The deadline is nearing: In the Glendale city election Aug. 4, challenger Michelle Robertson takes on Mayor Jerry Weiers as the city’s top elected leader.
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.
The first portion of questions and answers ran in the Glendale Star July 16. Here is the second part of the questions and their answers:
How do you define integrity?
Robertson: Being a person of integrity means that you take responsibility for your actions, you listen and give others the benefit of the doubt, act with respect, choose to be honest and put others’ needs above your own. Practice humility.
Weiers: Keeping my word. And being true to myself and others.
How important is neighborhood safety, livability and compatibility in development proposal decisions?
Robertson: Safety and quality of life should be Glendale’s top priorities. Currently Glendale has one of the highest crime rates. Our fire and police departments are stretched thin and not funded at recommended levels, leaving public safety understaffed, underequipped and underfunded. I will bring staffing up to recommended levels so our police officers and firefighters have the staffing need to keep us safe. Glendale must do more to improve residents’ quality of life. We can do this by improving city services—such as street and park maintenance—and offering more community resources—libraries, after-school programs, community events, and promoting neighborhood associations. Our residents’ safety and welfare comes first.
Weiers: Those are very important considerations. Safety is obviously our top focus. We spend two-thirds of our city budget on public safety, and our police and fire have some of the best contracts in the state of Arizona. Livability of course is something we are looking for all over the city. And I think compatibility matters because anytime you put something new into an area where something else already exists, you want the sum of the parts to be greater than the whole. And you can’t do that if you are forcing a round peg through a square hole.
What is the role of the Glendale General Plan goals and policies in your decision making on development proposals?
Weiers: For those who don’t know, it is our long-term vision for the city—so much of what we do or decisions that impact us immediately or in the short term—and we want to make sure that the decisions we make also fit a long-term vision. Of course the process is not perfect, because it is nearly impossible to predict what will happen over a 10-year period, but it is still a valuable part of the process.
Robertson: The Glendale City General Plan provides our vision and policies that determine how our city will grow and develop. The city of Glendale’s General Plan is a long-range comprehensive plan that guides development. As mayor, I am responsible to refer to the General Plan and work with all stakeholders to cultivate that vision of growth that will meet the needs of residents and help new and existing businesses succeed.
Are you supportive of selling public-owned parks and open space for private development?
Weiers: Over the last several years these things come forward and we always do our due diligence to see what would be in the best interests of the city. My general preference is to keep as much of what we have as possible unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
Robertson: I am not. The residents of Glendale want us to keep and improve what parks and open space we already have. The voters have been very clear they do not want the city to sell off our parks and land for new developments. I am supportive of development, but parks are important to the quality of life of a community, providing a place for residents to relax, hold events and letting residents enjoy recreational activities. We need to honor the voice of our residents.
What current elected official do you most admire?
Weiers: I know a lot of them as you can imagine, so I’m not going to pick one because I will hurt a lot of feelings with whoever I leave off. But the qualities I admire most aren’t always ideological. I most appreciate elected officials who truly care about the work and the people that they serve. There are a fair number of people who are attracted to politics for less-than-noble purposes. They serve special-interest groups, they seek personal fame or fortune, or they are trying to feed their own egos or ambitions. I like the elected officials who are the opposite of all of that.
Robertson: (no answer)
What historic elected official do you most admire?
Robertson: (no answer)
Weiers: For me it was Reagan because he took over when America was very much at a low point, and he restored it to a very high point, through force of will, personality and an unshakable belief in America, Americans and our capability for exceptionalism.
Why should someone vote for you?
Weiers: Experience: Obviously I’ve been mayor and appreciate the recognition we’ve received as a city, but several decades as a small-business owner, as an activist for charitable causes, and some time in the Legislature gives me a very broad skill set.
Deep community roots: I’ve spent decades here, working in the community and with local charities like Shriners, food banks, women’s shelters and others. When you help open a place for kids to go and be safe after school, the whole city doesn’t notice it or even know about it, but it makes a huge difference to that neighborhood and to those families.
I’m willing to work with everyone: We’ve got a very open and transparent government in Glendale. If you watch the council meetings you’ll see we’re seven really different people, but I’ve been endorsed by almost everyone on the council because they know that even when we disagree, we’re all trying to do what’s best for the city. We’ve also done amazing things with community groups, churches, small businesses and our chamber of commerce.
My strong government connections are great for Glendale because I meet with legislators, our federal delegation, our governor and even the president of the United States (twice) to talk about issues that matter to Glendale. That makes a huge difference when we talk about issues like infrastructure; public safety; dealing with the COVID-19 crisis; or attracting major events like Mecum Auto Auctions, the NCAA National Championship and the Super Bowl.
Commitment: My opponent tells people she will keep her 9-5 job in her grade school and the second salary if she’s elected. I think that’s nuts. You can’t do this job on nights and weekends, and I can’t imagine giving anything less than 100% to this job. We’re a city of 250,000 people, we pay for a full-time mayor and Glendale deserves a full-time mayor.
Robertson: My decision to run wasn’t about a political career or a personal agenda. My decision to run was and is about doing what’s good for Glendale, and that means all of our community!
It’s about engaging our residents and hearing their voices, revitalizing our downtown, supporting our businesses, having fiscal responsibility and accountability of utilization of tax dollars, safer neighborhoods, and looking out for the welfare of all of our residents and city employees.
Working together we can move Glendale forward, making it a better place to live and work!