On Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, Mayor Greg Stanton and four members of the Phoenix City Council took their oaths of office, again, in the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix. After the swearing in, each had an opportunity to discuss their vision for the City during their upcoming terms; most of the discussion focused on the economic recovery and development of Phoenix.
Inauguration day in Phoenix was an opportunity for a wide diversity of business, academic and community leaders to network before/after the ceremony. There were plenty of handshakes and hugs among people who had not seen each other since the holidays or last council meeting or community event. Harry Garewal, CEO of Trin and Associates and former CEO of the AZ Hispanic Chamber, and a well-known business leader said, “ I am curious to hear about the inductees’ perspectives and plans to assist our neediest economic areas in Phoenix.”
All of the candidates thanked their spouses, children, and loved ones (e.g., Michael Nowakowski talked about, and to, his 200+ relatives in Spanish) for their support and patience. They discussed their specific priorities. For example, Thelda Williams, District 1, expressed her concerns about transportation, conditions of Phoenix streets, Arizona’s water supply, housing for the homeless, and animal abuse.
But the Council people spent the most time citing specific economic projects that demonstrated the differences between Phoenix today and the inauguration four years ago, at the height of the recession, when as Bill Gates, District 3, said 67% of mortgages were underwater.
Gates recited a litany of new developments on his and all his fellow council people’s districts from Portland on the Park to a new Fry’s Supermarket on Bell Road. Daniel Valenzuela, District 5, celebrated Ceci Melendez and the success of Cake Art Studio, a 2010 start-up, which has grown to six employees. Nowakowski praised the new transit station at Desert Sky Mall.
Stanton spoke last, and detailed many reasons—e.g., trade with Mexico, public transportation, sustainability, 30% crime reduction , pension reform, and reduction in veteran homelessness—to be optimistic about the economic future of Phoenix. He emphasized that Phoenix is known for providing opportunities for everyone willing to work, and for treating everyone with dignity and respect. Stanton summed up the economic and social priorities of the Council and the hopes of the audience that Phoenix politicians are thinking, not of the next election, but of the next generation.