Longtime Councilman Fred Pinto plans to run for higher office next year, saying he’s ready to “step up now and continue to provide leadership” to Royal Palm Beach.
Pinto wants to succeed Mayor Matty Mattioli in the March 2016 election. Mattioli, 88, has said this two-year term would be his last after more than 20 years on council, including the past five as the village’s figurehead.
Pinto himself has been on the council for more than 12 years and last won re-election in March when he ran unopposed.
“I have had an opportunity to make some significant contributions in the major decisions we’ve made,” Pinto said, referencing the development of Commons Park as an example. “I’ve been happy to be part of the leadership that’s keeping us in the right direction all these years.”
No other candidates have declared for the mayoral race, but it’s possible Pinto could face a challenge from another village official.
Councilman Jeff Hmara said he’s “seriously considering” the race but doesn’t plan to make a decision anytime soon.
“In the interim, it gives me an opportunity to learn more about how Fred sees himself as mayor in Royal Palm Beach,” Hmara said. “That will help me in seeing if I bring something different to the voters that could move us forward.”
Both Pinto and Hmara agree they want Royal Palm Beach to be a community where families can raise their children, and they said their work to reach that goal has paved off — the proof being a recent designation from Nerd Wallet naming the village the 10th best place in Florida for young families to live.
“That speaks volumes about what we’ve been about and the type of leadership we try to provide for this village,” Pinto said. “My priorities will be to make sure we continue to make intelligent decisions and that we continue to listen to the voice of the people.”
Pinto, a 64-year-old native of New York’s Harlem neighborhood, was first elected to the council in 2003.
He has to vacate Seat 4 in order to run for mayor because of Florida’s “resign-to-run” rule. Pinto said he plans to resign sometime closer to the qualifying period for next year’s election, which is in late November and early December.
Qualifying dates for the March election were moved up two months because the regular election will coincide with the Florida presidential primary on March 15.
Pinto said the council will have to decide whether to appoint his successor or keep the seat open until the next municipal election in 2017.