Stanton sworn in as new Phoenix mayor

by Lynh Bui – Jan. 4, 2012 10:00 AM
The Republic |

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton promised transparency, openness and inclusion at City Hall on his first day in office.

Stanton officially became the city’s 52nd mayor Tuesday after being sworn into office by former Arizona Gov. Rose Mofford.

slideshow Meet the new Phoenix City Council for 2012 | New priorities | slideshow Inauguration photos

In his inaugural remarks, Stanton announced that the first thing he plans to do as mayor is form a new collaboration with Arizona State University, Mayo Clinic Hospital and others in the private sector to develop a major bioscience center in northeast Phoenix.

The Desert Ridge Bio-science Technology Collaborative will support the 210-acre Mayo Campus and “build complementary uses around the campus that focus on uses like higher education, research and development and technology-based development,” Stanton said.

The city already has a bioscience campus, the University of Arizona’s Phoenix medical school, which has spurred economic growth downtown. Stanton hopes to emulate the same success in northeast Phoenix, creating a second bioscience hub and employment center for the city.

Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix is located at 56th Street and Mayo Boulevard, south of the Loop 101 freeway.

Stanton, 41, replaces Mayor Phil Gordon, who was first elected in 2003 and reached his term limit at the end of 2011.

Stanton vowed to open up City Hall to everyone, whether they supported him or not during the campaign.

“Over the course of the past year, I came to understand that not everyone was in my corner,” Stanton said. “But for the next four years, I will be in your corner.”

The city must rise above “personalities and politics” to do what is best for Phoenix, he added.

Barry Broome, president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said Stanton’s remarks about moving Phoenix forward were exciting.

“We’ve had a tough three or four years in Phoenix, not just economically, but politically, with how divisive it’s been,” Broome said. “It was a good day for the city. This is a new beginning for the council.”

Stanton also announced he has created a Mayor’s Futures Forum on Education. He campaigned on an education platform and was criticized because school districts, not cities and towns, have jurisdiction over education in Arizona. But, Stanton insists that cities have to get involved.

“When one of our top employers of scientists and engineers says that if he had the decision to make all over again, he would never bring his business and its thousands of high-wage jobs to Arizona because of the lack of commitment to education, that is a call to action.”

Stanton was referring to former Intel Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Craig Barrett, who told state lawmakers in March that Arizona’s cuts to education are stifling economic development.

Stanton also used his inaugural address to show his support for city employees.

Politics in Phoenix has been divided in recent years over concerns about pension costs, employee compensation and the influence of the city’s labor unions.

Stanton said the city’s 14,000 employees are “real people who touch our lives every day.”

“They are not political pawns and do not deserve to be treated as if they were,” he added.

Stanton’s remarks could set the tone for upcoming labor negotiations between the city and five employee unions beginning Monday.

Newly elected District 5 Councilman Daniel Valenzuela also was sworn in Tuesday.

“I will seek common ground,” Valenzuela vowed in his remarks. “I will seek consensus. I will seek compromise.”

Stanton’s first official act as mayor was to swear in Valenzuela and re-elected members Bill Gates, Michael Nowakowski and Thelda Williams.

Current council members Sal DiCiccio, Michael Johnson, Tom Simplot and Jim Waring were also part of the ceremony.

Gates, Nowakowski and Williams each gave brief speeches, outlining their goals for the next four years in office and thanking supporters.

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