Jeff Hmara Elected To Sixth Term On Royal Palm Beach Council

Newly re-elected Councilman Jeff Hmara (center) is surrounded by supporters Tuesday night at the Madison Green Country Club. Photo by Denise Fleischman/Town-Crier

Royal Palm Beach Councilman Jeff Hmara claimed his sixth two-year term on Tuesday, March 8.

The race for the Group 1 seat on the Royal Palm Beach Village Council was the only seat on the municipal election ballot. A total of 2,746 voters cast ballots, according to unofficial results released by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Hmara took 1,603 votes (58.38 percent) to 1,143 votes (41.62 percent) for challenger Julie Highsmith, a former member of the village’s Education Advisory Board who currently works as a teacher at H.L. Johnson Elementary School.

Hmara celebrated with his supporters at the Madison Green Country Club after the polls closed.

“I can’t be more grateful for all of the support and help that I got for this campaign,” Hmara said after the results were announced. “To be looking forward to another couple of years is just spectacular. We’re at a point right now where there are a lot of great opportunities, but there are also a lot of great challenges that are affecting us here in this community.”

He said one of the reasons he wanted to continue his service was that he has learned a lot about the village and made many strong connections he can use to help the community. “I think they are going to pay off as we go into the next term,” Hmara said. “I really look forward to doing more of what we’ve done over the past 10 years and taking this community to an even greater place than it is right now.”

He said one of the pressing issues now is the development going on outside the village and the traffic it brings into the village.

“It’s going to continue to bring more and more traffic to us,” he said. “Traffic and traffic congestion is going to be a huge issue to us, and it’s going to get bigger and bigger as the area around us grows.”

Even if the village did not have any more development within it, the traffic would continue to increase, Hmara said.

“The best way to deal with it is to stay engaged and involved in organizations like the Transportation Planning Agency and our neighboring communities, and we’ve got a really great opportunity coming up right now,” he said, referring to three studies underway that will help the village understand what the future possibilities are.

One study being conducted by Royal Palm Beach is of the State Road 7 commercial corridor and another is Wellington’s study of the area surrounding the Mall at Wellington Green.

“They will help us deal with not only the traffic situation, but also the need to redevelop some of the older commercial area that we have,” Hmara said. “It’s a golden opportunity to take advantage of those studies and come up with what seems to fit best into who we are here, as a family-oriented, American hometown. At the same time, we want to tap into the Transportation Planning [Agency] study on the Okeechobee Blvd. corridor. Those studies will be coming up this year.”

Hmara said he is glad to be able to continue as a council member to be able to make use of those studies as a decision maker.

“I’ve been learning, I’ve been growing, I’ve been making the connections, I’m involved,” he said. “So, I look forward to leveraging those relationships.”

Hmara was first elected to the council in March 2012 and said he is proud of his accomplishments with the village, serving as part of a council that works well together.

He is known on the council for his work supporting local schools, largely through his longtime role as liaison to the Education Advisory Board.

He feels the Education Advisory Board played a substantial role in improving the relationship between the village and Royal Palm Beach High School, which 10 years ago had a fairly poor reputation, but now is considered a success story.

One of the most rewarding activities he has participated in has been the Feeding South Florida project at Royal Palm Beach Commons Park, which started out as staff-driven but evolved into a largely volunteer activity.

Hmara and his wife Carolyn have two adult children and four grandchildren. He is a retired colonel with the U.S. Army, serving from 1966 to 1992. Hmara then held several high-level positions with different federal government agencies before retiring to Royal Palm Beach. The Hmaras moved to Madison Green in 2003. He has been an adjunct professor of management and leadership at Palm Beach Atlantic University and has taught locally since 2007.

Prior to being elected to the council, Hmara was involved in community affairs through his participation on the 2010 Crestwood Redevelopment Task Force. He has also served in official positions on several Madison Green Homeowners’ Association boards and is currently serving as a member of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee.