It is rare today to find a public official with an open genuine heart, but it is not impossible. JoAnn Faiella, Mayor of Port St. Lucie, is such an individual.
A person of service, Mayor Faiella has dedicated her life’s work to serving others.
Born in Brooklyn, JoAnn moved to Port St. Lucie with her family in 1988. While visiting her parents, she “fell in love” with the city and relocated.
Before arriving in Florida, Mayor Faiella worked in New York as a volunteer advocate for the elderly and as a school teacher. After relocating and raising her three children, she became a police service aide, later moving into the narcotics unit and finishing as a criminal intelligence analyst. She spent eight years with the Port St. Lucie Police Department.
In four years, she has achieved much.
The mayor had a major hand in creating Brittany’s Law, which allows police officers to “investigate suspects charged with sex crimes prior to being released on bond.” As a member of the police department, Faiella and another detective had worked Brittany Carleo’s case. “17-year old Brittany Carleo was murdered in Port St. Lucie in 2006 by a 42-year-old sex offender who bonded out after being arrested.” (WTXL/ Tallahassee)
The formation of the law was “near and dear” to her heart.
After three years, in 2013, Brittany’s Law went into effect. “The Carleo family received closure,” Mayor Faiella adds.
A ban on texting while driving is now on the books.
AT&T brought simulators into Port St. Lucie high schools demonstrating that every person who texted while driving would indeed crash. This too was a preventive measure implemented for saving lives.
Mayor Faiella believes that prevention is important, and laws must be changed and updated. For example, she is adamantly against allowing sober homes in residential areas. “This is what the city wants,” she states.
Mayor Faiella has also been instrumental in recruiting national businesses to Port St. Lucie (Bass Pro Shops, a Tesla Motors electric car charging station). Other plans in the works include a privately owned water park, a broker who is marketing the now defunct Digital Domain, and a transportation system for the city’s elderly. In addition, Crosstown Parkway has been approved, a design is forthcoming, and is estimated to be completed by 2018. This project too will bring jobs to Port St. Lucie.
Although she inherited a difficult economic situation, Mayor Faiella states that Port St. Lucie is in the process of recovery.
The value of real estate has increased, and the city has become a “Purple Heart” and “Golden Apple Award” city. Several schools have improved academic ratings, such as Centennial High School, which is now rated as an “A” school.
With 170,000 residents, Port St. Lucie is also the safest large city in Florida.
A humble woman and sincere, down-to-earth leader, Mayor Faiella admits, “If I do something wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it and move on.” She is known as the “People’s Mayor” because she is one of the people — a mother, a grandmother, a member of the police department, a teacher, the volunteer at food pantries who sees 50% of the elderly choosing between medication and food. “I care about people. They are my number one priority,” Faiella states. She supports many organizations which help the needy, such as Harvest Food Outreach.
Mayor Faiella responds herself to the public — she answers the majority of her own email and phone calls and maintains an open-door policy — if the mayor is in the office, she will see whoever comes in to speak with her.
Mayor Faiella’s salary was reduced by five percent during the transition from the police department to Mayor’s office. Point taken, she is a true servant, and one who allows her faith to guide her.
A hometown hero, Mayor JoAnn Faiella strives to make a difference in the lives of many. And from the lips of those who live and work in Port St.Lucie, “She has a heart.”
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© 2014 "Hometown Heroes" Kelly Jadon