RPB’s Pinto Looks Ahead After Winning Re-Election

Councilman Richard Valuntas, Brian Tuttle, Donielle and Mayor Fred Pinto, and Carolyn and Councilman Jeff Hmara celebrate Tuesday night at the MarBar Grill after the returns came in. Photo by Denise Fleischman

Incumbent Royal Palm Beach Mayor Fred Pinto easily overcame a challenge from resident Steve Avila to secure a fifth two-year term with the gavel on Tuesday, March 19.

According to unofficial results from the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office, Pinto garnered 2,215 votes (60.12 percent) to Avila’s 1,469 votes (39.88 percent).

Pinto first joined the Royal Palm Beach Village Council in 2003 and was elected mayor in 2016. After spending the day at the polls, he gathered with supporters at the MarBar Grill at Madison Green that evening. He spoke to the Town-Crier the next day about his election win and his goals for the future.

“Every campaign, you always find new supporters, which is an interesting phenomenon, but there are many citizens who over the course of my years as mayor and as a council member have been there,” Pinto said. “It was nice seeing folks again that maybe I hadn’t heard from or talked to in a while, and getting the reassurances from folks that they would support me because they like the way the village has been run, and that the village is a tremendous place for them to live. I would have to agree with them. It is a tremendous place.”

Pinto said he stands ready to move forward with projects that the village has already begun. This includes Phase 2 of the new Royal Palm Beach Village Hall campus, which includes repurposing the old Village Meeting Hall building.

“That’s going to become a place where people can rent to have parties or celebrations,” he explained. “When we get all that completed, we’ll have another ribbon cutting. I think people will be happy. The other thing we are pushing forward with is our plans for the significant expansion of the recreation center.”

Pinto hopes to get that project under contract and underway soon.

Pinto remains proud of decisions made years ago that continue to serve village residents, such as partnering with Palm Beach County on water utilities and police services. That allowed for the low tax rate that Royal Palm Beach residents enjoy today.

“That helped in getting our millage rate down to 1.92 and holding there, which is the lowest rate in the county, notwithstanding a few cities of 2,000 people or less. That’s because we took these initiatives. We went to decisions about creating a vision of what we think Royal Palm Beach should be like in the next 15 to 20 years,” he said, adding that the village looks to that vision whenever key decisions must be made.

Pinto is also hopeful of the work being done with the Transportation Planning Agency to change residents’ mindset on public transportation.

Meanwhile, he will continue to assess his own future when determining his plans.

“Every year since I’ve been in office, I always assess halfway through that term what I want to do. Do I want to continue to run for another term or decide to hang it up? I’m going to make that assessment about a year from now, midway through this term, to determine where we are and what’s left to be accomplished,” Pinto said.

When Pinto joined the council in 2003, he ran for an open seat. A similar situation happened when he ran for mayor — his predecessor was stepping down. To have an opponent come out of nowhere seeking the top spot was unique, but he doesn’t want to discourage residents from taking an interest in local government.

“If you are really interested in doing this, I will sit down with you. Get to know the members on the council, and if you’ve got questions, you can always give feedback on how we do things in the village,” he said. “Perhaps work on a standing committee for the village. A seat will open, and when there is an open seat, run for the open seat. That’s what I did.”

Pinto was adamant that his time serving as a council member was crucial in his ability to serve successfully as mayor.

“I am thrilled to have the honor of still representing the residents as their mayor,” he said. “We are committed to continue maintaining the level of excellence that they’re accustomed to, and the level of excellence that we’ve achieved. We are going to maintain that and continue to work on improving as we move forward.”