We are at the dawn of a new day in Fort Lauderdale, and I feel so honored that the voters have chosen me to lead the city forward.
We have such a diverse population, unique neighborhoods and a thriving business community. This city is poised for greatness and has the power to solve the challenges that face us. But that only happens if we work together – the people, the business community and City Hall united.
The people of Fort Lauderdale spoke loud and clear in the March 13 election. More people voted in this election than in the city’s history. This was a mandate telling us to get things done.
I promised that I would be the people’s mayor, the people’s champion at City Hall. Accessibility and responsiveness have long been my hallmark. As your mayor now, I will make sure that we collaborate more and listen more. We will demand the best from our professional staff and lead a progressive agenda.
Clearly, our aging infrastructure must be the top priority. We will upgrade our water, sewer and stormwater systems in a fiscally responsible manner. Never again should residents deal with sewage spilling from manholes into their streets and yards. At the same time, we must meet the challenges we face as a coastal community because of climate change.
We must be smart about growth. Development must be sensible, maintain the character of our neighborhoods and not overburden our roads and infrastructure.
We will look for ways to solve our congested streets. There are solutions, and they start with coordinating with the county so Fort Lauderdale becomes the leader in next-generation signal synchronization.
Many have been concerned about the plans for the Wave streetcar. We clearly need to rethink this project. Overhead wires and in-ground tracks are not a good fit for our community. At the same time, public transportation is needed as we advance further into the 21st century. With new technologies, we can lead on this matter rather than remaining behind the times.
Public safety will receive our full focus. We must do everything we can to keep our city safe. That means a stronger emphasis on community policing.
We also need to do more than offer thoughts and prayers in the wake of the tragic deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. We must press Tallahassee and Washington for gun reform. Let’s also stop the gun shows at War Memorial Auditorium. It’s not safe when there are children playing so close by in a park.
We have a robust economy centered on tourism, yachting and real estate, but we must continue to make improvements. We must attract high-paying jobs and ensure that affordable housing is available.
In regards to our marine industry, we need to be concerned about what transpires with the Bahia Mar property. I am seriously concerned that the project has jeopardized the future of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The developer refuses to share the Boat Show lease with us although it has been public in the past. We need to see that lease.
Let me make this clear: I want to tap into the talent of the people of our community.
To that end, I want to explore the opportunity to deploy targeted private sector reviews of city operations. We have experts in our neighborhoods and our businesses here. We should involve these people in finding ways to improve how City Hall works with best practices and private sector innovation. They can help make the city more responsive to residents and those who want to invest and do business here.
What an opportunity.
Now on a personal note. I am humbled that Fort Lauderdale has become the largest city in Florida ever to elect an openly LGBT candidate as its mayor. This has been a long time coming. Our community has blossomed in recent years with a new sense of joy in the diversity we share.
Looking at the new City Commission, the city’s vast diversity is well represented now.
I thank former Mayor Jack Seiler and former commissioners Bruce Roberts and Romney Rogers for their commitment to this city and wish them well. I welcome Commissioners Steve Glassman, Ben Sorensen and Heather Moraitis to the dais and congratulate Commissioner Robert McKinzie on his re-election. I look forward to working with all of them.
It is truly a new day in Fort Lauderdale. As your mayor, I will respect our history, respect our diversity, and respect the people of this wonderful community. We’re going to make City Hall more accountable to the people and ensure City Hall listen to your voices.
From homelessness to economic development, I look forward to new progress. I look forward to working with all of you. We will make Fort Lauderdale a stronger and more vibrant community. I am excited to begin this next chapter in the story of Fort Lauderdale.