By Marie Lasater
The May meeting of the Texas County Federated Republican Women (TCFRW) was held last Saturday at the Pizza Hut in Houston. In the busy primary season, with four Republican filers for Texas County Presiding Commissioner, two candidates were scheduled to speak at the meeting; Scott Long of Cabool, and Bill Villapiano of Houston.
Candidate Scott Long was first to address the group of approximately 25 women and men. As a resident of Texas County since 1993, Long discussed his work history that includes being an educator in multiple school districts, and his ability to solve problems, frequently called on to lend a hand in adjoining districts. Long, and his wife Sheila, are long-time Republicans, and Sheila served as chairman of the Texas County Republicans in the mid-90’s. They currently own Cabool Country Meats in Cabool, and are the parents of five children.
Long served in the capacity of Ag instructor at Houston High school, travelling many of the county roads, and assisting students with their Ag projects.
“Agriculture is number one here in Texas County,” says Long.
He also noted that some of the county roads need repair. He served on the FFA legislative committee for 15 years, watching what was happening in Jefferson City in regards to agriculture.
“I’ve known Jason Smith since he was a tyke, and spoke with him before his run for state rep, replacing Emerson. He hasn’t let me down,” he stated, going on to say, “I spent a lot of time in Jefferson City, and I developed relationships.”
When listing priorities in our county, he states, “Our bridges and roads need help, or we will have a problem.” He also addressed the “bad press” currently surrounding the county commissioners, stating, “People need to trust you. Your name and reputation are important, and all that you can take with you.”
Long feels that he will help to portray a positive image for Texas County, quoting the FFA Code of Ethics – including being honest, trustworthy, generous in defeat, and taking pride in what you do.
Long concluded, “I can’t tell you why I am better than the other candidates, but I put a lot of time and effort in what I do, nobody will outwork me. I’m used to working from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. I own my mistakes. We live in one of the greatest places in the world – the Ozarks.”
Bill Villapiano, accompanied to the meeting with his wife June, then stood up to speak. Pastor at Faith Fellowship for 34 years, Villapiano stated, “Faithfully taking care of resources and finances, our building is debt free, and our new 4,000 sq. foot youth center is top-notch.”
In 1973, he moved to Texas County from Chicago. The Villapianos married in 1976, and, despite their young ages (18 and 16), “not very smart, and I don’t recommend marrying at such a young age,” they, “beat the odds and now have four children and eight grandchildren.”
“We have to make an investment in our youth in order to raise up leaders,” stated Villapiano. “I’ve spent my life in the church, and have devoted a tremendous amount of attention to developing leadership skills. Today, I lead a delegation with 80 volunteers, who have been instrumental in putting together the Prayer Zone, and Carrying the Cross.”
Villapiano has served as the president of the Houston Ministerial Alliance several times, and is proud of the Celebrate Recovery program at Faith Fellowship that now sees 30–40 people attending each week.
Villapiano supports the township system, saying, “The closer the government is to the people, the better it works. If it doesn’t function well, the people can change it (via their vote).”
In regards to what he can bring to the role as commissioner, Villapiano said, “I’m good with people and relationships. I know how to do public relations. We have challenges in our community, and our PR is not very good. I’m also very good with technology. In the church, I keep a five-year vision in front of the congregation. Without preachers, there would have been no American Revolution. Everything rises and falls on leadership, and, no matter what, I’d like to be part of that leadership. My wife and the church board are both in support of my bid for presiding commissioner. I’m at a point in my life where I feel I can serve the community in a way other than pastoring – I’ll pass that torch on to a younger man.”