New PSL mayor steps into firestorm of controversy - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

New PSL mayor steps into firestorm of controversy

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL (WFLX) - JoAnn Faiella took the reigns in Port St. Lucie Monday night, and stepped into a firestorm of controversy over community safety and police layoffs.

She lead her Port St. Lucie mayoral campaign on change and accountability. She says, day one, she will start analyzing the budget and seeing if it's possible.

In front of a packed crowd, Joann Faiella took the oath. "I didn't do it. It was the people that did it and got me this far, and I am proud to serve for the next four years," she said.

Faiella took her seat. Her predecessor's reputation now in the past. The job left vacant after Patricia Christensen resigned over allegations of mishandling campaign finances.

Faiella fought hard to beat Councilman Chris Cooper.

The race seemed to focus on the city police officers. More than two dozen laid off in September.

Faiella, a former police department employee, lead a campaign pushing for their jobs back. Now, that she's in office, she said she will look hard at making that possible. "Getting down with the city manager and talking about and scrutinizing that budget, and my lines of thinking is getting an outside independent budget going."

Her supporters believe she'll do it. Chris Heitfeld lost his job. He hopes the new mayor delivers. "I think the ball is going to roll now. She said it, I believe her," he said.

So does the police union who fought the city council hard these past few months. "We know it's not going to be a flick of a switch. We want to help her and support her anyway that can happen," said a police union member.

In council chambers just an hour after Faiella and the new councilwoman, Shannon Martin, took their new jobs, the two met for the first time -- getting started on what, they call, the new Port St. Lucie.

The council also voted for Linda Bartz to take the role of vice-mayor.

As for Chris Cooper, he was not in attendance Monday night which, we are told, is unusual. In the last seven years, a former councilman or woman has always shown up to hand off their job.

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