By Rick Heumann
For the past eight years, it has been my pleasure to serve the citizens of Chandler as a councilman. My parents always instilled the importance of giving back to the community and I’ve had many experiences to honor them. I always asked, “How can I be of better service?”
My family moved to Chandler in 1982, and we have watched the city grow and prosper over the years. I started serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission in August 2000. This gave me the opportunity to learn what made the city so great, learn about policies and understand the vision of past mayors and councilmembers.
I became heavily involved in neighborhood and park issues. Through the dedication and commitment of staff, we have been able to resolve some key concerns and create better environments for our residents to live and play. It’s important to build relationships between the community, our staff and local organizations.
Through regional efforts with the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association and working closely with the Municipal Utilities Department staff, I learned about the importance of preserving and protecting water for the future. Together, we have become leading advocates for changes to Arizona’s groundwater laws. This past year, Council approved a Water Allocation Policy.
My passion is education. During my tenure, I founded the Chandler Education Coalition. Members consist of the Chandler Unified School District, Intel, ICAN, TechShop, Gangplank, other local schools and nonprofit organizations. This group focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education and providing learning opportunities. Its vision created the annual Chandler SciTech Saturday event that will be celebrating its sixth year on Feb. 18. This event provides hands-on learning experience for all ages. I can’t thank Intel enough not only for its participation, but, more importantly, for its sponsorship.
The Chandler Education Coalition also saw the need to improve literacy for young children preparing for kindergarten. Read on Chandler was founded and created a collaborative support system of community stakeholders to ensure all Chandler children birth to 5, obtain the necessary literacy skills for school-readiness. Through a partnership with Valley of the Sun United Way, areas in the community needing the most assistance were identified. This group is working on ways to get families more involved at local libraries, maintain monthly calendars highlighting programs and resources and developing a resource guide for parents, teachers, and local family agencies. The Housing Division staff works closely with Read on Chandler. I appreciate their dedication and efforts with incorporating some of these services within its own programs.
Over the years, I have watched the city grow and survive the Great Recession. The City was able to come out strong without laying off any employees or going to four-day work weeks. Though some employees choose an early separation or retirement, the City was still able to provide and maintain services. I watched the City come together and evaluate current policies, procedures, and practices. We asked for public input and looked at government in a different light. The thought was just because something has been done a certain way for so long, doesn’t make it right or still valuable. I commend our staff and the community for working together ensuring the City of Chandler stayed economically stable through one of the most difficult times since the Great Depression.
We have one of the lowest staff to citizen ratios in the Valley, and staff is to be commended for its transparency and desire to help people, while taking responsibility and having a sense of pride. They make the difference!
I’m going to miss the camaraderie with my fellow councilmembers. We may not have always agreed on certain projects or policies, but whatever the vote was at the end of the day, we always respected one another.
As we look toward the future, with the election of Councilmen Sam Huang and Mark Stewart and the continued support of Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and the existing Council, the City will continue to prosper and be served well.
I want to thank everyone who has supported me over the years; most importantly, my family, those who voted for me, and those who have worked alongside me. I hope I have made a small difference, and I look forward in helping in any way that I can.