- The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board
You would think, with all of the hyperbole — tinged with a certain level of animus — during this election campaign, that Royal Palm Beach has some serious “issues” dividing the village. But it doesn’t. At least not when compared to many municipalities in the county.
Royal Palm Beach is sitting on a roughly $80 million reserve, operating debt-free and expanding its tax base with smart development like the Tuttle mixed-use project near State Road 7 and Southern Boulevard. While the village did have a specific issue with vehicle break-ins, even that now seems well in hand.
MAYOR: But the rematch between incumbent Mayor Fred Pinto, 67, and former Village Councilwoman Martha Webster, 71, is just as fiery as it was two years ago.
The animosity between these two candidates is indicative of lasting divisions — and wounds — once inflicted by a “good old boy” network that seemed to shut down any real dissent.
Pinto, whose leadership style can certainly come across as abrasive, still has work to do in healing those divisions. But the same can be said of those backing Webster’s campaign — after three consecutive losses.
While her credentials are still impeccable, she readily admits that the primary reason she is running is to “return integrity” to the mayor’s office after a domestic incident in which Pinto was arrested and spent a night in jail with no charges filed. Though embarrassing and disturbing, Pinto has apologized for the incident, and he and his wife from all outward appearances have reconciled their differences.
“I’d really like to keep personal politics out of our village administration,” Pinto said.
Because we’ve seen no evidence that the incident is indicative of a deeper leadership flaw, the Post is endorsing Pinto in the March 13 election. He has provided solid fiscal leadership, while prioritizing infrastructure improvements and public safety and emphasizing more community involvement.
GROUP 3: And leading the way on community involvement is Councilwoman Selena Smith, 45, whom The Post is endorsing to keep her seat on the dais.
Smith, in addition to providing a strong independent voice, has established herself as a leader on senior living issues and transparency on the council. She also worked to re-vamp the village’s sign ordinance, which benefited local businesses, and initiated meetings with code enforcement and residents.
In addition to keeping the community updated via social media like Facebook, Smith said she walks the community to talk with residents face-to-face.
Her opponent is Sam Roman, 48, a local business entrepreneur and community outreach coordinator with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Read all of the Post’s endorsements online at www.MyPalmBeachPost.com/2018-endorsements.