The clock is ticking toward an Aug. 4 election for the mayor of Glendale and three city council seats.
Challenger Michelle Robertson takes on Mayor Jerry Weiers as the top elected official in Glendale.
While councilmen Ray Malnar and Ian Hugh are not opposed, Joyce Clark faces competition for the Yucca District seat, with Bryce Alexander also on the ballot.
July 8 was the first day to begin mailing early ballots.
Glendale City Hall will be an early ballot drop box beginning Monday, July 13. The drop box hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
For voter registration information, visit recorder.maricopa.gov/elections or call 602-506-1511.
The Glendale Star asked Robertson, an educator, and Weiers, Glendale’s mayor since 2013, questions about what they stand for — and why they think they are qualified to run the city.
Please briefly describe your background including any relevant education and work history.
Weiers: Husband, father, grandfather, successful small business owner, heavily involved in a number of charitable causes, motorcycle enthusiast, licensed pilot, former state legislator, Cardinals, Coyotes, Diamondbacks, Suns fan and current mayor of Glendale.
Robertson: In 1987, I graduated from Apollo High School, then I went on to attend Glendale Community College, Arizona State University West and the University of Phoenix. I have built my life around being a servant leader and advocating for Arizona families, education, women’s issues, fair wages and benefits and safe working conditions. In addition to a career in education, I have a background in social services and the medical and behavioral health field.
The skills I’ve gained in my life of public service will transfer well when working with the community transparently to develop great infrastructure, developing and implementing policy, understanding and developing budgets, building strong collaborative partnerships within our community, among councilmembers, and with our neighboring cities to move Glendale forward. I value people and know how to connect with them, build effective teams, and find consensus solutions to difficult problems.
What neighborhood do you live in and for how long have you lived there?
Weiers: We live in the Yucca District and have been there for 23 years.
Robertson: I currently live in the Sahuaro district and have for over six years.
Why did you choose to live here?
Weiers: For my wife and I it has always felt like home.
Robertson: When I was 15 years old, my parents and I moved to Glendale. We had several choices of places to move to, and when my parents asked for my input I didn’t hesitate when choosing Glendale. I love the small town feel Glendale still has and our historic areas. Our residents and businesses foster a real sense of community and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
What are the three biggest issues of this local election?
Weiers: I started answering the question on the basis of what were the three biggest issues facing Glendale, but you are asking me what the three biggest issues are in this election. That’s actually a different question. Because while issues like our economic recovery, maintaining our city’s finances, and improving city services and infrastructure are always going to be big issues that face cities like ours, the biggest issues in this election are experience, integrity and the overall direction of Glendale.
My opponent has spent most of the last five years running for county school superintendent, until switching at the last moment to wanting to run an entire city of 250,000 people, in spite of having no relevant experience whatsoever. As we recover from the COVID-19 hit, Glendale benefits greatly from having experience at the helm. We were the Valley’s hottest economy before the virus hit because of the good things we were doing -- and we continue to do them even as we recover.
I think integrity matters because while my opponent has attacked me since before she even entered the race, she got on the ballot by hiring felons and forgers to go door to door during the pandemic, she deleted all of her social media posts so voters would not get to see her enthusiastic support for the #Resist movement, Black Lives Matter, Elizabeth Warren for President, etc.
I respect everyone’s opinions, positions, and beliefs, and none of us should be ashamed of them or hide them. Especially from people you are asking for trust from. And then of course the overall direction of Glendale matters hugely to the quality of city we’re going to have. The out-of-town unions that are spending unbelievable amounts of money to try to buy this office for Michelle used to run the city. And I know that because I had to clean up the mess they left behind after I first got elected. There is a huge difference between a city facing bankruptcy, like Glendale used to, and the Glendale of today that has a balanced budget and a rainy-day fund.
My opponent wants to take Glendale back to how things were, and I want to keep Glendale moving forward in a positive direction. So those are the most important issues in this election.
Robertson: The need for transparency and ethics in the mayor’s office is one of the main reasons I entered the race. When elected mayor, I will restore the city’s internal, independent investigations office and its oversight of contracts. Proper use of taxpayer dollars and fair treatment of city contracts must be above board. The mayor, city council members and city manager must honor and follow the processes in place decided by the voters. The city and council must account for the utilization of tax dollars, use and sale of city property, resources and incurring debt.
Being engaged, accessible and listening to all residents and our businesses is a second big issue. The residents of Glendale need leadership that is in touch with the needs and voices of the community. A mayor who is going to address serious social and economic issues, such as homelessness, employment opportunities, affordable housing and the need of impactful social services for our local community. Furthermore, the mayor must work collaboratively with the entire community to create a coherent vision for growth and our future.
Our fire and police call times are some of the longest, and the data we have does not paint a full picture because the call times are tracked from when the calls are dispatched, not when they are received. We need more public safety personnel; we are currently operating far below recommended staffing numbers. The city of Glendale has one of the highest crime rates in the state. This is not because our public safety employees aren’t doing their jobs, it’s because the current mayor hasn’t taken their needs seriously. Glendale firefighters and police officers are serving more people with less resources and personnel than their counterparts in comparative cities.
What experience do you have
with managing spending?
Weiers: I did so for several decades as a small business owner, of course at the state level we were dealing with a state budget that was anywhere from $8 billion to $10 billion a year. And we have fixed Glendale’s spending problems over the last several years as well. So it is fair to say that I have a tremendous amount of experience with managing spending and doing so in a way that protects the taxpayers.
Robertson: As president, vice president and negotiation chair of the Cartwright Elementary School Association I had to gain detailed understanding of school funding and the district budget and would participate in discussions and decisions of allocations of expenditures related to various funds. I served as the co-chair of the Cartwright District Override Committee several times and in this role I had to look at the override budget revenue and allocation of those funds, hence knowing the budget implications if the override did or did not pass.
Additionally, I oversaw the association budget. I have had to work with budgets in other funding budgets in professional capacities related to authorization of care and allocation of resources. Having been a small business owner I would oversee the operations budget and have provided consultation services to other businesses to help them succeed and expand.
What new ideas do you have?
Weiers: They aren’t new ideas so much as ongoing projects that I look forward to completing. We are more than halfway done with repairing or repaving our city’s roads. The city has approximately 11 million square feet of commercial space and we recently approved another 20 million square feet of commercial space, so those are processes that need to be completed. We also have phenomenal opportunities as we make the most of our Loop 303 access and the fact that Glendale is a great city to do business with and in.
Our Glendale Works program is new and has been really successful. We are helping our homeless population, cleaning up Glendale, saving the taxpayers money and putting people back to work.
Robertson: The $45 million Training Center (GRPSTC) opened in April of 2007. This state-of-the art facility was intended to train new police recruits and continuing education classes for GPD. This facility could host and train other West Valley agencies and bring in additional revenue in the process to support a training staff. I want to bring our recruits and officers back to GRPSTC, invest in their training and promote GRPSTC as the true, first rate, regional facility that it is.
I believe that City Hall must operate with ethics and openness — our residents deserve transparency in how their tax dollars are being utilized and should have a voice in the decisions that affect them now and in the future. We hear time and time again that our residents are unaware of what Glendale is doing to move us forward and the city does not provide them with answers if they reach out with questions. As mayor, I would hold regular community events in each district of Glendale so residents can share their thoughts. I will ensure the communication and transparency guidelines are expanded to ensure our residents know exactly where their tax dollars are being spent. Too often residents are looking online and can’t find the answers they are seeking.
Glendale must work closely with our local businesses and neighborhoods. Our downtown and historic areas are the cornerstone of our community and they have been struggling. I will partner with our local businesses so Glendale has a vibrant local economy. We can support them by building upon our city events, keeping City Hall downtown, and increasing tourism. Glendale must also make it easier to do business in the city. We should streamline our permitting process, be more transparent in awarding public contracts and be available to assist businesses that want to be in Glendale.
What is your track record and
style of responding to questions from the public?
Weiers: I’m a people person and I think the best part of the job is just being out there talking to and listening to the people of Glendale. Most people who know me have met me at a public event, or a charity event, or a blood drive, or something like that, where we are trying to get the community engaged. But whether it’s messages on Facebook or calls to the office, I like to be as responsive as time permits.
Robertson: I have always been open to and prompt with responding to the questions, whether as a candidate, union official, or as a community leader and I will continue that track record as mayor. I am running to be a voice for our residents, to ensure they are listened to and their needs are heard at a city-level. I am committed to being fully engaged with residents and our communities and welcome any one to reach out to me with questions or concerns.
See additional questions and council candidates in next week’s issue.