This year’s Glendale election ballot features battles for mayor, with Michelle Robertson challenging incumbent Jerry Weiers, and city council, with Yucca District representative Joyce Clark facing a challenge from Bryce Alexander.
Two other council seats are up for election, but councilmen Ray Malnar and Ian Hugh are not opposed.
The Glendale Star asked city council candidates about their backgrounds, priorities and why they think they are qualified to run the city.
Clark and Alexander replied.
Please briefly describe your background including any relevant education and work history.
Joyce Clark: Born in New Jersey. Glendale and Yucca district resident for 52 years. Married. Three adult children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Graduated from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland with a dual B.A. in U.S. History and English. Have completed some post-graduate courses. High school teacher for six years. Owner and co-founder of the Craftmen’s Gallery located at Heritage Square, Phoenix, for 10 years (1985-1995).
Bryce Alexander: U.S. Army veteran, Bachelor of Arts with dual concentration in Ministry and Bible & Theology. I am the retired network security architect for a major investment and mutual fund company, author, co-author, and editor of several computer-related security books. I bring to the table a keen intellect that is trained in complex system analysis and problem solving. This skills and ability to examine and analyze the details of highly complex systems is not unique to the computer industry but is an analytical approach applicable to any complex issue including government.
I have served on the board of directors for Silent Witness, been involved with Downtown Glendale beautification and strategic planning with the Glendale Chamber of Commerce and owned an art gallery in Downtown Glendale as a small businessman.
What neighborhood do you live in and for how long have you lived there?
Bryce Alexander: I live in the Emerald Point neighborhood within the Yucca District. I have lived in this current home for 22 years and in the Glendale area for 40 years.
Joyce Clark: For over 30 years our family lived in the O’Neil Ranch neighborhood in the Yucca District. We moved to our present home west of 83rd Avenue, north of Bethany Home Road, also in the Yucca District, about 20 years ago to accommodate my becoming caretaker of my parents (now both deceased).
Why did you choose to live here?
Joyce Clark: I chose to live in Glendale because I had relatives living nearby.
Bryce Alexander: I chose to live here based on the growth that Glendale was experiencing at the time, the plans that both Glendale and Maricopa had at the time, including plans for the Loop 101 and another highway alignment that was since abandoned. It was clear then that the area had wonderful promise as a desirable place to raise my family.
What are the three biggest issues of this local election?
Bryce Alexander: Glendale has been growing a negative reputation across the Valley, the media reporters rarely speak of the city in positive terms, local media has taken aim at criticizing the way our city programs have been run, highlighting growing controversy, and we have seen a growth in both urban decay and in the crime rates.
The top three issues I see are: First and most important, the growth in crime in our community. The city of Glendale has one of the highest crime rates in the area, and the entire city of Glendale has surpassed Maryvale in the crimes reported per 1,000 people. Not every area of Glendale has been equally impacted by crime, but it has built a reputation of fear that has discouraged some people from going to Glendale for events and shopping.
The second issue of the negative reputation is in urban decay and how the city appears to visitors as they drive through major east/west corridors like Northern Avenue, Glendale Avenue, Bethany Home Road and Camelback Road. Corridors taken by our visitors to sporting activities. The lack of curb appeal adds to the negative perception of the city. This increases the urban decay when people see those areas as an area where they would not want to live. The poor repair of amenities, like parks and other green areas, is included in that negative reputation; we need to do a better job in maintaining our visible infrastructure, roads and right-of-way landscaping.
The third issue contributing to the poor reputation the city has gained is in the appearance of questionable practices that appear from the outside to be unethical or even corrupt. Decisions like selling a downtown building without an open bid, awarding contracts to relatives or friends without disclosure, selling the Glen Lakes golf course without reasonable public input, and most recently questions over the award of the Christmas lighting request for proposal (RFP). I am not saying that any of these were handled improperly, rather I am saying that we have multiple incidents that raise serious questions around transparency and ethics of the city staff. These are questions that should never have to be asked of our government, and transparency with ethical policies would reduce or eliminate those questions.
Joyce Clark: No tax increases.
Continuation of the residential street repair program.
Implementation of a major park restoration program.
What experience do you have with managing spending?
Joyce Clark: My experience spans decision and policy making for Glendale’s annual budget for nearly 20 years. I also possess 10 years of experience in managing spending for a small business.
Bryce Alexander: I have managed multimillion-dollar projects involving products, materials and personnel spread across multiple states. In every case I took pride in managing those projects to an on-time and an at- or under-budget completion. Such success requires attention to detail.
What new ideas do you have?
Joyce Clark: I’d like to pursue some kind of curb on state-mandated legislation that has resulted in excesses in the individual use of illegal fireworks.
Pursuit of a stronger city policy that rests on the principle of “equity” not “equality” enabling the city to provide greater focus on underserved neighborhoods.
Development of a public-private partnership for the creation of a business incubator that encourages and complements the major business clusters located in Glendale.
Bryce Alexander: Many of the issues that have been hurting the city are able to be solved with an understanding of the underlying problems that raise these issues to the top. To repair the reputation of our police we need to better fund strategic areas of the police, and to focus the efforts in areas that are proven to reduce crime. With reduced crime, the ability of the police to function more efficiently becomes far more effective and improves our desirability to live in the Glendale area as a safe place. Our good officers need to feel empowered and rewarded for the positive things they do for the community.
We need to reduce sales taxes. Historical tax reductions when at or near the highest tax levels have always stimulated the economy, and Glendale is higher in both sales tax (highest rate) and near the highest in property tax. We need a stimulus that attracts new businesses and homeowners, and reducing the tax rates could be such an attractive stimulus that increases the tax base, reducing the need for higher tax rates.
Most of all the city needs to campaign for and advocate for itself by examining how it promotes our uniqueness and highlights the events and businesses that bring people to Glendale. The need to restore and overcome a poor reputation is critical. To replace that poor reputation with a positive and desirable description of itself would aid in repairing our reputation in the public mind. People respond in a positive way when they have something.
What is your track record and style of responding to questions from the public?
Bryce Alexander: I do not claim to be a refined orator, I have gained quite a bit of experience giving sermons as a pastor, and I am comfortable with public speaking. I seek honesty as my guiding principle in my public speaking, which, sadly, isn’t always the most popular thing to do in this era of political spin and division.
Joyce Clark: I have an extensive record of accessibility. People contact or text my cell (602-320-3422) and I usually respond within 24 hours; or email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. I publish a weekly digital e-newsletter, hold twice yearly districtwide meetings, meet with HOA and neighborhood groups when invited, and mail a district newsletter to all 11,000 households in my district twice a year. I communicate frequently on social media such as Facebook, NextDoor and Twitter. I publish a blog on Glendale’s issues at joyceclarkunfiltered.com.
What current elected official do you most admire?
Joyce Clark: Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina because of his efforts to bring both sides together on a Police Reform bill.
Bryce Alexander: Susan Collins.
What historic elected official do you most admire?
Bryce Alexander: Jimmy Carter.
Joyce Clark: President John F. Kennedy and his call to action with, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
What is the role of the General Plan goals and policies in your decision making on development proposals?
Joyce Clark: I view the General Plan goals and policies as a blueprint for our city. However, it is created at a fixed point in time and its relevance may diminish over time. It should be viewed in that context. Just as a house’s blueprint may have to be adjusted to meet current construction conditions, so too, the General Plan goals and policies may have to be considered as advisory and adjusted to meet current conditions within the city.
Bryce Alexander: I would always be alert for appropriate land use. That any growth be compatible with existing features of the community. That there be appropriate buffering zones between types and densities of zoning and that common areas and infrastructure are appropriate for maintaining a desirable place to work, live and play. A healthy General Plan needs to focus on the vision of a city where people want to spend their money, and those general statements need to be a guiding principle for the development of that plan.
How important is neighborhood safety, livability and compatibility in development proposal decisions?
Bryce Alexander: These are right at the top of my list of issues. While I do applaud the efforts to bring in the industries that create new jobs, it is equally important to ensure that we are able to retain the holders of those jobs by ensuring our city is a safe and comfortable place to live. I am opposed to the idea of waiting to build out our public safety facilities until they become necessary and relying on neighboring communities to honor mutual aid agreements in order to protect the safety and property of the new growth. The city should be proactive in this role; if the city is not willing to commit itself fully in the new endeavors, the city should not be in the expansion business until they are ready to demonstrate that full commitment.
Joyce Clark: Creating a holistic neighborhood is very important for our city and is always a part of my decision-making process when considering the viability of a development proposal.
Are you supportive of selling public-owned parks and open space for private development?
Joyce Clark: Generally, no, but there may be compelling reasons for the city to do so occasionally. I think it’s a situational decision that must be made with careful consideration of all factors while keeping the competing principles of taxpayer cost vs. loss of an amenity in mind.
Bryce Alexander: While it is impossible to say I would never be supportive, I am strongly opposed and would not vote for deleting a public-owned park or open space, even if it is poorly used by the public, until we have examined every available option, such as repurposing. Examples of repurposing include shifting a golf course to a public park or perhaps building out a community center on the property. Selling should be the last possible option and only done with public support. This is one example where decisions like this raise questions about the ethics and motivation of such attempts to sell city-owned amenities.
How do you define integrity?
Bryce Alexander: Integrity is being open, honest and consistent in everything we do. It is about doing the right thing even in the face of adversity. As Maya Angelou once wrote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” A person with integrity will be remembered for the positive things they do.
Joyce Clark: Integrity to me means being honest and living by a strong set of moral principles and values.
Why should someone vote for you?
Joyce Clark: I love Glendale and the people of Glendale. I am proud that our residents reflect the diversity found throughout our country. I love serving my constituents, and I am good at it. I am open, honest and fiercely committed to improving the lives of all residents and having made Glendale better when my service ends. I am a proven leader with the experience, tenacity and time to do the job, and it has been my honor and privilege to have done so thus far.
Bryce Alexander: There are times when we need fresh blood and new eyes, new approaches on any situation. It is one of the reasons that we have term limits. However, that alone is not enough. I am a person who is able to see not only how great Glendale has been but how great it can be again. Even with our aging neighborhoods we do not need to accept the way things are as a natural progression of age. I have a vision for Glendale that doesn’t abandon the old in favor of the new; instead, it is time to quit being nose blind to the things that led to high crime and continued high taxes, a vision to embrace the things that not only continue the new growth and jobs but also revitalize our communities so that we will shine when the world comes to visit our city during events like the Super Bowl.
We don’t need to make the big changes alone; we can also make several small changes that have a big impact.
Glendale City Hall is an early ballot drop box. The drop box hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The deadline to mail ballots is July 29. For voter registration information and polling locations, visit recorder.maricopa.gov/elections or call 602-506-1511.