From the start of the campaign for Fort Lauderdale mayor, Jack Seiler had a residency problem. He lived in Wilton Manors. But in the context of campaign obstacles, this was a fairly easy, if expensive, fix. He put his Wilton Manors home(s) up for sale, and rented a place in Fort Lauderdale, spending nights there just in case anyone disputed it was his primary residence. If an opponent -- or a gotcha journalist, damn them -- was going to unravel his campaign, it would have to be something else.
So when things got hot in the campaign's final weeks, it was a relief when Earl Rynerson's campaign reached for its ammo and deployed...the residency card.
"I was delighted when they played it," says Seiler, "because not only didn't it work, but it affected the credibility of the candidate who played it. People said, 'He just moved here from Fort Lauderdale and he's questioning your ties to Fort Lauderdale?'"
Seiler grew up in Fort Lauderdale, represented the city in the state legislature, and his Wilton Manors home was right next to the border of Fort Lauderdale. "It never got any traction," says Seiler of the residency issue. He had 16 sign requests the same day the flier dropped, energizing his campaign. The momentum carred him through the election where he captured 57 percent of the vote in the four-way race.
More from the mayor-elect after the jump.
City Manager George Gretsas is a polarizing figure at city hall whose future is clouded by three commission races that will go to a runoff, March 10. Seiler said during the campaign that he would not give endorsements in the runoffs. As for Gretsas? "He'll be given a fair shake," says Seiler, who has been speaking with Gretsas daily since the election Tuesday. "If he gets on board with the new vision of the commission, then he'll be fine."
Seiler will be sworn in March 17, "Then I'll start buckling down on the city budget, address the crime and the economy."