Jim did a great job in Wilton Manors. I would have liked to see him continue in politics, and even run for governor or enter national politics.
Wilton Manors Mayor Jim Stork, who for the past two years has helped lead the city’s push toward redevelopment, announced he won’t be seeking a second term in next year’s election.
Stork’s decision stunned political and community leaders who thought his term as mayor was the beginning of what would be a high-profile political career.
But Stork said he’s not seeking re-election because he’s already made good on his campaign promises: luring developers to the city, rallying community support, and being a team player on a once-acrimonious dais.
Now that three new community groups have formed, Wilton Manors is nearly built out, and the bickering among council members has lulled, he plans to walk away from politics — at least for now.
“This city needed to be nudged in the right direction, and now we’re getting there,” he said on Friday. “I think if I’m ever going to run for something again, politics will find me. I’ll continue to serve my city in other ways. It’s kind of sad, because I do love being mayor.”
County Commissioner Lori Parrish said Stork will be missed on the political scene.
“He’s a walking PR machine for Wilton Manors,” she said. “He loves [the city], and it shows. I guess we can all be thankful that he at least served one term, but we’ll miss him. I also understand that politics takes so much of your life, it can become very difficult with all the demands of your time.”
Stork, who owns a coffee shop called Stork’s Cafe and Bakery, said he’s getting ready for the January opening of his new 2,000-square-foot restaurant on Las Olas Boulevard. He added that he plans to stay involved in the city’s community groups.
Norm Kent, former publisher of the Express Gay News, said he doubts this is the end of Stork’s political career.
“[Stork’s] political star will continue to rise,” he said. “He’s the kind of leader that lends credibility, stature and dignity to the gay community. I expect him to continue with a variety of goals.”
Stork says if Vice Mayor Scott Newton agrees to run for his seat, he’ll throw his political weight behind him.
Newton said he’s “strongly considering” declaring his mayoral candidacy.
“If I do run for mayor, I plan to keep things going in the same direction,” said Newton, a 44-year resident.