Outgoing Council members reflect on 8 years of service - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Outgoing Council members reflect on 8 years of service

January 6th, 2023 SanTan Sun News
Outgoing Council members reflect on 8 years of service

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

When Chandler Vice Mayor Terry Roe and Councilman Rene Lopez were first sworn into office eight years ago, they said that first year was “daunting.”

“I’ve got massive stacks of papers,” Lopez said. “It was stacks that we would get with development drawings and renderings and all of the budget line items and that stuff, and it was massive.”

Lopez and Roe have been cleaning out their offices and finding some of those old stacks of paper as their terms come to an end. Some agendas can have 50 to 60 items and the supporting paperwork can number into the dozens for each item.

New Council members Angel Encinas and Jane Poston will be sworn in on Jan. 12 and will not have to face that daunting stack of paper: The entire agenda is now digital and available online.

“We were just talking about, you know, cleaning out our offices and that sort of thing,” Roe said. “And we both had some thought that maybe there’d be an office to put some of that. That’s just not the case this time.”

Both men ran for new offices and did not win their elections. They could not run for Council again because of term limits.

The two men looked back at their eight years, proud of their accomplishments, and are eager to continue public service. As of now, though, they don’t know what form that will take.

“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Lopez said. “You know, we both been on here for this whole eight years and got a lot of good things done and kept Chandler on track, fiscally responsible, keeping all the services high level, keeping police and fire well paid. And I think we’ve done a really good job. And the bitterness is, again, it has to come to an end.”

Both men were part of local government during the pandemic, an event that challenged everyone in power. The early days were filled with uncertainty, no one knowing how deadly it was or the right balance between protecting lives and personal freedom.

“I do remember the first few months, I mean, coming in every week, we were having briefings,” Lopez said. “Where’s it going at, the infectious rate, death rate? … I think we as a group, kept an eye on ensuring that we were not overstepping our bounds as a city.”

Roe said his main worry during those early days of the pandemic was to ensure the city would be able to handle any financial loss because of businesses being shut down and no tax dollars coming in.

“I made a lot of noise about wanting to trim the budget because I can be cynical,” Roe said.

Both men mentioned that they leave with the city in excellent condition financially, and with plenty of water. They credited the council members who came before them for Chandler’s long tradition of managing its resources.

They know not every city does as well.

“I get flabbergasted still to this day when discovering that with some of the excess water, other cities are selling it off to make up budget shortfalls,” Lopez said. “I am flabbergasted when I hear that. And they look over the fence and see that we’ve got this massive pool.”

Both men thanked city staff, saying they do an excellent job running Chandler. They also thanked Mayor Kevin Hartke and the other council members, saying that no one person gets anything done. It takes at least four votes, and the councils there were a part of worked very well together.

“I remember after about 14 months on the council, we’d gone through a budget cycle, and we had our first massive show up of people with pitchforks and torches, about pickleball versus tennis,” Lopez said.

The city was considering converting some tennis courts into pickleball courts and Lopez noted, “We have a pretty dang-well run city, $600 million budget, 230,000 people at the time or less, and this is the biggest issue we have people coming to us with, converting a tennis court to pickleball. That’s a pretty well-run city when that’s the angriest people get.”

Added Roe: “I think I’ve said it to a number of people, it is not an honorary position. It is an honor, it’s a great honor. And we are, as a council and a mayor, charged with doing the people’s work. And it isn’t about me, and I’m not going to get what I want just because I got elected. It takes people working together, you’ve got to count to four or more.”