I, Leonard S. Villafranco, would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my family, colleagues, friends and supporters for all of your generosity, kindness and shows of affection during this campaign. While we were not successful in our bid for St. Lucie County Judge this time around, I can honestly say that this experience has been one of, if not the most rewarding experiences of my life.
This journey has been an amazing learning experience for me, and has contributed to my individual growth as a person, as an attorney and as a future judge. Throughout this campaign, I developed many new friendships. Friendships that I believe may very well last a lifetime. While I am going to thank certain folks by name, if I fail to mention any of you specifically, please know that I appreciate absolutely all of you!!.
While a Judicial Candidate is prohibited from endorsing any candidate for public office, while on the campaign trail, I did have he opportunity to get to know and develop what I sincerely hope will be longstanding friendships with many of them. First and foremost, we had the opportunity to personally get to know and develop a special friendship with the Honorable Phillip J. Yacucci, Jr., and his lovely wife, Maria Luna Yacucci, and I congratulate him on his reelection. We often found ourselves campaigning side by side and the mutual respect was endearing to me, while the friendship that developed between Maria and Tonya was very special. We look forward to continuing that relationship. We also had the opportunity to get to know his opponent, attorney Stephen Smith, Esq., and while their race was in fact quite heated, Stephen and Jen treated us with nothing but kindness and respect.
We also worked the campaign trail with many of the other fine candidates, including Port St. Lucie Mayor Joann Faiella who has become a very good friend. Now that I am no longer a Judicial Candidate, I can honestly say that Mayor Faiella, despite some bad press, has proven to be a mayor that truly cares for the people of Port St. Lucie and is a true friend to any small business in this area. Other mayoral candidates, including James Rich and Joe Edge have also proven to be very viable candidates, good friends and successful local business and networking associates, and I know that they will be successful in all of their future endeavors.
Tonya and I also appreciated all of the kindness and help of many of the other candidates on the campaign trail, including our neighbor, Donna Mills, who I congratulate on her success! While her opponent, Jeremy Thiesen, was unsuccessful in his campaign, he has also become a good friend, and along with James A. Taylor, successful candidate for Port St. Lucie City Council, both have promised not to make fun of my karaoke singing. I would also like to thank Andriana Chris Riera and her husband, who, while also unsuccessful in her bid for public office, worked so hard and was a great help with signs. Let’s have dinner soon!!!
All of the other candidates and their individual supporters that we met on the campaign trail, thank you for all of your kindness!! It was a wonderful experience getting to know you all and I sincerely wish you the best in all that you do in the future!!!
I also want to thank Elizabeth Marks, whose hard work with my events introduced me to many many new supporters and contributors.
The local business community of St. Lucie County has also been a tremendous support system. All of the members of the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce, where my law firm has been a member for the better part of the past 10 years, have been so helpful with my journey. Additionally, the great folks at the Opportunity Network have stood by my side, both as a business man and as a candidate. Mike Mulleady and his wife, Cindy, came through in a pinch with many of our marketing needs, while Eric and Lori Finkel have been so helpful. Local restaurants, including Tutte Fresco West, Rinelli’s Yellow Tail and Hurricane Grill generously supported my campaign by holding events and providing wonderful food.
Scott and Nancy Camire, you have been my best friends for the past 10 years. You are my family and I love you both for your emotional support as well as for your financial support! I know that I can always count on you in all that I do, and I want to assure you both that you can take comfort in knowing that I will always be by your side as well.
My Son, Michael Villafranco and Gabrielle Pinyati, along with my Daughter Brittany and my Step Daughter Elizabeth Nilsen, and my Cousin, Susan Majors, and my sister, Melissa Villafranco were out there holding signs, taking part in my events, gathering petitions and supporting my bid for public office, along with my law office legal assistant, Stephanie Burgess. I love you all.
My Mother, Helen Villafranco has been the most caring mother any grown man can ever ask for. You have been by my side through this entire endeavor. It’s nice to know that even at age 54, a boy can always turn to his mom. And Robert Crook, my mom’s partner, has proven to be the best of friend and supporter. Welcome to the family!!!
I want to also take this opportunity to thank my father, Leonard Villafranco, Sr. You were the finest man that I have ever known. Not a day went by when I didn’t think about you or talk to you. You were missed every day, and I felt how proud you were of me every step of the way.
Saving the best for last, my true love, Tonya Nilsen. You have supported me every single minute of every single day. You put up all of the ups and downs of this incredible journey. Dealt with bad moods and frustrations, and shared each and every moment of joy and happiness. I could not have done it with out you!!!
I also want to thank the people of St. Lucie County. It has been my honor to serve you as an attorney and as a volunteer, and I look forward to continuing serving you. I appreciate all of your support and your many votes. It was a very tight race, and as they say in the movies…”I’ll be back!”
Lastly, I wish to take the opportunity to congratulate Al Moore for his success. Al has been a true gentleman and a respectful opponent. Not once did either of us take any cheap shots nor did we negatively campaign against each other. While I really did not know Al prior to this campaign, I respect his experience and have no doubt that he will make a fine Judge. If I can help in any way, please ask.
If you were not mentioned by name, please know that I appreciate each and every person that supported and contributed to my campaign in any way. My life is better because of each and every one of you.
Leonard S. Villafranco