Phoenix mayoral race days away

The election for Phoenix Mayor is four days away on March 12, 2019.

The race originally had four candidates with former city councilmembers Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela qualifying for a runoff election.

The Mayoral special election was triggered after former Mayor, and now current United States Congressman, Greg Stanton (D-9) announced he would be stepping down from his position to run for Congress.

Phoenix voters have shown they care about a wide variety of issues ranging from public safety and transportation to trade and homelessness. We reached out to the candidates to discuss issues facing the nation’s fifth largest city. Valenzuela shared his opinions with CBN but Gallego was not available to respond.

Phoenix’s relationship with Mexico

Valenzuela says he is committed to growing Phoenix’s relationship with Hermosillo, Mexico – a trade partner and sister city of Phoenix – while also seeking new trade opportunities for both.

“While Mexico is our largest trading partner, we will continue to work globally with other international markets that provide opportunities for business attraction and trade,” Valenzuela said. “These partnerships are important to our economy’s future success. My leadership and experience with working with the business community is why I have earned the endorsement of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.”

The South Central Light Rail expansion

A controversial addition to the Valley’s current light rail, the South Central Light Rail expansion plans to add a track that goes from downtown Phoenix into South Phoenix along Central Avenue.

Multiple groups have come forward against the expansion saying that the money could be used for infrastructure improvements instead.

According to Valenzuela, he supports the “voter-approved initiative” but believes the city needs to be thoughtful of the surrounding area.

I will make it a priority to engage the community and get their input, as it is critically important that we take the time to do that. Businesses and individuals will be impacted by the construction, and we as the city need to be transparent about the process and take into account the public feedback. Ultimately, we need a transportation system that reflects the type of city we want to be while being cognizant of the people who live and do business here now,” Valenzuela said.

The Drought Contingency Plan and water usage

Arizona and the Southwest region are currently in the middle of a water crisis. Earlier this year Arizona passed its Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) which outlined how the state will conserve water used from the Colorado River. While the issue is still not resolved at the national level, individual cities are taking water conservation into their own hands.

Valenzuela suggests using technology and infrastructure expansion – such as smart city initiatives that use sensors – to address the water issue.

“[I] will develop a long-term strategy on infrastructure investments, seeking more innovative approaches to water conservation – such as using sensor technology for water lines for early detection of water leaks – to conserve water and prevent unnecessary and timely construction to repair water line breaks,” Valenzuela said. “We have an opportunity to use technology as a way to communicate with residents on water conservation practices, tips on how your water bill can help you detect a slow leak, and even landscaping and irrigation tips.”

Public safety

Valenzuela, a current firefighter for the city of Glendale, said he is dedicated to keeping Phoenix safe. According to him, he understands that public safety needs to be the number one priority in the community and knows first hand the importance of making sure first responders make it home safely.

I understand the importance of making sure our first responders make it home to their families safely,” Valenzuela said. “It is imperative that we…bring the staffing levels up to reflect the size of our community. We have 500 fewer cops today than we did 10 years ago. We can and we must do better to ensure our public safety personnel have the technology and resources they need to make Phoenix a safe community for all.”

Upkeeping Phoenix’s rapid growth

According to Valenzuela, the biggest challenge Phoenix faces is also its greatest opportunity.

“To prepare for continued growth, we will make sure we are continuing to diversify our economy, so we are not faced with an overreliance on growth as a driver of our economy,” he said. “Today, the industries that call Phoenix home range from local tech companies to global manufacturers. This growth is dependent upon safe streets, modern infrastructure and a skilled workforce – all things that the city can be a leader on.”

The future of Phoenix

Valenzuela also told Chamber Business News that he hopes to see a stronger economy and safer community in the next five years and in the next ten years see Phoenix as a leader in entrepreneurial activity and innovation.

“When I was first on the council, we had 60 tech companies in downtown Phoenix. Today, we have more than 300. Between creating CodePHX, a free coding program for students in Phoenix, and working to create The Hive, a business incubator in Phoenix libraries, and my work with Startup Week Phoenix, I hope to see an acceleration of these programs, making them available across the city. It is the entrepreneurs that create jobs, not government,” he said.

Emily Richardson

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