Here are the candidates for Phoenix mayor, in their own words
PHOENIX — The candidates for Phoenix mayor have less than a week before they will go head-to-head in the Nov. 6 election in a bid to lead Arizona’s largest city.
Democrats Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela, Republican Moses Sanchez and Libertarian Nicholas Sarwark spoke to KTAR News 92.3 FM in recent days to talk about why they are running for mayor and why Phoenix residents should elect them.
Here are the candidates, in their own words:
Kate Gallego (Former Phoenix City Council member):
“The Phoenix mayor’s race has broken an all-time turnout record. More people have voted in the Phoenix mayor’s race than any other mayor’s race in the past, so people are excited about what is happening in our city and they want to participate. I would bring a different perspective as the next Phoenix mayor. I would really focus on making sure that we diversify the economy and have higher-wage jobs.
“I have business background…and I’ve worked hard to make sure that we’re fiscally responsible and that we reduce waste. On the Phoenix City Council, I was able to sell Phoenix-owned land and bring more than $40 million into the city of Phoenix. That’s additional services for our residents without additional tax dollars. I also worked to make some of our processes, like when you get a parking ticket, more fair, so we don’t endlessly tack on fines and so people can actually afford to pay those tickets. That’s improved the number of people paying the tickets.
“I am focused on cutting red tape and bringing common sense to the city of Phoenix government. I would ask voters to look at my background and see that I’ve been able to get things done. I’ve brought people together to get equal pay for equal work for women, help bring more health care options and jobs to the city. I’m a strong voice to make sure we can help get things done.”
Daniel Valenzuela (Former Phoenix City Council member):
“I’m running for mayor of Phoenix for the same reasons I became a firefighter, and that’s to serve and give back to the community that’s given me so much. I was raised primarily by a single mother with the help of the church and great organizations. It’s led me to a life of service. I’ve served as a Phoenix firefighter for many years. I’ve also served on the Phoenix City Council and now I am running to be the mayor of my hometown, Phoenix.
“Now as I’m running for mayor, the platform is the same. It’s about keeping people safe, it’s about creating opportunities for good paying jobs in our city and it’s about expanding education opportunities. I want to continue moving the needle in those areas. I was honored to lead the effort to lift the hiring freeze so we can hire more first responders. I led on economic development and job creation in the city of Phoenix.
“There’s a lot more that we need to do and I’m looking forward to continuing the work for the city of Phoenix. Please vote… It’s incredibly important that people vote. It’s very important to our community. I’m asking for voters to entrust this hometown kid, this kid with a life story that’s very much reflected in our city. I will always, always make it about the people of Phoenix. I hope to continue this work as a policy worker as the mayor of Phoenix.”
Moses Sanchez (Former high school board member):
“One of the things that makes me unique is I am an outsider. I come with a different set of leadership experiences, I’ve spent the last 22 years in the military, I’m still currently a reservist. I’ve spent four years active duty, one tour in Afghanistan in 2011. So I’ve led in the battlefield. I’ve also led in the classroom, teaching at South Mountain Community College, macro and microeconomics for the last decade, and I’ve led in the board room. I’ve served on our local school board here, in Phoenix and in Tempe (Tempe Union High School District), so I’ve had a wide variety of diverse leadership experiences.
“One of the things we need in city hall is leadership, in particular in public safety, infrastructure and what I call quality of life issues: Those are your public pools, your parks, your public libraries and homelessness. These are the three most important issues on my campaign. I think it’s time for us to elect somebody with actual leadership experience and someone who can bring people together.
“City hall has been very dysfunctional for the last decade. The city has grown, but we’ve ignored and we haven’t made things that are important to Phoenix families a priority. Things like public safety, our police officers, our firefighters, they’re currently understaffed and undersupported. Infrastructure, our streets, our sidewalks, our roads, they’re a mess, and quality of life issues. I actually have experience in bringing diverse groups together, I did this when I served on the school board in the Valley. The people I served with did not agree with me on many issues, but we produced results.”
Nicholas Sarwark (Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee):
“I’m running for mayor of Phoenix because I have four children under the age of eight who go to Phoenix public schools. We have a small business here in Phoenix. I’m a third-generation Phoenician, and the City Council has not had a small-business owner who has that kind of perspective that can deal with some of the financial issues that Phoenix is facing with the pension crisis and the budget, so I thought I brought that perspective to the table and it would give Phoenix a new direction, where we build a resilient city that is a good place for our kids to grow up.
“The first thing I would look at is right now Phoenix takes in $4 billion every year in taxes and fees and spends over $500 million on debt service, but only $83 million on fixing our streets. So I would be looking at refocusing the Phoenix city budget on core priorities like streets, public safety, dealing with homelessness, parks, libraries, trees — all the things people expect from a world-class city — and not focus so much on trying to get into the property development business or buying hotels or providing subsidies to big developers. I think that we need to have a City Council that’s focused on being responsible with taxpayers’ money and not looking to raise taxes or add a food tax.
“The Phoenix mayor’s race is going to affect voters’ lives far more than the governor or senator’s race, and it’s important if we want to have a good city for our kids to grow up in that we get a mayor who’s focused on core city services and on being a good steward of the taxpayers’ money, not somebody who’s looking to pad a resume for a run for higher office or sees every problem as having a solution of just raising more tax money or borrowing more money with a bond issue.”
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report.