Healthcare executive Charlotte Price Leonard was selected earlier this month to fill the vacant Seat 3 on the Westlake City Council.
The council has been in flux since the November resignation of former Councilman Patric Paul. Since that time, only one member of the council hasn’t changed — JohnPaul O’Connor, who moved up from vice mayor to mayor.
Leonard was chosen at the Monday, May 9 meeting on a first-ballot, 3-1 vote by the other four members of the council. She replaces O’Connor, who ran unopposed for mayor and stepped into that position in March, vacating Seat 3.
“And with that, we have a full council again,” O’Connor said.
Leonard was selected over three other candidates who submitted résumés and spoke to council members at an April 19 workshop. She said she was surprised to be selected — and even more surprised to be sworn-in and to immediately take her seat on the dais.
The married mother of two adult children, Leonard said education and healthcare will be her focus on the council.
“As Westlake grows, we’re going to have lots of kids out here,” she said. “How do we prepare for that and support our schools?”
As for healthcare, the Goldfinch Circle resident said the council has an opportunity to influence in a positive way how that looks in the future.
Leonard has a master’s degree in healthcare law from Nova Southeastern University. She is a certified coach, teacher, trainer and speaker through the well-known John Maxwell Leadership program, and not long ago she participated in the “Women on the Run” workshop, sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of Florida, which aims to educate and empower women and girls, investing in their ideas and encouraging their leadership to positively affect the economic, political and social status of women and girls across Florida.
O’Connor and Vice Mayor Greg Langowski said Leonard’s experience with ProMedica, one of the nation’s largest owners of nursing and rehabilitation facilities, was the deciding factor in their votes. As the company’s regional director of operations, Leonard overseas 11 nursing homes with a total of 1,700 employees and annual revenue of more than $140 million.
“Her experience handling large budgets could be a help to us in handling our budgeting process,” Langowski said. “Plus, her demeanor when she talked with us during the workshop was very impressive. Her sense of calm and of being at ease.”
O’Connor agreed with Langowski’s assessment.
“After carefully reviewing all of the very strong candidates, I felt that Ms. Leonard’s current leadership position and her history of proven leadership throughout her career would make her an excellent addition to the council and add some proven leadership to our city,” O’Connor said.
The other applicants for the position were Bianca M. Abrams, a licensed private investigator, insurance fraud specialist and business owner; Tammy C. Thomas, a program director at Gulfstream Goodwill Industries; and Jacob Wheeler, who works as a sales engineer/business development for W&O Supply of Fort Lauderdale.
“We had a panel of excellent candidates,” O’Connor said. “It was a really tough decision.”
Councilwoman Pilar Valle Ron, who cast her vote for Wheeler, said she was impressed by his attendance at council and other meetings. “He seems to be a person who is very committed to the city,” she said, while adding that she is not disappointed about Leonard’s selection. “Her résumé is amazing. I think she’s going do great things for the city.”
Prior to moving to Westlake in May 2021, Leonard had planned to use her business and leadership skills to become an advocate for West Palm Beach’s Pleasant City neighborhood, established in 1905. But after moving to Westlake, Leonard said she began to think about getting in “on the ground floor” of the young community, which was incorporated six years ago.
Though Leonard said she’ll always be willing to lend her voice to revitalization efforts in Pleasant City, where she grew up, “I decided I wanted to get involved early in the process [of developing a city]. I want to help make impactful decisions about Westlake’s future.”