Since 2007, I have been a guest commentator for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. During those 5-plus years, I have been one of the voices in the Greater Phoenix Metro to “carry the water” for progressive thought.
Together, we have made substantial progress during that time frame, but clearly not enough to change the lineup at the Legislature or the top executive positions in state government. I feel that the time is right for me to set up an exploratory campaign committee to assess my chances at becoming a member of the state Legislature from Legislative District 17 in Chandler.
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I was the mayor of Fountain Hills. Many of the public policies that were put into play while I was mayor are still in place today. Those accomplishments include increasing the local sales tax by 1 percent, which proved critical in addressing a serious revenue shortfall in light of the previous mayor and Town Council voting to approve unfunded mandates. Furthermore, we cut government spending by nearly 25 percent in one sweep in order to balance a budget that was hemorrhaging red. I personally presided over the mitigation of three major lawsuits against the town regarding fire and emergency services. I was the deciding vote to put to rest the issue of the town creating it’s own police department that ultimately the community simply could not afford. As mayor, I was a tireless advocate of business-friendly economic development efforts, which included a Holiday Inn Express Hotel in downtown Fountain Hills, multiple custom home subdivisions, a couple of commercial projects along Shea Boulevard and an effort to attract a movie theater, which is finally coming to fruition 10 years later.
Former Town Manager Tim Pickering remarked on my last day in office: “You were the best mayor I have ever worked with.” As recently as last month, former Republican Councilman Rick Melendez stated that I was “the best mayor Fountain Hills has ever had.” How many of you remember that I was endorsed by former Republican mayors Keno Hawker of Mesa and Steve Berman of Gilbert, as well as the Democratic mayor of Litchfield Park, not-to-mention my endorsement by then and current Republican City Councilman Robert Littlefield of Scottsdale? I thoroughly enjoyed my short tenure as mayor and wish the Town of Fountain Hills the very best in the coming years.
Legislative District 17 is primarily composed of the city of Chandler, which is a thriving community of close to a quarter-million people and is well known for its cultural diversity, its tolerance, its schools and its economic vitality. My wife and two children have lived in Chandler since 2005. I have lived in the Phoenix metro area for 35 years. Our real estate company is located in downtown Chandler. I have served as the president of our HOA for the past three years. My most recent venture into politics was in 2009-2010 when I served as the campaign manager for Chandler City Councilman Matt Orlando. He won.
If I were to run in the 2014 Democratic primary for the statehouse, my focus would primarily be on education, economic development, fiscal responsibility and bringing a voice of moderation, reason and mutual respect to the political discussion. During my adult life I have had a unique ability to reach out across the partisan divide and work with and befriend Republicans. It has a lot to do with my personality and business background. I strongly believe that all budgets must be balanced, all budget deficits must be eventually retired, that government spending must be controlled, that capitalism is good and small business remains the baseline creator of jobs in the economy. It is my belief that voters from both sides of the partisan divide are looking for leaders who can reach out and form bi-partisan coalitions to address the great issues of our time. They are “fatigued” by the gridlock brought on by unwavering commitment to ideology. It’s time to bring back mutual respect to the political discussion. Moderation, compromise and respect. Key words for a positive future.
As a result of my decision to form this exploratory campaign committee, this will be my last word as a guest commentator in this newspaper. It is my belief that it would be wrong to continue writing commentaries while at the same time pursuing a possible run for elected office. I would like to thank the managing editor of the Ahwatukee Foothills News for offering me the opportunity to bring alternative thought to this newspaper. And with that, you have read my last words.
• Jon Beydler is the former mayor of Fountain Hills. He lives in south Chandler.