A handsome man with a slim figure and kind face, Dean Trantalis in many ways represents the new Fort Lauderdale. In a city where the mayor is openly homophobic, Trantalis in March 2003 defeated the wife of County Commissioner John Rodstrom (also homophobic) to win a seat on the City Commission. He became Fort Lauderdale's first openly gay commissioner. He won, thanks in part to his career of fighting for gay rights. In 1990, Trantalis successfully lobbied the Broward County Commission to pass a human-rights ordinance protecting gays from discrimination. Seven years later, he coordinated an unsuccessful effort to stall the passage of a Florida law banning same-sex marriages. Yet Trantalis stands up for more than gay rights. A successful attorney who has studied in England, Eastern Europe, and Russia, the commissioner has proven in his first year on the job to be a thoughtful, deliberative man unwilling to make rash decisions. He refuses to sacrifice natural beauty to fatten developers' wallets, frequently voicing his belief that Fort Lauderdale Beach, in particular, should be protected from overdevelopment. And when every elected official in Fort Lauderdale seemed to want to blame former City Manager Floyd Johnson for the fiscal crisis, Trantalis kept his blade sheathed, loathe to strike the wounded scapegoat. But maybe that also speaks to Trantalis' greatest political fault: He's too kind. In the rough-and-tumble world of politics, nice guys don't last. But we hope Trantalis does. Readers' Choice: US Rep. Clay Shaw

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