Political Newcomer Seeks Seat on Fort Lauderdale Commission

Norby Belz. Photo via Facebook.

Fort Lauderdale is a big-small town, and Norby Belz wants to keep it that way.

“It has this big-small town feel and that’s what we fell in love with when we moved here,” said Belz, who lives with his husband Ken in the Galt Mile neighborhood. “It has the diversity that we love — arts, culture, and the waterways are spectacular.”

Six years into his South Florida experience, Belz is entering the political arena to run for city commission. This is the 46-year-old’s first political campaign, but the desire was always there. 

“I really should and could be doing more,” Belz said. “Some of the things that have happened in our community compelled me to step up and run.” 

Belz is a leadership coach with a doctoral degree in philosophy. Prior to moving to Florida, he was Department Chair and Director of Health Information Management at his alma mater, the University of Kansas Medical Center. 

Belz has been married for 12 years and the couple are raising his niece. 

“I became a politician and parent in the same month,” Belz said. “Having a family gives you a whole different perspective on education and community resources for kids. You look at things a whole lot differently. Parenting makes politics look like a walk in the park.” 

Belz is challenging incumbent commissioner John Herbst in District 1, which covers the coastal areas and northernmost reaches of the city. 

“I’m not running against John, I’m running for what I believe in and why I love Fort Lauderdale so much,” he said. 

Belz loves water. He has served on the parks and recreation board and closely followed the debate over whether to build a tunnel or bridge across downtown’s New River.

“Everyone wants a tunnel that I’ve talked to — Everyone,” he said. “Our marine industry is what supports Fort Lauderdale. I’m really big in the blue economy, meaning leveraging our waterways and oceanways for new businesses. It’s an important topic for our marine industry.” 

Other topics that involve personalities, Belz would rather steer clear of. Herbst won the District 1 seat after a bitter legal battle with Mayor Dean Trantalis that saw him get fired from his longtime position as city auditor. 

Herbst has also tangled with District 2 Commissioner Steve Glassman, a close ally of the mayor. 

“I stay out of their drama,” Belz said. “People ask me about this and say, ‘John did this and Steve did that, Dean did this, and he was fired.’ … I’m staying out of all that. I have to stay focused on why I’m running, and that’s to be the voice for our local businesses and local residents.”

Thus far, only Belz and Herbst have declared for the District 1 seat, which will be decided in November’s general election.


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Corrections: editorial@outsfl.com

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