Remarkable People 2023: Alan Clendenin, Tampa City Council, District 1

Alan Clendenin was elected this year as the first openly LGBTQ member of Tampa City Council.

I first met Alan during his 2019 race for Tampa City Council. As a junior staffer at Equality Florida at the time, I was interested in hearing about his experience running for office and traversing the complexities of Democratic politics. That began a close friendship that has spanned multiple years, several campaign cycles and many vodka sodas.

Born in Sanford, Florida, Alan’s journey has been shaped by his experiences as a small business owner, a retired air traffic control professional with 32 years of expertise, and a dedicated advocate for Tampa Bay and for LGBTQ+ rights.

Growing up in Central Florida, Alan attended Florida public schools, where he navigated the challenges of being an LGBTQ+ youth in the 1970s and 80s. Alan’s commitment to advocacy was evident early on as a member of the Triangle Caucus, the first Democratic LGBTQ+ club in Tampa. This marked the beginning of his long-standing dedication to advancing LGBTQ+ rights, a cause deeply rooted in his personal and political identity.

In 1994, Alan successfully helped lobby the Air Traffic Controllers Union to include benefits for same-sex couples. He also made history in 2008, being elected as the first openly gay Democratic National Committee member from Florida, and eventually as vice-chair of the party. He now holds the titles of Senior Member of the Florida DNC, member of the DNC Executive Committee and Southern Regional Chair, representing a quarter of the entire United States.

Despite his senior roles within the Democratic Party, Alan’s commitment to community-level change has been unwavering as well. He has actively participated as a surrogate for down ballot local campaigns for the better part of four decades.

Alan’s decision to transition from behind-the-scenes activism to public office was rooted in a belief that it was time to effect change directly. This year after decades as a prominent figure in Florida’s political landscape, he was elected to Tampa City Council.

Alan emphasizes the importance of working within the system to advance LGBTQ+ rights and ensure that our community is protected. In his short time on council, he has also championed the extension of the Tampa streetcar, affordable housing and economic opportunity for our region. His political journey is a testament to the transformative power of advocacy, bridging personal experiences with a commitment to shaping a more inclusive and equitable community.

Also remarkable: Alan and his partner, John, will celebrate 40-years together in May alongside his two children and granddaughter, Zelda.

Alan’s life and career has been dedicated to making a positive impact, both within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. That’s why this year, I am proud to help recognize him as one of Watermark’s Most Remarkable People.

Want to see who else made the list? Click here to find out.

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