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incoming Mayor Danielle Moore

Our Town: Incoming Mayor Danielle Moore to bring deep roots, spirit of service to the post

Town Councilwoman and mayor-elect Danielle Moore hails from a family steeped in a tradition of public service and philanthropy.

Moore’s grandmother, the late Mary Alice Fortin, was a Palm Beach philanthropist whose generosity has touched many lives within the town and nationwide.

Moore’s stepfather, the late Earl E.T. Smith, was an ambassador to Cuba who became Palm Beach’s mayor from 1971 to 1977.

Her mother, Lesly Smith, was a Town Council president before serving as mayor 2000-05.

At the April 13 council meeting, Moore, 57, will be sworn as the town’s 17th mayor, succeeding Gail Coniglio, who is stepping down after 10 years at the post.

At the Jan. 12 Town Caucus, Moore was nominated without opposition to a two-year term as mayor after serving six years on the council, part of that time as its president.

Moore said her mother and Coniglio are both important role models for her.

“One of mommy’s great qualities is she is such a lady,” Moore said. “Mommy never loses her cool. She’s a diplomat. That is where I ask her advice the most. It’s not about policy, but about maintaining relationships with people.”

Smith and Coniglio worked to forge strong ties with neighboring municipalities and the Palm Beach County, state and federal governments.

Moore said Coniglio’s achievements were especially impressive in the realm of coastal protection, where she helped secure tens of millions of dollars in financial aid and fostered a sense of partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“Gail has done an incredible job of reaching out to whomever she needs to, to help our town be a better place,” Moore said. “That spirit of cooperation is obviously one that I would like to continue.”

Born in New York City, Moore is a lifelong town resident and the mother of two young daughters.

She is a Realtor-Associate at Brown Harris Stevens in Palm Beach.

Moore graduated from Rosarian Academy in 1981 and from Duke University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in American history.

In her youth, she originally wanted to work in the United States Foreign Service but returned to Palm Beach after college to care for her stepfather and grandmother. The late Phil Whitacre, who was president and CEO of the Town of Palm Beach United Way, invited Moore to volunteer for its allocation committee.

“Everything sort of dovetailed [from] that,” Moore said. “All of a sudden my life was focused on giving and being involved in our community.”

Over the years, Moore has cultivated an extensive resume of public service and community involvement and leadership.

She has been president of the Mary Alice Fortin Foundation since 1993 and president of Fortin Enterprises since 1986.

She is board chairwoman for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and an executive committee member for the Town of Palm Beach United Way.

Then there are her board memberships at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, the Barker Welfare Foundation and at Rosarian Academy.

Moore also is a former executive committee member for the Garden Club of Palm Beach.

Her town board service began in the 1990s on the now-defunct Golf Committee. She is a former member and chairwoman of the town’s Recreation Advisory Committee and former member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Moore joined the council after unseating incumbent William Diamond in the 2015 town election and was unopposed in re-election bids in 2017 and 2019.

Resident Carla Cove was among her nominators at the caucuses. Cove met Moore at Moore’s first campaign event in the South End in 2014. She said she was struck by how friendly and inclusive Moore is toward everyone, and by her intimate understanding of the town.

“She was raised here,” Cove said. “She grew up here. She went to school here. Dani has such deep roots and knowledge of anything that is Palm Beach. You can [go] past a building and she’ll know what was there before.”

Asked about the council’s accomplishments during the last six years, Moore said she is especially proud of the decision to revamp employee pay and benefits after a compensation study showed Palm Beach lagging behind competing employers in Southeast Florida.

Moore also pointed to the town budget, which she said has kept the town on solid footing while reducing an unfunded liability in the employee pension fund.

Construction began in May on a new Town Marina that is expected to boost revenue from slip rentals. It’s scheduled to open in November – on time and within budget, Moore pointed out.

“I think things are going really well,” she said.

Other important challenges and opportunities await the town in the coming years, Moore said.

A flood defense plan from consultant Woods Hole Group of Massachusetts is due later this year. The report is expected to help the town better prepare for the threat of flooding from future storms and rising sea levels.

Another major initiative: Finding the best possible water source to serve Palm Beach after its agreement with the current supplier, the City of West Palm Beach, expires in 2029. Town officials are already exploring the options.

Moore expressed confidence in the town staff and said she will continue to carefully weigh their advice. “I think the troops we have are great.”

If there’s a bottom line to running the town, she said, it’s this: “The safety and security of our residents is number one on everybody’s list.”

Former council president Michael Pucillo predicted that Moore will be a strong mayor. One of her most important duties will be to work with the county, state and federal governments and seek all the financial aid possible for coastal renourishments, he said.

“She will represent the town’s interests well,” Pucillo said. “She’s been on the council for six years and knows the ropes, and her mother’s experience is something she is aware of.”