Broward County Commissioner District 4 Ken Keechl was chosen by his fellow commissioners as the first openly gay mayor of Broward County. The job of mayor is chosen by the commissioners on a rotating basis every first Tuesday of November and serves for one year. Keechl is the first openly gay person to serve on the Broward County Commission. He has served in office since November 2006 and is up for re-election next year.
“Whether you know it or not, your vote to make me Broward's mayor was historic in America -- but that's a discussion for another day, in another venue,” Keechl said at his swearing in ceremony at the Broward County Governmental Center in Fort Lauderdale.
GLBT advocates in attendance at the swearing in ceremony expressed joy over Keechl’s appointment by his peers.
“We've waited so long for this day to come,” said Michael Albetta, president of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus. “We're honored and pleased that the eight other county commissioners see his professionalism and are not judging him on his personal lifestyle.”
As county mayor, Keechl chairs the meetings of the county commission, is the official representative of the county plus has other ceremonial duties.
According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, there are 28 openly gay mayors in the United States however Keechl serves the area with the largest population. Broward County’s 1.8 million population also makes it the second most populated county in Florida. Keechl will continue to represent District 4, which is mostly northeastern Broward County including Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors and Oakland Park and has about 200,000 residents.
Though openly gay, Keechl has never considered himself a gay candidate.
“I don't view myself as a gay county commissioner, just as I don't view myself as a gay Democrat. I view myself as a county commissioner who happens to be gay and a Democrat who happens to be gay," Keechl told the Gay Democratic Caucus in West Palm Beach in March 2007.
One of Keechl’s first duties as mayor was to greet Sir Richard Branson at a ceremony at Fort Lauderdale International Airport in November as the two welcomed the first non-stop flight from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale for Branson’s Virgin America Airlines. The two-year-old airline had just expanded service to Fort Lauderdale.