AzCentral news recently queried candidates about their positions facing the City of Peoria and it’s leadership. Below is my submission in full which couldn’t be included in the summary article.
- What are the top 3 city concerns you would address, and how do you propose solving them?
Among my top concerns – public safety, water and development – are included in the questions below. Therefore I will address additional concerns here – fiscal accountability and transparency.
The most important duty the council is the city’s budget; approving and monitoring an appropriate budget, oversight of citizens’ tax dollars and reining in wasteful spending. My background as a financial analyst, a member of the Peoria U.S.D. board responsible for a then $200M+ budget and as AZ SPI responsible for the allocation of over $10 billion of local, state and federal funding I am well versed in budgets.
In the Mesquite district, specifically the WestWing area, there has been an appalling lack of communication and transparency with residents about a development project which potentially impacts our community’s property values and quality of life. I will work to see residents receive timely and appropriate information; not merely the minimum notice required by law.
- What kind of development does Peoria need, and how can the city attract that?
Peoria needs economic development bringing in industries which create viable job and career opportunities for our citizens; especially that will keep our children coming home after finishing their education to start their careers. It needs to plan with a vision for the future not just what any developer wants today – with a design and balance between residential and industrial. This will drive revenue to the city and while this will not eliminate the tax burden on our citizens it will at least help carry it.
The City can attract such development by making the process as efficient, time and cost effective as possible for the industries that settle in Peoria. When I was on Peoria school board we shuddered when we had to build in Glendale but Peoria was far more cooperative, at least for the school district. That no longer seems to be the case.
- How would you solve skyrocketing rent and housing costs that are pricing people out?
No one council member can singlehandedly solve any issue. The City Council does not and cannot control the housing market nor interest rates, other than to the extent that it can help the supply by making the process more efficient for developers. What the City Council can do is control its budget and expenses to maintain or lessen the tax burden it imposes upon our citizens. Likewise the city can encourage industrial development. When a city is a bedroom community the support of city services all falls in the wallets of its citizens. Appropriate economic development with job and workforce creation will bring revenue into the City coffers.
- Does the city give enough funding to its police and fire departments, and do you believe Peoria is a safe place to live?
The most important role of government, at any level, is ensuring the safety of its citizens. The statistics I’ve seen show that our police department’s officer-to-resident ratio is significantly below those of AZ cities of similar size and demographics; as are our officers’ salaries. Once appropriately adjusted then full staffing must be maintained. When an organization is unable to retain its employees the cost of recruitment and retraining puts an unnecessary strain of the budget not to mention the threat to public safety. We must make public safety – police, fire, EMTs – a number one priority over the current agenda of parks and trails.
While I personally feel safe living in Peoria clearly different areas have different concerns. The Peoria Police Dept. announced its new public resource the Police Incident Map where residents can look up incidents in their neighborhoods. This is an excellent resource for our citizens but the numbers will only go up if we don’t get the officers we need.
- What is your understanding of the water issues confronting the city and why should the public trust you to be a good water steward?
We know our city and our state are confronting a drought with Tier 2a reductions. As I look around my own HOA I see so much waste of water with a ridiculous number of plants and trees mandated on every lot. Yes, xeriscape but virtually all being watered in a desert. A waste – IMHO.
Peoria is a member of the AZ Municipal Water User Association created in 1969 by 3 valley mayors to advocate, protect and ensure laws and regulations pertaining to water for their cities. Currently only one mayor serves on the association. The remaining seats are filled by city council members. In the case of Peoria ours is an interim member who has been on the council less than 5 months. If this association is involved with serious plans and negotiations over water rights and issues, it is my opinion that our mayor must represent Peoria on AMWUA.
- What perspective and voice would you bring to the City Council?
I will bring the perspective and voice of the people of Mesquite District. I bring the experience of a long history of public service, having served on the Peoria Unified board and as AZ Superintendent of Public Instruction. I will work to protect our communities’ right to know and have input, early and thoroughly about issues that impact our neighborhoods. As AZ SPI I conducted town hall meetings all across the state to bring the citizens of AZ to the table. I am willing to conduct similar meetings for the citizens of Mesquite to provide information and solicit input.
I always will vote my values and principles in adherence to my Oath of Office in the best interests of the residents of Peoria and my constituents in the Mesquite District. I will honor the term of office and not walk out on the residents of Mesquite to run for higher office.
- Peoria is a rapidly growing city and with that comes more people and more development. How do the needs of Mesquite residents differ from the needs of the city as a whole, and how will you balance those as a city councilmember?
Clearly Mesquite is a district with significant amounts of open land ripe for development. The city as a whole needs an economic development plan rather than haphazard projects.
The whole purpose of representative districts, be they congressional, legislative or city, is so the citizens of a given district have a voice in the government which is making decisions and imposing laws or regulations upon their lives and taxes upon their livelihoods.
I will work with my fellow council members on these priorities but much like a school board, no single city council member can mandate changes. But unlike a school board member elected to represent the district at-large, a council member should be a voice for their constituents; bringing their concerns to the decisions made for the city as a whole.