Meet the candidates for Chandler mayor: Kevin Hartke and Ruth Jones - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Meet the candidates for Chandler mayor: Kevin Hartke and Ruth Jones

May 27th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Meet the candidates for Chandler mayor: Kevin Hartke and Ruth Jones
Politics
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KEVIN HARTKE

Kevin Hartke

Kevin Hartke

Age: 66

Years in Chandler: 37

Immediate family: Wife: Lynne (for 40 years), 4 Adult Children: Nathan, Aleah, Katelyn, Zachary; 4 Grandchildren; 1 Dog: Mollie

Job: Mayor of the City of Chandler; Pastor at Trinity Christian Fellowship

Education: BS in Biochemistry from U of Missouri/Columbia; MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Phoenix Extension Campus.

Why are you running?

I have been leading and serving in Chandler for the past 37 years. Serving as Mayor is an extension of my commitment in the community that I love and call home.  My years on Council and first term as Mayor have prepared for a second term.

What responsibilities should a mayor specifically task himself or herself with in office?

The primary tasks of the Mayor include leading Council, and with Council setting vision and policies for the city. Community engagement and advocacy are an important part as well. I am well suited and prepared for the foresight and problem solving needed to do the above.

How would you assess your performance as and what goals do you think you failed to achieve this term? What are you three top goals for your next term?

Goals that I either fell short of or have not yet completed include the following:

1. I did not anticipate the changing job market. I am working with staff on incentives and policies that will assist with talent acquisition and retention across the city, including our police.

2. The global supply chain has exposed challenges to all.  We are playing catchup with housing and development.

What three specific activities have you been involved in in the last four years that made your neighborhood and/or the city a better place to live?

I am proud of the things we have accomplished under my leadership during my first term as Mayor.

1. After declaring a state of emergency related to COVID, I worked closely with Council and the Governor to lead the city through stages of the pandemic.

2. I was one of the first to know of and work with the Intel expansion and the subsequent undergrounding of SRP power lines. Bringing more jobs, expansions and headquarters all around Chandler have been a goal of mine. This has included the further revitalization of downtown, Airport region, Price Corridor, West and North Chandler.

3. With Council, our city and Bond subcommittees, we passed the first bond in 14 years by an average of a 40% margin. This will continue to fund our capital projects well past my second term as Mayor.

I could continue with another dozen!

What are your top three strengths that will help Chandler survive economic headwinds such as inflation?

1. Ability to bring staff and Council together to address forward thinking decisions.

2. Understanding the times we are in and leading Council in maintaining rainy day funds as well as use one time and ongoing funds appropriately.

3. Experience with leadership and budgets that will keep  city government focused on our core responsibilities and minimizing vision drift. It is  easy to spend money on many programs that are not central to the goal of local government.

What are your top three concerns for the next four years in Chandler and how would you address them?

1. Talent attraction and retention for city services. With Council I instituted a class and compensation study that will guide us and make our hiring competitive. Chandler has a good brand. I am currently working on further incentives to bring our work force to a full complement. This includes police as well.

2. Build out. With a diminishing acreage available, land use and redevelopment decisions become crucial. This effects accommodating the ongoing business expansion and relocation,  headquarters relocations and housing needs.

3. Keeping Chandler fiscally sound, maintaining a high quality of life for all and a low cost of service.

How can the city facilitate the development of affordable housing?

We will work with federal and state partners to find affordable and workforce housing financing.

We will initiate development agreements with builders.

We will identify aging retail corners such as Warner and Alma School or Chandler and Kyrene that are good candidates for mixed use projects including housing solutions.

A RAD housing option is currently being implemented  that can bring affordable and workforce housing.

What additional controls would you advocate for short-term rentals like Airbnb?

I will continue to work with entities like the Maricopa Assoc of Governments and Arizona League of Towns and Cities where I serve in leadership roles to press for greater local control and registration.

Should Chandler pass an anti-discrimination ordinance with penalties for violating its provisions? Why or why not?

With Council I instituted both a Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) office and a DEI study that is doing a deep dive look at both internal city policy study as well as an outward looking community study.

I look forward to the results and hearing the voices of our community. I have pledged my personal advocacy and Mayoral leadership to anyone and everyone in Chandler experiencing discriminatory practices by the city, employers, housing providers or others.

Chandler is a very diverse and inclusive community. We will work to continue it being a safe community that provides opportunity for all. An NDO is a solution that we do not need.

Would you support a bond issue to make the runways at Chandler Airport longer? Why or why not?

I would support bringing a bond question to Chandler authorizing the extension of the runway.

Extending the runway will bring in more small corporate jets for those engaging and working in our community. This will also potentially discourage the increase of flight school touch and go operations from both local operators and operators from other airports using Chandler’s airport that creates most of the noise and complaints regarding fixed wing aviation.

What are your top three qualities that you bring to the office of mayor?

1. Passionate love for my beautiful, diverse community

2. Experience and decades of leadership, collaboration and understanding.

3. Ability to work with federal, state and local leaders to represent and further Chandler’s goals.

How can the city best maintain existing service levels in the face of strong economic headwinds such as inflation?

Prioritize our core missions: Public safety, service delivery, transportation, infrastructure.

Continue to keep rainy day and other contingency funds.

Continue to implement a structurally balanced budgets that use one-time monies for one-time expenses and ongoing monies for ongoing expenses.

Hartke: I know the city and how to get things done

By Mayor Kevin Hartke
Guest Writer

Our city is prospering. Our taxes and utilities rates are the lowest in the Valley. We are fiscally balanced. Businesses are moving to Chandler, creating more jobs. We are one of the top cities in the nation in regard to prosperity, safety, desirability, education and transparency. Chandler continues to be the recipient of awesome news: the Intel expansion, small businesses flocking to our city, revitalization of the downtown and the relocation of more corporate headquarters.

I believe that local politics matter. I am committed to serving you as Chandler’s mayor to make sure that Chandler continues to be a city where all can prosper, live, work, create and recreate safely!

As your mayor, I have championed and supported our Chamber of Commerce, businesses, schools, parks, neighborhoods, community programs and residents.  After nine years of service on the Chandler City Council, (twice being appointed vice mayor), and on my fourth year as your mayor, I understand our community and how to get things done.

I currently serve on the Maricopa Association of Governments (Transportation Policy Committee, Regional Board and Executive Committee), the Regional Public Transportation Authority, Arizona League of Towns and Cities and locally on the Chandler Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors and For Our City – Chandler (a non-profit I started 13 years ago).

I partnered with state and federal officials to keep Chandler thriving through Covid. My collaboration also appropriated monies for a future I-10 expansion from Chandler to Casa Grande, for water conservation initiatives and for the county’s regional transportation plan. I will continue to work locally, regionally, statewide and federally to serve you.

My commitment as Chandler’s mayor is to create and ensure Chandler’s future and legacy as a world class community where all can thrive and prosper. My priorities are the following:

  • Make sure that our police and fire departments have the manpower and resources necessary to keep our community safe.
  • Ensure great customer service and transparency to our residents.
  • Continue to attract great companies and great jobs.
  • Collaborate with our schools to maximize amenities like pools, libraries and public spaces.
  • Collaborate with our neighboring communities to serve our region.
  • Continue to approach build-out wisely.
  • Promote new and appropriate technology to serve our residents and business community.

I am blessed with a family that supports each other. Lynne and I share 40 years of marriage and have four adult children (all graduated from Chandler public schools) and four grandchildren. We also have a rescue dog named Mollie.

I have been leading and serving our community for 37 years. Experience matters. I continue to serve as a pastor at Trinity Christian Fellowship in Chandler and volunteer extensively in our community. I have a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from University of Missouri, Columbia; and a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. You can learn more about me and my campaign at kevinhartke.com.

Hartke: Passionate about, committed to Chandler

By Mayor Kevin Hartke
Arizonan Guest Writer

I love Chandler.

I love riding my bike on our beautiful canal system early in the morning as well as catching a sunset at an iconic location like Veteran’s Memorial at Veterans Oasis Park.

I love being surprised by amazing food at a new Chandler restaurant or catching up with a friend at one of our many coffee places.

I love drinking a cold glass of home-grown lemonade or grapefruit juice on a hot day.

I love our rich diversity in Chandler and how culture, different opinions and experiences continue to make us a better community.

I love how our downtown has become a gem, a point of pride for not just Chandler, but the entire Valley.

I love it when someone mentions how a police officer, first responder, neighbor or stranger helped them in a time of crisis and turned that crisis into a lifelong amazing memory. This is our community.

I love Chandler.

For the past 37 years, I have been passionate and committed about serving you.

Through the years, this commitment has manifested in many ways:

  • Coaching soccer with the YMCA;
  • Reading to students at Galveston Elementary School weekly for 14 years;
  • Organizing and serving at Chandler’s largest backpack give-away for over a decade;
  • Serving with local nonprofits to feed those who need it for decades;
  • Helping hundreds of men and women who have experienced homelessness get off our streets and into a better life;
  • Serving as your councilmember for nine years;
  • Serving as your mayor for 3.5 years;
  • -Serving on regional and state boards, commissions and committees in areas of transportation, economic growth and homelessness for over a decade

I did not show up recently and promise what I would do as a candidate; I have been leading and serving Chandler for most of my life. With your help, I will continue.

This is my promise; I will continue to listen to you to create and continue Chandler’s legacy as a word-class community with great jobs, exceptional schools and safe neighborhoods for ALL. I will:

  • Make sure that our first responders have the people and resources they need to keep our community safe;
  • Ensure great customer service and transparency to our residents;
  • Continue to attract great companies;
  • Collaborate with our schools and neighboring cities to maximize amenities like pools, libraries, parks and public spaces;
  • Ensure that we have the water we need, now and in the future;
  • Continue to approach build-out wisely;
  • Ensure that Chandler is a community where ALL can prosper and be safe.

Our city is prospering. Our taxes and utilities rates are the lowest in the Valley. We are fiscally balanced. We are one of the top cities in the nation in regard to prosperity, safety, desirability, education and transparency. I will continue this work as your mayor.

You can learn more about me and my campaign at kevinhartke.com.

RUTH JONES

Ruth Jones

Ruth Jones

Age: 55

Years in Chandler: 2 in Chandler

Husband:  Gordon Jones; 6 children, 4 living with 3 currently at home and one starting college.

Job: Mortgage Loan Officer, not currently working

Education: Certification from National Cryptological School, Licensed MLO, realtor, a business major.

Why are you running?

I have seen the city changing and I am concerned about the lack of leadership.  I want to bring greater transparency and community involvement that will assure our citizens the quality of life they are used to.  I will provide the vision that will give our city a strong future.

What responsibilities should a mayor specifically task himself or herself with in office?

A mayor should lead with conscience, communicating with council and enacting policy that maintains the high quality of life our citizens expect.  The mayor is the voice of the community and needs to see all aspects of city life in every decision made.

What have been Mayor Hartke’s three biggest failures as mayor and how would you have acted differently? What three actions by Mayor Hartke do you applaud?

Mayor Hartke has failed to provide adequate public safety.  Our homeless population has grown at an alarming rate and we have a culture of government that lacks transparency.  He is, however, well intentioned and attends community events.  He is also not confrontational.

What three specific activities have you been involved in in the last four years that made your neighborhood and/or the city a better place to live?

I was on a planning and zoning commission and worked on a transit-oriented development.  That required coordination between city, state, train, road officials, and multiple developers to create the gateway to the city.  Closer to home I worked with the city to put stop signs in a neighborhood to create a safe walking path to an elementary school.  I have also been an HOA president.

What are your top three strengths that will help Chandler survive economic headwinds such as inflation?

As the mother to 6 children I have always been frugal and organized.  This coupled with my fiscal conservative background and my time on planning and zoning commission allow me to see future needs and be prepared to meet good and bad economic turns as we develop and grow.

What are your top three concerns for the next four years in Chandler and how would you address them?

We need to provide resources asked for by police in order to hire and retain officers at the level Chandler requires.  Secondly, we need to address the build out of the city and secure our economic growth.  Our growing homeless population needs to be a priority.  We need to create programs that work to decrease these numbers.

How can the city facilitate the development of affordable housing?

Increase public private partnerships and programs that facilitate resident’s pathway towards home ownership and financial independence.

What additional controls would you advocate for short-term rentals like Airbnb?

We need to give neighborhoods power to control the bad actors and those that violate code or become a nuisance.  We will need to create ordnances and code that allows for management of negligent properties and holds properties owners accountable.

Should Chandler pass an anti-discrimination ordinance with penalties for violating its provisions? Why or why not?

We need to create a non-discrimination ordinance.  All the citizens of Chandler need to be respected and feel safe in our community.  We are the last major city to not have this and the state legislature is currently entertaining bills that would hurt our city.  By writing the ordinance we can make sure it meets our cities needs as I believe strongly in local control.

Would you support a bond issue to make the runways at Chandler Airport longer? Why or why not?

I would.  This issue already needs voter approval and the longer runways will be quieter and safer.  It will also allow us to compete with Scottsdale and Phoenix Mesa Gateway for tourism and business opportunity.

What are your top three qualities that you bring to the office of mayor?

I bring my integrity and hardworking ethic to this position.  I will be engaging and seeking consensus with all stakeholders to build coalitions that can build on common ground to resolve difficult policy issues.  I bring policy experience, strength of character and faith and will lead with those qualities.

How can the city best maintain existing service levels in the face of strong economic headwinds such as inflation?

In a period of high inflation, we need to keep attention on our revenues and carefully balance that against expenditures, cutting wasteful programs and expenses like homeless programs that aren’t working when our law enforcement in not fully staffed.

Jones: Chandler needs a non-discrimination law

By RUTH JONES
Guest Writer

The state of Arizona just passed a bill that will protect dogs from discrimination.  That may be a small thing for most people, but it is huge when you juxtapose it against the City of Chandler.

Our mayor refuses to consider an ordinance to protect our own citizens.  Our LGBTQ community continues to be marginalized and forgotten.  “My advocacy is far better than an NDO” was the feeling of the mayor at a recent election debate. This sentiment has left these members of our community worried and disillusioned.

To understand this issue, you need to know the history of the ordinance and its impact on our city.

The non-discrimination ordinance was first introduced in Arizona 20 years ago.  It has been passed in 11 cities and more are working towards that goal. Chandler is the last of the five largest cities in the state to have refused to act.  This ordinance only affects what happens in the public sphere, not in homes or places of worship.

It is heavily supported by the Chamber of Commerce, large and small businesses alike, and many faith denominations.

It has been shown in cities that have it to increase business retention and expansion.  In the 20 years it has existed in Arizona there has only been one case which was resolved through mediation at no cost or penalty to the business.  When we as a city write the ordinance, we have the power to tailor it to the unique needs and wants of our constituency.

We must also understand the impact of not having one in Chandler. The greater Phoenix economic council whom our city pays for economic development consulting has recommended the city pass an NDO. These NDOs are critical for attracting large employers and events from across the country.

Over the years we have all seen large sporting events and employers refuse to invest in communities that are not protective of their own citizens. Our mayor and several council members have said there is no discrimination in Chandler. Just because one has never felt discrimination does not mean it doesn’t exist for those who have felt it.

Local government is our first line of defense, and it is incumbent on our mayor and council to protect all citizens equally under the law. When our federal and state governments refuse to act, local leadership is ever more important. While I appreciate our city working to provide more culturally diverse events which bring awareness of this issue and communities, they fall short of actually protecting them.

As your mayor I will ensure all of our citizens are protected equally.   While I appreciate the current mayor’s “advocacy,” advocacy does not protect people from discrimination, laws do.

We need to take the future of our city and the protection of our citizens seriously and govern for everyone.   A nondiscrimination ordinance that protects our LGBTQ community, increases business prospects and protects our residents, will show that Chandler is truly the inclusive community it claims to be.

Jones: Chandler’s rising homelessness a problem

By RUTH JONES
Arizonan Guest Writer

Everyone should have a home.  Right now, in our country we have a problem.  The homeless population is rising.  This is a problem everywhere but nowhere is it growing faster than right here in the city of Chandler.

To understand this problem, you need some information.   The homeless population is counted by something referred to as the Point In Time Count (PIT).  These numbers are used for several things.  Federal funding is based on this number, and it is also a metric used to determine if our programs are successful.

In the 2020 count Maricopa County’s numbers rose 12%.  That’s about the national average.  However, here in Chandler our numbers rose by a little more than 38%.  That should have set off alarm bells and caused us to change what we’re doing, but it did not.

No count was taken in 2021 due to the pandemic so we knew that the numbers would be steeper in 2022.  Maricopa went up 34%.  Phoenix went up 33%.  In 2022, the homeless population in Chandler went up 76%!

What is driving this increase and what can be done?

To answer that question, you must look at the programs here in Chandler.  A little over a year ago our mayor introduced Support Court.  There is no requirement to complete any program to get assistance there.  We also have Operation Open Door.  In this program we identify homeless people, we then pay for hotel rooms for these individuals.  Housing is provided from 30 to 90 days.  It is considered a positive outcome of this program to get a bed in the shelter.

There ares no requirements in the program of working with these individuals to change their situation.  No job training, no life skill classes.  No substance abuse or mental health evaluation.  Not even interview skills or how to get your documents, like Social Security card, is mentioned.

I do not believe in criminalizing homelessness, but if what we are doing isn’t changing lives, why are we doing it?  We have more than 15 programs here in Chandler.  What is the cost… Millions., Some are funded by federal allotments, but those come with federal requirements.  The remainder is from our General Fund.

Either way our tax dollars are being spent while the problem continues to grow.   This comes at a cost to our citizenry, homeless encampments and open-air drug use is becoming more prevalent near our schools and in our neighborhoods and parks which creates safety, health, and quality of life concerns for all.

We need programs that give positive results.  Those in our programs need to be accountable for services received.  Programs that educate and don’t just get them off the streets but keep them off the streets.  Further, the city needs reliable data and metrics to capture the effectiveness of said programs.

When I am mayor, this will be a top priority.

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