Palms West Hospital Nurse Appointed To Westlake City Council

Pilar Elena Valle Ron

Pilar Elena Valle Ron, a nurse at Palms West Hospital, was selected last week to fill Westlake City Council Seat 1, left vacant by the recent resignation of former Councilman Patric Paul.

Valle Ron was chosen on a 4-0 vote during the Monday, Dec. 6 meeting of the Westlake City Council from a pool of three candidates who already had qualified for the Seat 2 race to be decided at the March 8 municipal election. That seat currently is held by Kara Crump, who is not seeking re-election.

“It feels amazing,” said Valle Ron, who officially will take office at the Monday, Jan. 10 council meeting. “I’m very honored… I put this in God’s hands, believing that if it was meant be, it would be.”

With both Crump and Seat 4 Councilwoman Katrina Long-Robinson vacating their positions in March, Vice Mayor JohnPaul O’Connor said he believed it was important to ensure that at least one council seat is held by a woman.

“I feel very strongly that the council should be representative of the entire community,” O’Connor said. “We have a very diverse community here. Having an entirely male council is not very diverse.”

The other Seat 2 candidates who made presentations to the council are architect Fransisco “Frank” Costoya Jr., 62, of Meadowlark Court and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue driver/operator Julian Martinez, 33, of Buttonbush Drive. Both have said they will continue to seek the Seat 2 post, which will be decided in March.

Mayor Roger Manning is also stepping down from his post in March. He will be replaced by O’Connor, who was unopposed in the mayor’s race when filing ended last month.

That will leave O’Connor’s Seat 3 to be filled. How that will be accomplished will be decided by the new council after the election, which will include Greg Langowski, the only candidate to file for Seat 4.

“This was like a chess game,” O’Connor said. “We had to look at the entire landscape. With two women on the way out, we had a unique opportunity to appoint a woman and lock in some diversity on the council… We don’t know what will happen with my [current] seat.”

During the meeting, Crump said it was difficult to choose between the candidates.

“I’m so torn,” she said. “[But] I think diversity is so important to keep on the council.”

In the end, O’Connor made the motion to appoint Valle Ron, and Crump seconded the motion. Both, however, said that it was not merely the candidate’s gender that caused them to support her.

“I was impressed by her platform,” said O’Connor, noting that it focused on healthcare issues and maintaining a healthy outdoor environment for children. “Plus, we have a huge population of law enforcement officers, firefighters, nurses and educators in Westlake. I think it will be a real asset to have someone from one of those fields on the council.”

Valle Ron is a native of Ecuador, where her father served in the national government, which is how she developed an interest in politics. She grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Florida for 20 years. Now a married mother of three, the Whippoorwill Circle resident got her nursing degree in 2013 and is currently employed in the intensive care unit at Palms West Hospital.

Though Valle Ron does not take office until January, she is already working on developing a web site to allow better communication between herself and her constituents. She said she is aware of the demands that the council seat will put on her.

“I don’t see it as a challenge,” she said. “I’m a nurse. I see people dying. I’m doing my best to help them survive. That’s very difficult. Everything else is just a learning process.”