Phoenix Councilman Bill Gates’ Inauguration Speech, January 4, 2016
Colleagues, family, friends, residents of City of Phoenix,
Beginning in Dec. 2007, Phoenix was jarred by the Great Recession, which changed landscape of Phoenix as dramatically as any event in Phoenix’s history – 300,000 jobs lost in AZ, Property values plummeted, 67% of mortgages were underwater. Today, we are seeing a new Phoenix rise. This city is in a period of unprecedented RE-development. People are moving to downtown like we haven’t seen in decades. Within downtown, a hot new area for development is the warehouse district – thank you Councilwoman Gallego for making this a priority of yours.
This re-development isn’t just downtown; we are seeing it in Councilwoman Pastor’s district in midtown Phoenix (2 million sq. ft. of office space filled just since August 2014), exploding growth of Grand Canyon University in Councilman Valenzuela’s District & even around Metro Center in Councilwoman Williams’ District. And in my district we’ve seen growth and new businesses along the North 32nd corridor, in Moon Valley, and the North Mountain Business Area.
What’s driving this redevelopment?
There’s been a lot written about millennials who don’t want a long commute, who value being in the middle of an exciting urban environment and who want to walk or bike to work and play. At the same time, we have a large number of baby boomers retiring who don’t necessarily want to live in Sun City and play shuffleboard, and are instead looking for many of the same things that the millennials are.
City government has helped. The ASU campus downtown and Biomedical campus have brought vibrancy to downtown. Thank you former Mayor Phil Gordon and then-Councilman Greg Stanton. Not to be outdone – Councilman Waring is working with Mayor Stanton in desert ridge to develop a new biomedical campus anchored by Mayo.
Government can help, but the new Phoenix that is rising is primarily being built by the private sector. A great example of this is Portland on the Park. It is a 14-story condominium project being built south of Margaret Hance Park. A project of this size and at that location would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Now, people are selling their houses in PV and buying $1 million condo units in Downtown Phoenix.
We are inspired by the new Phoenix that is rising around us. In the new Phoenix, residents don’t just wait to see what businesses and development will come to their communities – they tell us online what they want and think. We have seen an explosion of people expressing themselves online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and thousands of District 3 residents on nextdoor.com. We use these tools to educate residents about what’s going on at the city and we monitor social media to learn the latest from our residents. Having said that, there’s nothing like talking and meeting with our residents in person. Just last fall, my team and I attended over 100 community events and meetings.
We heard that our residents along North 32nd wanted the vacant retail space turned into more restaurants and family friendly businesses. Two of District 3’s most popular restaurants in that area, 32 Shea rose from an old photo mat, while OHSO Brewery was an old plant nursery. The shuttered Ozzie ice skating rink will re-open soon as a rock climbing gym, while the old bowling alley will become an airsoft arena. For those of you who haven’t heard of airsoft – think paintball without the paint. I’ve got some breaking news for you – the winner of an airsoft battle on North 32nd among the eight councilmembers will be named next Vice Mayor. Let me tell you – I’ve got my money on Thelda Williams!!
In Moon Valley, they told us they wanted to see improved grocery opportunities – we worked closely with the property owner at 7th Street and Thunderbird and the Safeway is currently being expanded and the largest Fry’s Marketplace in Arizona is rising from the ashes of the old Lund Cadillac on Bell Road.
Sunnyslope residents let me know they were left with a gaping hole when Food City left so it was our pleasure to work closely with property owners at Central & Dunlap to bring the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market to Sunnyslope, which has been embraced by the community.
Another area we hear a lot about in District 3 is the Paradise Valley Mall. We’ve been listening and I think you are going to like what’s coming in 2016 and beyond.
With all this great private sector investment flowing into Phoenix, what role does City government play? First and foremost, people must feel safe. That’s why public safety is my #1 priority. Since 2009, our crime rate has actually gone DOWN which is remarkable given that we are down 500 officers. They could not have accomplished this incredible feat without the leadership of Councilman Nowakowski who chairs our Public Safety subcommittee & assists with our block watches and Phoenix Neighborhood Patrol programs across the city! Good news is that help is on the way…we will hire hundreds of new officers in this fiscal year. Of course, we appreciate all of our First Responders – police officers, fire fighters, park rangers & others. We are also thankful for all of the veterans of our armed forces who work for the City of Phoenix – special recognition to Councilman DiCiccio who recently hired a vet, Craig Doyle, as his Chief of Staff.
So how will we attract qualified employees to the city and still live within our means in the new Phoenix? I believe there is no question we must continue our efficiency and cost savings efforts. I have been proud to chair our efficiency subcommittee for the past several years and working with our employees and members of the private sector, have identified over $103 million in efficiency savings – and those continue on an annual basis. I am committed to finding even more energy efficiency savings, selling additional city-owned property and using technology to do the people’s work better, of course we can, and we must save money through pension reform at the city and state level.
I’m excited about the New Phoenix that is rising and privileged to be on the Council at this time of great transformation of this city. We have a talented Mayor and City Council, an exemplary city manager with a strong supporting cast. If we use technology to become more efficient, really live within our means and provide great customer service to our residents – our potential is unlimited. I can’t wait to see the heights to which the new Phoenix will rise in 2016 and beyond.
I am honored to have been elected for a third time as District 3 Councilman. Thank you to the voters of District 3 for putting their faith in me. Thank you to my campaign team and volunteers. Thank you to my Chief of Staff Laura Etter, Dominic Papa and Rose Ferguson of the District 3 office who provide the best constituent service in the City of Phoenix. To my family, mom and dad, thanks for your love and support over the years and thank you for encouraging me to always pursue my dreams. To my wife, Pam, I love you. You are my best friend and you make me a better person. To our daughters, Emily & Corynn, I love you girls. Thank you for making me laugh and making me proud every day.