Yesterday Ken Keechl was sworn in as the mayor of Florida’s Broward County, the first openly gay county mayor of the seaside gay tourism mecca. Keechl was elected by fellow county commisssioners. Handling the county’s roiling corruption scandals will be Keechl’s first order of business.
Ken Keechl took over as Broward mayor Tuesday amid a wide-ranging government corruption investigation that has ensnared one county commissioner. The seat held by Josephus Eggelletion before his arrest almost two months ago remained empty as commissioners chose Keechl to succeed Stacy Ritter in the largely ceremonial post. Keechl vowed to work closely with a task force to draft a new code of ethics for the county government. While the investigation by federal and state prosecutors will loom large over the commission during the next year, Keechl’s ascension to mayor was a milestone for the area’s large gay community. Keechl is the first openly gay person to hold the county’s top position, placing Broward among a small number of communities in the nation with gay or lesbian mayors. “I ran for the commission not as a gay man but as a fiscal conservative and as someone concerned about the environment, but I am aware of the historic nature of becoming mayor and am proud of it,” Keechl said. Leaders of the gay community as well as Keechl’s partner, Ted Adcock, joined local elected officials to watch the commission unanimously name him mayor. Keechl, 47, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, was elected to the commission three years ago.
With a population of about 2 million, Broward County is the second-most populous in the state. Only the eastern third of the county, which includes Fort Lauderdale, is inhabited. The rest is part of Everglades National Park.