On Tuesday, March 12, voters in Royal Palm Beach and Loxahatchee Groves will head to the polls for municipal elections. There are two seats up for election in Royal Palm Beach and one in Loxahatchee Groves. In this week’s issue, we profile all six candidates running in this election cycle. The profiles are based on their individual visits with the Town-Crier’s editorial board. Here, we also issue our endorsements in the races.
Royal Palm Beach Village Council, Seat 2 — Two veteran council members are battling for this seat, where incumbent Councilwoman Martha Webster faces a challenge from former Councilman David Swift.
Ms. Webster has been a dedicated council member who cares deeply about the community. She brings an often alternative point of view to the council. She has also done a good job reaching out beyond the borders of Royal Palm Beach and helping residents gain access to more regional opportunities. She has been a strong leader in the fight to extend State Road 7 to Northlake Blvd. and her leadership on several regional agencies would certainly be useful to Royal Palm Beach.
Mr. Swift has served the village on and off for more than two decades. He played a large role in shaping Royal Palm Beach into the community it is today. An advocate for residents, Mr. Swift has stood behind his constituents on issues from the La Mancha berm to the future of the old wastewater treatment plant property. We also applaud his ability to find compromise with his fellow council members. Royal Palm Beach’s success is largely due to past council’s ability to find common ground, and Mr. Swift has been a crucial element of that success.
In reality, there are good arguments for the election of either Ms. Webster or Mr. Swift. They each offer useful, but divergent qualities. In the end, though, it is unity of purpose that has long made the Royal Palm Beach Village Council successful while other local governments have faltered. In our opinion, that tips the scale slightly in the favor of Mr. Swift. The Town-Crier endorses David Swift for Seat 2 on the Royal Palm Beach Village Council.
Royal Palm Beach Village Council, Seat 4 — In this race, longtime incumbent Fred Pinto is being challenged by Justin Sallenbach, a teacher at Turning Points Academy.
Mr. Sallenbach brings new and interesting ideas to the table, most notably his desire to provide after school care and tutoring programs for village students. At 29, he is clearly passionate about his community, and we are glad to see younger residents stepping up to the plate. His desire to encourage more community participation is a noble one. We believe there could be a council seat in Mr. Sallenbach’s future should he seek office again, but feel that he should gain more experience in local government first — perhaps through one of the village’s volunteer boards. No matter what he does, we believe he will be successful, and we would encourage him to stay involved.
Mr. Pinto has been a strong voice for residents for many years and was instrumental in setting Royal Palm Beach up to weather the recent economic crisis. He had a hand in selling the village’s water utility to the county, providing Royal Palm Beach the nest egg it has used to weather hard times. He has also kept a keen eye on that nest egg, making sure the village doesn’t tap into it indiscriminately. He was also an early supporter of the contracting with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, which has made the village safer, and most recently, helped bring Aldi to the village. Pinto has contributed a great deal, and we feel he still has more to offer. As the village continues to grow, it is beneficial to have experienced council members who understand the community’s past, and who can help guide it into the future.
The Town-Crier strongly endorses the re-election of Fred Pinto to Seat 4 on the Royal Palm Beach Village Council.
Whether or not you agree with our opinions shared in this space, more important is that you make your way to the polls this Tuesday. Local elections tend to be low-turnout affairs, but they shouldn’t be. Show up and make your vote count!