It has been the highest honor of my life to represent the people of Phoenix and City Council District 5 over the last six years.
While there is still plenty of work to do to keep Phoenix moving forward, we have accomplished a great deal. Hundreds of hours of community meetings where you raised issues and we worked on solutions together. It takes leadership and a vision to bring people together to make our city safe, strong, and healthy. And it takes more than one person to build the bridges which lead to a bettertomorrow.
Keeping Phoenix Residents Safe
As a professional First Responder myself, I have made the safety of our citizens a priority during my tenure at City Hall because I know that is also YOUR priority.
Working together with your input in our budget process that includes dozens of community meetings each year, we have made public safety the focus it needs and deserves to be.
When I joined the Council, a city-wide freeze on the hiring of new police officers was in place. Even though our city continued to grow, we weren’t hiring new police officers. With your support, we worked to reprioritize the budget. And we pursed grants at the Federal level, such as a COPS grant and a SAFER grant used to hire dozens of police officers and 50 additional firefighters. Within months of joining the Council, we were able to lift the hiring freeze. Since 2014, every city budget provided for the recruitment of new police officers. The goal is a thousand new police officers by 2020.
When it comes to public safety, it’s not all about dollars. Community policing programs are important too. For example, when I joined the Council in 2012, I immediately embarked on an effort to forge a partnership between Grand Canyon University, the local community, and the Phoenix Police Department. The result – a 5-year crime safety initiative which decreased crime in the neighborhoods surrounding the University. The results are so encouraging that the Canyon Corridor Crime Safety Initiative has been extended through 2020. Working together, Grand Canyon University and the Phoenix Police Department decreased crime by 30% while also raising property values by 30% in the neighborhood surrounding the university.
There is no responsibility of government that is greater than keeping us safe.
Together, we have fulfilled that responsibility.
Strengthening Our Neighborhoods
We have worked together to strengthen and revitalize our neighborhoods. But here again, I know our work is not done.
Approximately 60-miles of streets in District 5 are being repaved or planning is in place to have it done. Later this summer, a stretch of 107th Avenue from Indian School Road to Camelback road will start the process to be widened. A $3-million project.
Our collective efforts to advocate for changes to citywide bus service which significantly extended the reach of existing routes and added two new north-south routes in West Phoenix. In doing so we made the trip to school, work, and shopping much more convenient for thousands of our neighbors.
Working directly with Maryvale residents, we launched the Maryvale Community Connection in 2016. We brought community, business, and city agencies together on issues of public safety, economic development, andneighborhood revitalization.
Speaking of neighborhood revitalization, there is perhaps no better example than 19 North. This vital stretch of 19th Avenue is the focus of a collaborative effort between the City and community leaders. I have had the privilege of being a part of the effort, which has led to a transformation with new businesses established and housing constructed that is bringing life back to a once decaying area.
Admittedly, there are areas in our district still challenged by the stresses of our society. Homelessness is one of those stresses. We as a city are committed to dealing with it responsibly. I joined the Mayor and Council colleagues to develop housing for our homeless Veterans. These enclaves give them easy access to social agencies which assist in job training and veteran benefits. In the creation of PHX C.A.R.E.S., a city-managed outreach program now dispatches teams out across the city to build a rapport and trust with people on the street. The city works to encourage them to accept the services and resources that are offered to help end their homelessness.
In response to the concerns of neighborhood leaders, I utilized my role as a member of the Council’s Parks Subcommittee to advocate for the hiring of 22 additional Park Rangers. Their job description has evolved from maintaining trails, providing natural resource management and protection to helping the homeless. The Rangers are often the first city employees to encounter them. Sixteen of those new rangers began working our parks and preserves in May of this year.
For Phoenix to remain the vibrant and strong city we want, we must have strong neighborhoods. After all, our neighborhoods are we are raising our children, and where they go to school and play. It is where we work, or want others to work in successful businesses that meet our needs and that add to our tax base. It’s our refuge. It is where we should feel the safest. Our neighborhoods are our home. For many of us, our home is the largest single investment we will make in our lifetime.
Together, we have worked to make and keep our neighborhoods strong. But that work must continue.
There is universal agreement that to keep Phoenix moving ahead, we need good, safe schools. Most people say schools aren’t a city responsibility. But I know we all have a stake in good schools and the trained workforce they provide and that we need to attract companies with good paying jobs and expand our tax base.
That’s why last Fall, I joined with community neighborhood leaders to call for – and the voters supported – additional funding for nine school districts in Phoenix.
And to ensure those funds were spent wisely, and explore other ways mutually beneficial partnerships can be formed between our schools and city government, I have built relationships with principals, teachers, and parents throughout District 5 in order to further empower their students and become more active community members. One of the outcomes – additional school resource officers that serve to keep our schools and students safe.
Giving our children the tools to succeed in a job market much different than the one we entered not so long ago. I am especially proud of #codePHX, a public-private partnership I created that teaches free computer coding and robotics at the city of Phoenix neighborhood libraries and community centers to children from ages 4 to 17. Learning these skills levels the playing field for every student as they advance through school while preparing the workforce strong and prosperous neighborhoods will need in the future.
Jobs and Building our Economy
One of my great privileges in City Hall has been serving as Chairman of the Downtown, Aviation Economy and Innovation Subcommittee – the Council’s jobs and economic development arm. Working with my colleagues and community and business leaders, we have helped shape the economic future of Phoenix.
From the first day I assumed office, I committed to helping grow and diversify our economy by recognizing innovation and cultivating an environment where entrepreneurs can succeed. The results are impressive.
The transformation of downtown Phoenix over the last six years is breathtaking. Our city is truly the jewel of the southwest.
Phoenix is now among the national leaders when it comes to tech growth, startups and job growth in the finance industry. Our partnerships with Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, and the University of Arizona are creating a talent pool of young professionals excelling in bio-engineering, medicine, cyber security and tech innovation. We have put into place the foundation for an economic future we can all be part of.
A major reason for our economic development success is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The Airport and the Sky Harbor Center located next to it has grown and now employs more than 57,000 people. But the regional impact of Sky Harbor is where its true value can be measured. The total economic impact estimated for visitors using Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in fiscalyear 2016 was $13.7 billion, supporting a total of 123,972 jobs in the regional economy, with a payroll of $5.1 billion. Economic activity at the Sky Harbor Center is estimated to be $2 billion. When you include indirect spending, the number doubles to $4.4 billion.
A truly prosperous and sustainable city is one in which workers have access to good-paying jobs. Our successful economic development and job creation strategies are major reasons why Phoenix continues to move forward and in a positive way.
Before you can move forward, it is often wise to stop what you’re doing. Take a minute to contemplate what you have done, what you still need to do. My time as your District 5 City Councilman is over. But the mission of bringing people together to solve problems and move Phoenix forward will continue.
Thank you for your belief in me. I am honored and humbled to have served you.
Daniel Valenzuela, Councilman
City of Phoenix, District 5