Phoenix City Council ready to tackle year

by Lynh Bui – Jan. 5, 2012 09:52 PM
The Republic |

All eyes have been on Mayor Greg Stanton as he brings new leadership to the Phoenix mayor’s office for the first time in eight years, but Stanton is just one vote out of nine on the Phoenix City Council.

While Stanton took the oath of office on Tuesday, so did three re-elected council members — Thelda Williams, Bill Gates and Michael Nowakowski — and new member Daniel Valenzuela.

They’ll all be working with the rest of their colleagues, Jim Waring, Tom Simplot and Michael Johnson, to improve the city and the individual districts they represent.

Council members say their priorities range from housing the homeless to boosting economic development to building a new biomedical campus in north Phoenix.

Each Phoenix council member’s goals for the coming year:

Thelda Williams

For District 1 in northwest Phoenix, begin a comprehensive General Plan update around Interstate 17 and the Loop 101. With Maricopa County, the Bureau of Land Management and neighboring cities that have interests in the area, “we need to coordinate and see what everyone’s ideas are and come up with something comprehensive that serves everyone well.”

Citywide, work on economic development and international business opportunities, targeting China and Germany. “If we want to be successful in the future, not only as a city, but as a state, we have to begin to build the infrastructure that supports ancillary business so that we’re not just a distribution point but have industry to ship products out.”

Jim Waring

For District 2 in northeast Phoenix, working with Mayor Greg Stanton to partner the Mayo Clinic Hospitalin Phoenix and Arizona State University to turn the land in the area into an employment hub. “The Mayo Clinic is certainly an incredible asset for District 2, and I’m looking forward to having the city of Phoenix working with them and ASU.”

Citywide, make processes more streamlined in the city to reduce bureaucracy and improve economic development, pension reform and union negotiations.

Bill Gates

For District 3, covering Sunnyslope and Moon Valley, work with different business associations to improve economic development in key areas such as 32nd Street, Hatcher Road and Cave Creek Road. “We’ve been doing these small-business roundtables around the district and they’re starting to bear fruit.”

Citywide, repeal the food tax while maintaining vital city services and work with Stanton to grow the city’s solar- and renewable-energy initiatives. “We want to make Phoenix a solar capital.”

Tom Simplot

For District 4 covering central Phoenix, open the city’s first permanent-housing apartment to take in the chronically homeless around the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center and the Native American Community Health Center. “We’re taking the (more than hundreds) of homeless people living in the bushes and the area off the street and into these 65 apartments. It reduces crime and frees up beds at the homeless shelters.”

Citywide, focus on city charter reform, including pension reform, creating an elected city prosecutor position and a city auditor position that answers to the City Council. “An independent city auditor, hired by the City Council, will give us an independent set of eyes to provide analysis. It’s all about transparency.”

Daniel Valenzuela

For District 5, covering Maryvale and west Phoenix, maintaining public safety, growing jobs and revitalizing neighborhoods.

Citywide, the same as his district priorities of focusing on public safety, jobs and strong neighborhoods. “I’m very proud of what (Mayor Phil) Gordon did to spearhead growth and support downtown Phoenix, but let’s face it, people spend more time in their neighborhoods than any place else in the city. If we want to have a strong city, we have to have strong neighborhoods.”

Sal DiCiccio

For District 6, covering Ahwatukee Foothills, north central Phoenix and the Camelback Corridor, improve the quality of life. “The big issue is because there’s been so many foreclosures. We’ve been working extensively with neighborhood groups to make sure none of the properties are in bad shape.”

Citywide, working on the city’s job-creation committee, aimed at cutting red tape and making it easier for businesses to get going in Phoenix. “Job creation is the cornerstone of reform here at City Hall because it will provide short-term and long-term economic stability for Phoenix.”

Michael Nowakowski

For District 7, covering Laveen and south Phoenix, improve the village system to bring the individual villages closer together as well as help them play a larger role in the citywide General Plan. “If we really want to look at economic growth and development, it is really through the villages, which also provide the opportunity to get the community involved and build leadership within the community.”

Citywide, balance the budget and work closely and respectfully with the employee groups to reach a fair compromise on contract negotiations.

Michael Johnson

For District 8, covering downtown and the South Mountain area, ensure economic vitality of the entire district, which is “highly impacted by the economy and the housing market.”

Citywide, continue growth and sustainability of downtown Phoenix.

Mayor Greg Stanton

Creating more bioscience, high-wage jobs both in northeast Phoenix near the Mayo Clinic Hospital and downtown. He said the city would be “remiss” to allow the land around Mayo Clinic Hospital in northeast Phoenix to turn into single-family homes or more retail. That doesn’t mean ignoring progress and growth downtown, he said. “For Phoenix to be a great city, each part must be successful. A great city should demand that its mayor multitask, and I will.”

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