DELRAY BEACH – Adam Frankel has a couple of windows on the world. And it’s his world. Delray Beach, the city he loves.
Frankel lives in the community’s vibrant and visibly popular downtown, where he can be found about 8 a.m. any day of the week sipping a hot beverage at Spot Coffee. City Oyster is often his lunch choice. “I eat about 10 or 15 times a week in downtown Delray,” he said.
By trade, Frankel is an attorney who spent three of his formative years toiling as a public defender in Palm Beach County. He and law partner Lee Cohen recently set down roots in offices at 19 Swinton Ave., a lovely old Delray home with big trees, a front porch and white picket fence all around.
But Frankel is not just another face in the crowd. He’s a Delray city commissioner – a post he’s held since March 2009. And at least two major publications have dubbed the 40-year-old lawyer a mover and shaker in South Florida.
Frankel was named a “Top 40 Professional under 40” by Atlantic Ave Magazine in May 2010, and one of the “8 Delray Up and Comers” by Delray Beach Magazine in March 2011.
“Those are very nice honors,” he said, sitting at the conference room of his law office. He said he feels he’s part of a “youth movement” in Delray.
“When I first came here, a lot of officials were coming up on retirement age,” Frankel said. Since winning office, he has seen “a lot of people in their 20s and 30s joining city boards and getting involved in charities.”
“If you go out on Atlantic Avenue in the morning or evening, you’ll see young people with their families. There is a big community of young people, especially in the downtown.”
Frankel was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, but considers Delray Beach his home. Actually, he discovered the community at age 10, when be began frequent trips to visit his grandparents, who lived locally.
“They used to take me to the beach,” he said. “They’d drive along Atlantic Avenue when there was practically nothing there. They’d drop me off at the beach, where there was Boston’s, Phoenix and a Holiday Inn, which is now a Marriott.”
He graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor of arts in political science, then immediately moved up the educational ladder, attending the University of Toledo College of Law and earning a law degree.
Not long after graduating from law school, Frankel moved to Delray Beach and was admitted to the Florida Bar Association. He got his legal feet wet in the Public Defenders Office and, in 2011, founded the personal injury firm of Frankel & Cohen with his partner.
Frankel – who is not related to Lois Frankel, the former West Palm Beach mayor and candidate for the Congressional 22nd District seat – dabbled in politics for some years before making the jump to elective office. He attributes his entry into the political arena to his early association with Delray’s flamboyant political font of knowledge, Andre Fladell.
“He’s one of my best friends,” said Frankel, who learned the game of volleyball from the political master nearly 30 years ago. Atlantic Ave Magazine has labeled Frankel “the second best Jewish volleyball player in town.” Fladell, of course, is No. 1.
Frankel describes himself as “easy to contact and easy to find.” He lives just a few blocks from his office – and can often be found downtown for business or socializing. Publications say the unmarried commissioner is one of the area’s most eligible bachelors.
Marriage is not on Frankel’s mind – at least not for the moment. Neither is seeking higher political office. “I’ve never even been to Tallahassee,” he said.
Frankel is hip-deep in getting his law firm off the ground, and takes seriously the responsibility of being a city commissioner. Realizing he “can’t be everywhere,” Frankel depends on his iPhone to stay in touch.
He sees a lot of good things in Delray Beach, and a lot that needs to be done. The City Commission is currently wrangling with a $3 million-plus budget deficit, and beachfront residents are up in arms about a proposal to put a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in a vacant mansion in their neighborhood.
At the end of the day, though, Frankel says, “I really like local things. And I really enjoy Delray.”
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