Get ready to vote, Litchfield Park.
Ballots for city council and mayor candidates in Avondale, Litchfield Park, Tolleson and Buckeye were mailed by the Maricopa County Elections Department this week. (Goodyear does not have any seats up for election this year.)
Early voting for the Aug. 4 primary election began July 8. The last day to request a ballot by mail is July 24.
For those who are mailing ballots, the last day to mail is July 29 to make sure the ballot is counted.
The Litchfield Park ballot will have three city council seats up for grabs. Currently in these seats are Ann Donahue, John Romack and Ron Clair.
The incumbents and challenger Kerry Murphy Giangobbe are on the Litchfield Park ballot.
The West Valley View emailed questions to all candidates. Two responded:
Please briefly describe your background including any relevant education and work history.
I am a wife, mother, businesswoman, philanthropist, public servant (LD 13 Treasurer, Republican Party, precinct committeewoman, Republican Party, alternate delegate to the RNC, Jacksonville, Florida). I help manage my husband’s vascular surgery practice in Sun City West. I serve on many boards in Litchfield Park. Education: BA University of Arizona, MBA, Thunderbird School, Glendale, MA University of Iowa, Educational Administration.
Attended Arizona State and Central Michigan University, BS in Public Health. Public information officer, Litchfield Elementary School District. Marketing and sales manager, Lifescan Inc. a division of Johnson & Johnson. Health educator, American Diabetes Association, Arizona affiliate.
What neighborhood do you live in and for how long have you lived there?
I live on the north side of Litchfield Park, on the same street as our mayor and incumbent Ron Clair. I have lived here for 27 years.
I live on Bird Lane in Litchfield Park, the Old Town.
Why did you choose to live here?
I grew up here from the age of 13 in 1978. I chose to return here to raise my own family.
We moved to Litchfield Park from Seattle in 1993 to join a family business. My in-laws lived in Litchfield Park, and we loved the quaint village feel.
What are the three biggest issues of this local election?
Keeping the health and welfare of our citizens and businesses in check.
Developing the City Center project, which is 29 acres of land in the downtown center.
Being fiscally responsible with the city budget, especially in light of the economic challenges that arose with COVID-19 pandemic. The city is partnering with our local businesses to successfully reopen.
1. Are we going to have a real council of diverse minds or the same ol same old, which results in little change or progress? Some change to update infrastructure and safety is paramount.
2. The City Center is looking like a dream, with not very good planning at the current stage. The city should be setting higher standards, but money talks, so who knows what will happen with the current players.
3.The Wigwam: God bless this gem of a place. We need to support it, and I like to say, “As The Wigwam goes, so goes Litchfield Park.”
What experience do you have with managing spending?
Lots of experience managing multimillion-dollar budgets yearly. I have an MBA, the only one I believe who is either on the council or running for council. This is critical to decision making.
I worked for Johnson & Johnson for 10 years in marketing and sales. I successfully managed that budget during my tenure. I was president of the Diabetes Exercise & Sports Association (DESA), which was a diabetes nonprofit, that was solely funded by member dues and sponsorships. I had sole responsibility for this budget. I have served on the Litchfield City Council for the past four years. I have partnered with our mayor and other council members in making fiscally responsible decisions. Consequently our city finances are healthy. We have an outstanding staff in our finance department who keeps us abreast of all the state laws that impact our cities.
What new ideas do you have?
I have served on the city council for the last four years, actively participating in a number of committees. I’m currently involved with the Litchfield Park Historical Society in helping raise money for the new Heritage Center. I am the liaison between the city and the Historical Society working to move the Litchfield Park Historical Museum into Paul Litchfield’s La Loma homestead. I also serve on the marketing committee for the new City Center project.
Let’s look at the current contracts and ask why we are doing things the way we are. Can we save money by not duplicating efforts or doing things the way we’ve always done them but do not make fiscal sense?
What is your track record and style of responding to questions from the public?
I am visible, approachable and willing to speak to any constituent. That is being a public servant. You have to be able to explain why you voted the way you did or you don’t belong there.
This isn’t a private club or something. The residents have a right to know what is being decided by the mayor and council and why they made those decisions. It is frustrating to call City Hall and point out areas of concern in our city and have no one respond. Priorities are those items that we all share together as residents of beautiful Litchfield Park. I don’t believe current or former council (members) should be behaving in such a way that they exclude the people. Transparent local government is essential. I believe in term limits to limit an individual’s influence and power and self-serving reasons. It is about public service, not promoting one’s business.
I think it is important to listen to our constituents. Because I have lived here a long time, I have met a lot of people. I often receive calls and texts from citizens with ideas and questions. I happily act on those ideas and answer their questions by working with the city staff. Many projects in Litchfield Park began because people offered their ideas. We welcome citizen input. My personal style is to get things done by finding the best resources and connecting all the partners. I am proud to be considered a community liaison and activist. I communicate via text, social media and email or by phone. I love serving this community.
What current elected official do you most admire?
I have the utmost respect for Kyrstan Sinema. I believe she is a leader and huge asset to our state. She is known for working in a bipartisan way to get things done. In today’s political climate, bipartisan politics is critical, and as a country we need to return to respectful admonition of all good ideas, regardless of the party.
I admire President Trump for never wavering to do what is right. I also admire Sen. McSally for never giving up and never giving in to criticism.
What historic elected official do you most admire?
I admire President John F. Kennedy, and for many reasons. In a short time, he took us to the Moon, negotiated with Khrushchev to avert a Nuclear war with Russia after the Cuban Missile Crisis, he elevated Irish and Catholics to a whole new level, once looked down upon, and he valued family and strong faith.
I have much admiration for Arizona Sen. John McCain. He embodied courage and leadership. I respect all of his years of service to not only our military but also our government. He was well known for reaching across the aisle and being an independent maverick that accomplished so much, not only for Arizonans but for all Americans.
What is the role of the General Plan goals and policies in your decision making on development proposals?
The priorities would be to continue to market the City Center to developers and interested businesses who will purchase or lease space in this unique planned project. Our goal will be to match these new business partners with our existing downtown commercial and The Wigwam resort to develop a unique space that will be the jewel of the West Side.
I will listen to many, as well as ask many their opinions and formulate plans that reflect the city of Litchfield Park. This has been a weakness for a long time, an unwillingness to plan for the future with concrete ideas. One accomplishes absolutely nothing without first planning effectively for short-term goals as well as long-term goals.
How important is neighborhood safety, livability and compatibly in development proposal decisions?
The perception of our city is changing. We are surrounded by very populated busy cities. We must address safety issues regularly because more crime and more accidents are happening in Litchfield Park. People have a right to know what is happening.
As a council we need to make sure our decisions do not adversely affect the unique village vision of our founder, Paul Litchfield. Keeping the character of Litchfield Park is critical to our community. Our plan for the City Center is to make it unique enough so that business entities will be attracted to this space and will develop a vibrant commercial community within our village. When complete, the City Center will be a place where people will come and appreciate an urban oasis while enjoying a meal, shopping, attending a festival or visiting a business. We want to make sure that all visitors will want to live, work and play in Litchfield Park.
Are you supportive of selling public-owned parks and open space for private development?
Since the city of Litchfield Park is limited in land and open space, I will focus my answer on our City Center project. Between 2015-2017 the city of Litchfield Park purchased 29 acres of empty commercial property in the downtown area. This is the acreage that will become our City Center. As part of the plan, we will be selling and leasing parcels to private businesses that fit our village concept. This is the biggest expansion opportunity our city has had in decades. Because of our size, each decision we make has much more impact than with bigger cities. Once this project is complete, there will be no more commercial property or open space available in Litchfield Park. We will not be selling our parks.
It all depends. I would need more specific information. I love our parks, so they are off the negotiation table with me. Other places do not have what we have, so that makes us unique and creates our identity. Open space is another story, and I would like thoughtful development and careful planning. The pandemic changed everything, and so I believe we are in a completely new place from earlier plans.
Many businesses are going under or will go under in the next six months. This is the economic reality. I am not so sure the City Center as planned should be rushed into development. Will it last and stand the test of time as The Wigwam.
We must partner with many to achieve success. I am willing to do everything possible to make it a success. I would take things a little slower due to COVID-19.
This may not be the time to bring in people all over to shop. We need more restaurants for sure, but will they operate at 50% and how long will we wear masks? I would wait for post-coronavirus to gage the public interest. Timing is everything. No one has a crystal ball.
How do you define integrity?
Doing what you say you will do. Being consistent with everyone you deal with and not just those who can help you in some way. Always doing the right thing even if it is hard.
We have a council and mayor who lead the charge with integrity. Integrity is being honest, trustworthy and moral. This is a critically important trait for a leadership position. I continue to be impressed with the level of integrity and volunteerism in Litchfield Park. Besides the council, we also have many citizens with great credentials and experience who gracefully volunteer and participate on commissions, with festivals and youth activities and so many other things that make our village unique.
Why should someone vote for you?
I have served on the city council for the last four years. Over the last 27 years, I have embraced the community of Litchfield Park. When I decided to run for council in 2016, it was because I was interested in helping mold the “last piece” of Litchfield Park. I now wish to finish this project. As a citizen it is exciting to know what is coming. As a councilperson it is exciting to see the progress, and in spite of the pandemic I know that we will move forward and see the “fruits” of the City Center come to life.
I am very proud of Litchfield Park leadership that encourages public comment and participation. As a council member we represent the voice of the people. I often reach out to the public for opinions on decisions that the council will be making. It is important for me to hear all the pros and cons, as it makes for a more informed decision.
Our existing mayor and council is a great group of hardworking volunteers. Each of us has a variety of work experience, which is valuable to our community. I will finish with some wise words from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
This is my third time running. I grew up here. I value my city and the families who live here. I appreciate our history. I was there for a lot of it. I have a commitment to serving the people of Litchfield Park, and perhaps I may be the leader we need to maneuver our city during a health crisis into a prosperous and quality future for future generations to enjoy. It is easy to give up, but what could and should be the future here is so inspiring to me. I am blessed with a great family, friends and neighbors for over 43 years.