O’Connor Unopposed For Westlake Mayor, While Three Vie For Seat 2

The Westlake entrance sign.

An architect, a firefighter and a nurse have qualified for the Westlake City Council’s Seat 2 race, which will be decided in the Tuesday, March 8 municipal election.

Architect Fransisco “Frank” Costoya Jr. of Meadowlark Court, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue driver/operator Julian Martinez of Buttonbush Drive, and Pilar Elena Valle Ron, a registered nurse and Whippoorwill Circle resident, got their paperwork in ahead of the Tuesday, Nov. 9 filing deadline. Seat 2 is currently held by Councilwoman Kara Crump, who is not seeking re-election.

Meanwhile, only current Vice Mayor JohnPaul O’Connor filed for the city’s top post, mayor. He won the job unopposed and will step down from Seat 3.

Also unopposed was newcomer Greg Langowski, the only candidate to file for Seat 4, which is being vacated by Councilwoman Katrina Long-Robinson. Langowski is a longtime aide to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida).

Current Mayor Roger Manning, Crump and Long-Robinson were appointed to their current posts at or soon after Westlake’s incorporation in 2016, when residency was not a requirement, as it is now. None of the trio are Westlake residents at this time, according to City Manager Kenneth Cassell.

Seat 1 Councilman Patric Paul resigned effective Nov. 1 for family reasons. That seat is likely to be filled by appointment at the council’s Monday, Dec. 13 meeting, Cassell said.

That means that once O’Connor vacates Seat 3 in March to take the mayor’s job, that seat will need to be filled — creating an entirely new council roster.

Despite all the changes, Cassell is not concerned. “The city, the council is set up structurally to run well,” he said. “We just go forward. I think we’ve got a good group of candidates.”

Costoya, 62, and his wife Alba moved to Westlake in 2020 to be near their daughter. Born in Cuba and raised in Miami and Plantation, Costoya has served as an appointee to several local and state architectural boards, but this is his first run for elective office.

“Westlake is an up-and-coming city,” Costoya said. “It’s off to a good start… You might say it’s now rounding second base… The next four years are going to be critical to its development. I want to make sure it grows in an orderly way.”

Martinez, 33 and single, was born in Sunrise, and has been with PBCFR for six years. He said he bought in Westlake on the first day that houses were put on the market in 2018.

“Westlake is an advanced city that is always looking to the future,” Martinez said. “I just love the vision for the city and want to help carry that forward.”

Specifically, Martinez said, one of his main goals would be to “help incentivize a healthy lifestyle… and protect green space.”

Valle Ron, a native of Ecuador who grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Florida for 20 years, said she also would emphasize a healthy lifestyle if elected. “Health is the main issue,” said the married mother of three who also bought in Westlake in 2018.

A nurse at Palms West Hospital, Valle Ron said residents need education about protecting themselves from the powerful Florida sun and awareness about the plight of children left in limbo by economic and familial situations.

“Children are the future of our country,” Valle Ron said. “[But] there a lot of kids with no place to sleep.”

In other Westlake news:

• Due to equipment issues following a Nov. 8 power outage, the council’s monthly meeting was postponed to Monday, Nov. 22 at 6:30 p.m. One of the major items on the agenda is expected to be a council discussion about how to fill Seat 1, recently vacated by Paul.

• Winn-Dixie officials overseeing the renovation of the supermarket in the Grove Market Shopping Center have pushed the store’s reopening back to around Christmas, Cassell said, and it is likely that timeline will be extended into January.

• Cassell noted that builders were set to break ground on Monday, Nov. 15 for the new Christ Fellowship Church location just off Seminole Pratt Whitney Road near Sycamore Drive. In December 2019, the council approved a 38,155-square-foot worship center on 12.777 acres. The sanctuary will have 800 seats.

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