Springs, Calif. claimed the nation’s first last year—with the “L,” “G,” “B,” and “T” all represented on its city council.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports queer and trans candidates seeking public office, called the election an “exciting moment” for Florida.

“LGBTQ people are severely under-represented at every level of government, so to have an all-LGBTQ city commission and an LGBTQ mayor in Wilton Manors would be an exciting moment, especially given the strong LGBTQ community there,” claimed its political director, Sean Meloy, in a statement.

The Wilton Manors city commission race wasn’t the only victory for LGBTQ Floridians on Nov. 6.

The Sunshine State elected its first out lesbian official, Jennifer Webb, to the Florida House of Representatives. Gay Latino lawmaker Carlos Guillermo Smith also won his second term in the legislature, as did African-American Shevrin Jones, who came out as gay earlier this year.

But it wasn’t all good news. Democrat Andrew Gillum was defeated by conservative Ron DeSantis, who urged voters not to “monkey this up” during the gubernatorial race.

Meanwhile, it looks as if the former governor, Republican Rick Scott, will succeed to the U.S. Senate. Scott, who failed to pass a promised nondiscrimination ordinance following the Pulse nightclub shooting, leads Democrat Bill Nelson by just over 30,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

At the time of publication, the contest remains too close to call.

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