Dean Trantalis Interview

     With the elections just ending, it’s hard to grasp that in just two months, residents in District II in Fort Lauderdale will go to the polls to elect a new Commissioner – well maybe – let me explain!

     You see, of the three candidates that have already announced a run for the  District II open seat, (primary on January 15th) two of them have already been the District II Commissioner before.

     The three candidates are newcomer Chuck Black, and repeats Charlotte Rodstrom and Dean Trantalis.

Black on right                             Rodstrom

     The seat is open due to the resignation of Rodstrom, who stepped down to run for the County Commission, but lost. She is now trying to return to her seat on the City Commission.

     Trantalis sat down with me yesterday for an interview.

    Trantalis lives in Poinsettia Heights in Fort Lauderdale. He is a 59 year old lawyer, with a law office in Wilton Manors.

     He is one of the most well known gay rights activist in the State, and served one term on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission – 2003-2006.

  Trantalis decided not to run for re-election to his District II seat in 2006. He said at the time that the job had stressed his law practice, strained his family relations, and that his father was quite ill and he wanted to spend time with him.

     Trantalis said that was then and this is now. He says his “life has changed“. He says his father has passed, his law firm is on solid footing (“with a great staff”), and he and his partner have split – I’m seeking a marriage with my community”, he smiled and added.

     When Trantalis first ran in 2003, he beat Rodstrom and four other candidates to win the open seat .

    The seat was an open seat, because I had decided, after serving 2 terms as the District II Commissioner, that I would voluntarily give up the seat and run for Mayor.

     Trantalis won the open District II seat, ( I lost the Mayor’s race to incumbent Jim Naugle), and when Trantalis decided not to run for re-election in 2006, he endorsed Rodstrom to fill the District II seat, which she won.
     A few years later, his relationship soured with Rodstrom. It stemmed from the verbal beatings Rodstrom was constantly giving to City Manager George Gretsas, a close ally to Trantalis.

      Trantalis said their relationship is better now, even though they are competitors for the District II seat again, but confided that Rodstrom did tell him they couldn’t “kiss each other” anymore when they meet in public.

     Trantalis says he thinks the City is troubled. He says the financial picture is “tenuous at best”. He says union pensions are “much too generous”.

     He says many of the neighborhoods are in trouble. He cites the high rate of crime in the “western” neighborhoods. Says the Police Department is not taking it serious enough. Says he wants a more proactive police plan – adds that reduction in crime is his “number one priority”.

Trantalis also says he will work hard to bring redevelopment to the inland parts of District II. Trantalis was known as a very “slow growth” Commissioner, and some say he did little to redevelop the underdeveloped parts of the District when he was a Commissioner. He says he sees it differently now, and has already met with some developers to encourage them to come into the 13th Street corridor area of the District.

     But when it comes to building at the beach, don’t count on much support for any tall buildings there from Trantalis.

      Trantalis says he has “concerns” with City Manager Feldman, but plans on giving him “the benefit of the doubt in the first year”.

     He gives Mayor Seiler much higher ratings than his predecessor – Naugle-  “without a doubt”, but is critical of Seiler for being a “mediator, not an initiator”.

      Trantalis thinks he can win the seat, but is ready for battle. He says he hopes the campaign focuses on issues, and is positive. 

     But when asked if he’ll fight fire with fire if the going gets hot, he says it depends on “how hot the fire gets”!. 

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