Fewer than 35 people attended the City Council candidate mixer Aug. 15 at Rio Vista Recreation Center. But each candidate who attended received his or her six minutes of fame and gave biographies, accomplishment summaries and visions for the future of the city.
Vice Mayor and Palo Verde Council District Councilmember Michael Finn’s name was the first drawn out of a basket. He said he appreciated the confidence from voters for the fact he is running for re-election unopposed. He gave a quick presentation of his background, starting with a 12-year stint at UPS, then employment with US Airways, then chief financial officer at Peoria Unified School District. In addition to serving as a councilmember, Finn holds a full-time job with Pueblo Mechanical Control, a commercial HVAC company.
Finn said he will continue to make sure infill projects in his district uphold property values. He said his two main goals will continue to ensure Peoria is a great city to work, play and live in, and also to bring the right businesses to the city. Finn said he a big supporter of public safety to keep Peoria residents safe, and also supports the city’s efforts to expand and maintain amenities.
He complimented city staff, which he said works really well with the council.
Mayor Pro Tem and Acacia Council District Councilmember Vicki Hunt told the luncheon guests she has been a member of Peoria Chamber of Commerce for 20 years, believes in it because it believes in supporting people. She then gave a brief history of her family and its roots in the West Valley. She said her grandparents came to Arizona in 1911.
She started teaching at Dysart School District at the age of 21. She then moved to the Peoria Unified School District, where she retired in 2000.
In 1998, Hunt and her husband, Tom, bought the Saliba home on Monroe Street and turned it into a bed and breakfast. That was when she learned about how the city works, she said.
Hunt said she has “in the trenches” experience, is passionate and won’t let something go, “like a bulldog.” She said she has a heart for public service, and there are three important things in her life: “my husband, dog and council.”
She said she is a 22-year resident of Old Town and feels her actions are largely responsible for getting rid of dangerous structures downtown. She said she is working on bringing economic development into Old Town.
Randal Rains is a candidate in the Pine Council District. He has 35 years of business experience in the West Valley. He is in the grocery business and is an accounting clerk for Albertson’s and Safeway. He said he services more than 2,000 stores, and is just an average citizen.
If elected, Rains said he would relay construction updates to residents on the Northern Parkway project. He said he would also address the property management laws in Arizona. He said 9,000 homeowners’ associations are in the state but few regulations exist for oversight.
He said he is in favor of citizen representation. He gave as his idea of a good citizen representative a teacher — Mr. Sanders — during his sophomore year at an inner-city school in Phoenix.
Rains said he and his son decided to test the citizen representation issue “and I would run for council.”
He went through historical teachings about citizen representation before deciding “I will get involved, I will run for public office.”
Rains said he believed he has won before the first ballot is cast.
“I live in a great city in the greatest country on earth,” he said.
Pine Council District Councilmember Carlo Leone is running for re-election, and once he stood in front of the luncheon attendees, he introduced his wife, Joanne. The Leones have been married 63 years; and have five children, 13 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
Leone retired as a union representative, where he said he represented 10,000 people from Arizona, Utah and Nevada.
Addressing the streets, sidewalks and right-of-way landscaping in Pine, Leone said maintenance workers are doing a good job in the streets, that all similar work is determined in the city budget, and projects are slated for 103rd and Olive avenues, with Suncliff streets scheduled for 2020.
“It’s important to the people,” Leone said.
Addressing the issue of fair share, Leone said he is the voice of the Pine Council District and has been the district’s voice since 1999.
“I’ll always be the voice,” he said.
Denette Dunn is also a candidate for Pine Council District. She said she has been endorsed by six of the seven councilmembers for Peoria and former Mayor Bob Barrett, as well as WEMAR (Western Maricopa Association of Realtors).
She said they are endorsing her because “I am able to work collaboratively.”
Dunn also said two Glendale councilmembers, Lauren Tolmachoff and Ian Hugh, have endorsed her.
In her business career, Dunn said she covered two states, six business units and 1,200 employees. She also noted all of the boards of directors she has served on.
She said very little has been done in the way of repairs on the streets in the Pine Council District the past 15 years. She said streets not only need to be repaired, but also maintained.
Dunn wants to see Northern Parkway completed and raised because it sits in a flood zone.
She said the city needs to make parks accessible to those with disabilities.
She said the city should do a better job on dumping; it “definitely needs to get this down.”
Dunn said the Neighborhood Watch program needs to be easier to create; it now requires at least three neighbors to start a program in a neighborhood.
And, she finally said, “I do have high hopes.”
Jason Dragon is a candidate in the Acacia Council District.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life,” he said.
Dragon said he was an Arizona native, born and raised in the West Valley.
“I think I can make a great difference in the city,” he said.
Dragon said in looking around and talking with business owners, he learned, “we want to have more jobs in Peoria and the city stands in the way sometimes.”
Dragon said he wants to see less government intrusion in people’s lives.
“I’m calling the city almost every week to pick up illegal dumping,” he said.
Dragon said he has been active in politics over the past decade.
“The city of Peoria is full of potential,” he said. “We need to make sure decisions are smart.”
Dragon said a good percentage of people desire higher density developments and mixed use.
“My whole campaign is minute leadership,” he said.
He said he has a Facebook page and is on YouTube. His cell phone number is on his flier.
Brittany Burback is also a candidate in the Acacia Council District race. She is a first-generation American. She said she came from a family of entrepreneurs and shares a law firm with her brother. She first worked at Honeywell, then as general counsel for Fort McDowell, and decided to run for Peoria City Council, so she opened her own law practice.
She said the reason she is seeking the council office is because she wants to see a young person run, and also “for my children to see the process, something my children can look up to.”
Communication is one of Burback’s issues. She said she would let people know what is going on in their community. She said she plans to hold quarterly sit-down meetings with people.
She called Old Town “the elephant in the room.” She said several processes have gone on — rebranding types. Burback said she favors My Office types of businesses in Old Town. (With My Office, businesses rent a certain type of office or part of a building for perhaps just a few hours a week instead of building and maintaining a structure themselves. A My Office is operating near Thunderbird Road and 83rd Avenue at this time.)
Burback also wants to make it easier for people to do business with the city online.
Voters now have their say. The primary election is Aug. 28. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. To find your polling location, go to https://recorder.maricopa.gov/pollingplace/ or https://voter.azsos.gov/VoterView/PollingPlaceSearch.do.