As the news broke that the budget for the city of Phoenix would not be as large as officials had hoped, citizens gathered Tuesday morning at a “Coffee with the Mayor” event at The Farm at South Mountain near 32nd Street and Southern Avenue to express their concerns and ask questions of Mayor Greg Stanton and District 8 Councilwoman Kate Gallego.
Stanton said he was eager to hear Phoenix city planners outline the direction they recommend in light of budget shortfalls and reminded constituents that, as long as he is mayor, the budget process will be an open one.
“Here in Phoenix has been the slowest economic recovery in history,” Stanton said. He promised that he and Gallego are working with other City Council members to smooth over the rises and falls sustained along the road to economic recovery in recent years.
Part of that recovery is the partnership Phoenix is working on in line with its plan to establish a trade office in Mexico City. The plan involves potentially working with the state of Arizona and the city of Tucson, among others, to begin trading in products and labor with similar partners in Mexico. Stanton said the revenue and job creation possible in a partnership with new interests south of the border is a major interest for the city.
Major sporting events are a large part of the city’s plan for economic stimulus. Aside from the Super Bowl next year and the NCAA Football Championship (in Glendale) the year after, Stanton said the city is also vying to host the NBA Final Four as well as the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in the near future.
Stanton also touted the success of his program to aid homeless veterans. Gallego, whose district is home to many of the veteran housing efforts, said the program had achieved its goal of “a bed for every homeless veteran in Phoenix.”
Stanton and Gallego both addressed public transportation expansion plans. From the bike share program to light rail extensions, both spoke on the importance of increasing support and options for difference modes of transport in the Valley.
Gallego, after three weeks in office, has been heralded as a people’s champion and as very focused on jobs as well as public transportation, according to the mayor. After suffering a seizure in December, Gallego has been forced to use public transportation in lieu of driving; an experience she said has made her even more aware of problems in the transportation system than before.
Stanton’s next coffee event will be at 8 a.m. on Feb. 5 at the Fraternal Order of Police — Phoenix Lodge 2, 12851 N. 19 Ave. in Phoenix.
• Trevor Godfrey is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.