AZ Central Voter’s Guide Answers

My answers to the’s Voting Guide:

Civil Rights
Do you think people of color in Maricopa County are treated the same as whites? If not, what, if any, actions would you take to address this disparity?

“No. The fact is we have to start by being honest with ourselves and admit that there is racism in Maricopa County. Second, we have to listen. I recently participated in the Bridge Forum – a conversation about race in our community with leaders such as Rev. Warren Stewart, James Jones of the Phoenix Suns as well as Sheriff Paul Penzone and County Attorney Allister Adel. Third, we have to engage. I propose that the Board of Supervisors appoint a committee of diverse leaders from across the county to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on how we can address racial disparity in our community.”

County Services
Are changes needed in the Animal Care and Control department? Why or why not?

“As a dog owner and animal person, I take our responsibility to find new homes for these pets seriously. More people click on Maricopa County’s website for Animal Care and Control than anything else we do. Our former director, Mary Martin, recently left Maricopa County for another opportunity. The most important thing we can do is to hire the right person for this role. A national search for a new director must reveal someone who is committed to reducing euthanasia and increasing spay/neuter programs while valuing our employees and our many wonderful volunteers. It is also imperative that the department do a better job of using technology to provide excellent customer service and get our pets in loving homes as quickly as possible.”

What role should the Board of Supervisors play in elections?

“Nothing is more fundamental in a democracy than the right to vote and the right to have your vote counted. Unfortunately, Maricopa County residents faced significant obstacles when trying to vote in 2016 and 2018. The Maricopa County Recorder (a partisan elected official) has held the sole responsibility to run elections in our county since the 1950s. As the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in 2019, I negotiated with Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes to create a new elections model where the Board of Supervisors and the Recorder run our elections collaboratively in a bipartisan manner. In addition, the Board approved new voting machines last year which will be more secure and produce quicker results. The Board doubled the Elections Department staff to more than 50 employees to improve the operations for the 2020 elections and beyond. The Board has also worked with the Recorder to provide multiple safe voting options in the upcoming August and November elections by reminding our voters of their option to mail-in their ballot as well as ensuring social distancing and frequent cleaning on Election Day of our voting sites to keep our voters and poll workers safe.”

Infrastructure / Transportation
What role should the county play in regional transportation planning?

“Maricopa County is the fourth largest county in the United States. In addition, it has been the fastest growing county in the country for the last three years. As a result, Maricopa County is planning for our future transportation needs. We build all roads in the unincorporated parts of Maricopa County like Sun City and Anthem. Further, we partner with the State of Arizona and the federal government on freeways and even rail projects. Prop 400 which provides significant funding for our regional transportation needs sunsets in 2025 so I am committed to working with my colleagues, the state legislature and the Governor so that our region continues to have the funding we need to maintain our current transportation infrastructure while building new projects to support future growth.”

Quality of Life
What is the single biggest issue facing Maricopa County, and how would you address it as a member of the Board of Supervisors?

“COVID-19 is the number one issue facing Maricopa County. Maricopa County is the public health authority for our region and since the first positive case was identified in January of this year, we have been focused on determining the breath of challenge and how best to keep our residents safe. As a former member of the Phoenix City Council as well as a member of Gov. Ducey’s transition team, I have stressed that we need to put partisanship aside so that all levels of government are working together to address COVID-19. We must maintain our focus on protecting those most vulnerable in our community by getting our healthcare workers and others PPE, testing supplies and the latest information regarding the spread of the virus and continuing to expand contact tracing. In addition, we must address the economic impact of COVID-19. That’s why the Board of Supervisors allocated $23 million in grants for small businesses that have been impacted to help them stay afloat and keep people employed.”

Social Services
What role do you believe the county should play in solving homelessness?

“Homelessness is not just a central Phoenix problem; it is a regional challenge and that’s why Maricopa County was one of the original funders of the Central Arizona Shelter Services homeless shelter. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors continues to lead on the response to homelessness having increased our budget for homelessness the last two years. In fact, we recently earmarked $30 million of CARES funding from the federal government to help people stay in their homes and apartments and avoid slipping into homelessness. Additionally, the County currently is providing shelter to the most vulnerable of our homeless population at local hotels to slow the spread of COVID-19. The County cannot solve the challenge of homelessness alone – that’s why I’m committed to working with my former colleagues at the City of Phoenix as well as other municipalities in our area to tackle this regional challenge together.”

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Bill Gates serves as the District 3 Supervisor for Maricopa County. His Maricopa County District 3 reaches from the far southern boundary of McDowell Road, north to the border of Yavapai County, from the eastern boundary of Scottsdale Road in places, to the western boundary of 43rd Avenue and includes the areas of Anthem, New River, and Desert Hills.

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