Jack Seiler Faces Two Challengers in Fort Lauderdale Mayoral Race

Jack Seiler (right) after debating homeless advocate Arnold Abbott on local TV.
Jack Seiler (right) after debating homeless advocate Arnold Abbott on local TV.

Fort Lauderdale Jack Seiler, who has had a bit of a rough year with his handling of the homeless ordinance laws and his same-sex marriage stance, will be challenged by two opponents for his seat as mayor.

Earl Rynerson, who has made it a habit of challenging Seiler for mayor and has publicly called out the mayor on his blog A Better Fort Lauderdale, has once again filed to run against Seiler.

Also challenging Seiler will be Chris Brennan, the 33-year-old former Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi worker who was fired for posting a YouTube video defending the quest to save a 100-year-old rain tree that was going to be removed to make way for the construction of a Marina Lofts condominium development.

Rynerson, a former military vet and openly gay businessman, has used his website to criticize Fort Lauderdale politicians and leaders. Most of those criticisms have been lobbed at Seiler.

Particularly, Rynerson has called out Seiler's lack of support for the same-sex initiative and uses a quote from an anonymous Fort Lauderdale official to describe Seiler.

"Unless you're straight, white, and wealthy, you're a second-class citizen in the eyes of Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler," the official supposedly said.

When Fort Lauderdale commissioners approved a gay marriage resolution, Seiler was one of the dissenting votes.

Seiler has shown support for civil unions with full benefits in the past. But same-sex advocates believe it's not enough to support just civil unions.

Meanwhile, Seiler also became the face of homeless discrimination across the world when news broke that 90-year-old homeless advocate Arnold Abbott was cited several times for feeding homeless people on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

An ordinance was passed by the city that put restrictions on groups that serve the homeless food, such as requiring them to provide hand-washing stations and port-o-potties. But the restrictions severely limited groups from feeding the homeless, and breaking the ordinance came with a citation and possible jail time.

While the intention seemed good on the outside, the overall result was an elderly World War II vet getting cited and being forced by cops to stop feeding the homeless. The story made national headlines, and Seiler was seen as a homeless-hating politician.

In November, Seiler tried to explain that the real mistake was in getting the message out on what the city was actually trying to do with the ordinance.

"We were wrong in not getting the word out sooner," he told WPLG at the time. "And in fairness to Arnold, we should have sat down with him, making sure that he was onboard. But obviously that message got lost, and I apologize."

In the face of having his city and name mocked by national comedy shows, Seiler released a statement trying to explain what the ordinance was about.

Still, Seiler came across as defensive and obtuse, and the public voiced its displeasure by showing up to protest outside his home.

While neither Rynerson nor Brennan probably has a real shot at unseating Seiler, it would appear that there has never been a time when he's been more vulnerable.

Voters will be deciding Seiler's fate on February 10.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter




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