JUPITER — Town councilman Robert M. Friedman passed away early Wednesday morning at age 71 following a battle with an undisclosed illness, the town announced.
A long-time architect, avid boater and former Florida Atlantic University administrator, Mr. Friedman first was elected to the council in 2005 after serving seven years on the Planning and Zoning Commission. He was appointed vice mayor in 2007 and re-elected to his council seat in 2008 and 2011.
During his time on the council, Mr. Friedman advocated for transportation improvements, Jupiter’s investment in biotech, the Riverwalk project and environmental preservation.
“He was a great guy,” Loxahatchee River Control District Executive Director Albrey Arrington said of Mr. Friedman, with whom he worked closely during the past seven years. “He really served the community with clarity of thought and intent. He worked really hard to improve the functioning and efficiency of the town.”
Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization Director Randy Whitfield also had a close working relationship with Mr. Friedman, who was a former chairman and long-time member.
“He tried to keep a bunch of our elected officers on track at monthly meetings,” Whitfield said of Mr. Friedman, who was a proponent of bringing a Tri-Rail stop to Jupiter. “We had a friendly relationship where I could go to him sometimes and we could talk through some problems and some issues that were coming up. I’ll miss him.”
Mr. Friedman enjoyed a long career in architecture and public service.
A graduate of the University of Illinois, he was involved with a variety of architectural organizations and committees. He also served 10 years as Vice President of Facilities and University Architect at Florida Atlantic University and five years with the South Florida Water Management District.
“He did so much,” town council member Wendy Harrison said. “The town is only part of what he accomplished.”
Mr. Friedman’s passing leaves a vacancy on the five-person town council, which also includes Mayor Karen Golonka, Vice Mayor Todd Wodraska and commissioners Harrison and Jim Kuretski.
According to the town’s charter, remaining council members by a majority vote can appoint a qualified person to fill a vacancy until the next regular election or the remainder of the unexpired term, whichever occurs first. Town elections are scheduled for next March.
Since Mr. Friedman’s term was set to expire in March 2014, whoever is appointed to fill the vacancy would serve less than a year. The seat then would be up for reelection.
If council members cannot agree on an appointment after two regular meetings, then a special election will be called to fill the vacancy.
Mr. Friedman is survived by his wife, Rene, his children Ronald and Robin, and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.