The Peoria Independent invites candidates to provide answers to questions as part of their coverage of our local communities upcoming elections and so voters can get to know the candidates.
For those of you who do not subscribe or otherwise have a chance to read the Independent I thought I’d share my full response. Published September 2022
Name: Diane Douglas
City/town you grew up in: Bridgewater, NJ; AZ resident since 1990. We moved to AZ to raise and educate our daughter.
Number of years you’ve lived in Peoria:
2 years; previously Sun City West 7 years, Glendale 23 years
AZ Superintendent of Public Instruction 1/5/2015-1/6/2019;
Peoria Unified School District Governing Board 2005-2012; President 2008, 2009;
Republican Precinct Committeeman 2002-present
What do you do for a living?
Retired. Previously AZ SPI; Stained Glass Artist and Instructor; Financial Analyst.
What types of involvement have you had within the community? (Ex: volunteering with a charity, serving on a board, circulating petitions for a local cause you care about, etc)
Crown of Life Lutheran Church, Sun City West: Mission Board; Round Table Planning Board 2019-2020
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction 1/5/2015- 1/6/2019
Apostle’s Lutheran Church, Peoria: Board of Education – 2009 – 2013; Preschool Board 2012-2013
Peoria Unified School District Governing Board 2005 – 2012; President 2008, 2009
School Site Council– Ironwood H.S. PUSD; Desert Valley Elementary PUSD
Ironwood High School – volunteer Guidance Office.
Desert Valley PTSA 1993/94 – 2000; PTSA Treasurer 1997 – 2000; classroom volunteer (back in the days when they allowed parents to volunteer).
Parent Board of Directors Glendale Christian Preschool 1991-1992
Family information: Anything you would like to share related to your spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, pets, etc. This question is OPTIONAL.
Married 35 years, daughter, son-in-law and the best grandson EVER! A most adorable little doggie.
Campaign website: Douglas4Peoria.com
Short answer questions:
What is your favorite thing about Peoria and why?
Old Town Peoria. Coming from the east coast I grew up visiting historical buildings and they hold a special place in my heart. I think it is important to honor our history. I would like to see Old Town revitalized.
Why are you running for office and what is the first thing you want voters to know about your campaign?
I am running for office because I want to live in and I want Peoria to be a city in which our elected representatives put our citizens and their needs first; before profiteers and especially before their own political and career self-interests. An elected office belongs to the citizens not the officeholder to be handed over to a chosen heir-apparent. The residents of Mesquite District were abandoned by our elected councilmember, only1 year and 3 months after being re-elected to a 4 year term, quitting to run for a higher office. According to my opponent, as told to me and several others, he was recruited and assured of his appointment to the vacated seat. This left the resident of Mesquite unrepresented, without a voice and without a vote, on the Council during the controversial Trailhead project; a major development rezoning decision impacting our community – the details of which were not made readily available to the community.
Ms. Binsbacher and 3 incumbent candidates, including my opponent, all have the same lobbying firm running their campaigns. First such firms get the people in power then they use those connections – that’s lobbying. When a majority of the council is indebted to the same firm the council is no longer independent and representing the people in my opinion. This is unacceptable and needs to change for the well-being of the future of Peoria.
I want Mesquite voters to know that I believe in including the people I represent in the planning and decisions that impact their quality of life.
What do you believe are the three most important issues facing the city of Peoria?
The most important role of government, at any level, is ensuring the safety of its citizens. The Peoria City Council has grossly neglected this number one duty by allowing public safety departments staffing levels in Peoria to fall far below those of AZ cities of similar size and demographics. Once appropriately adjusted then full staffing of our police and fire departments must be addressed.
The most important duty of elected officials is the budget, approving and monitoring an appropriate budget, oversight of citizens’ tax dollars and reining in wasteful spending.
Lack of communication with and input from constituents in major decisions and development projects which may impact their communities or quality of life; lack of respect for decisions made at the voting box.
Please describe the approach you would take to solve each of these issues if elected.
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. With my background as a financial analyst, a member of the Peoria U.S.D. board responsible for a $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. Also as AZ SPI I conducted town hall meetings all across the state to bring the citizens of AZ to the table. I will conduct similar meetings for the citizens of Mesquite to provide information and solicit input.
Things can be divisive these days. What can you do to help bring people together rather than divide?
If the question pertains to the community at large, isn’t that what America has been about since its very beginning; the freedom to hold differing opinions, perspectives and speak openly about them? Holding differing opinions should not be deemed ‘divisive’ in my opinion; trying to shut down the opinions of others with whom one disagrees should be. That being said, I believe what we can do is create, not just talk about, transparency in city government. We need to invite our citizens into discussions that impact them early, often and by inviting all opinions and perspectives to the table as I did on my Listening Tours as AZ SPI.
If the question pertains to council members, there is prevailing philosophy that city council (and school board) decisions must be a completely united consensus. In my experience it is those in the majority who deem those in the minority to be ‘divisive’ or ‘uncooperative’ for standing in the way of the ultimate goal of unanimity. This is an absolutely ludicrous. 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.