By Trish Moeck
Salt River Project
“The most important government you have is the local government.” – Carolyn Jagger, Scottsdale City Clerk
Scottsdale Leadership Class 32 learned just how true Carolyn’s words were during their City Government Day on February 9th. Scottsdale’s Mayor, Jim Lane, kicked off the class with an inspiring speech on the importance of engagement – engagement on behalf of both the citizens and of City Council. Scottsdale City Councilwoman and Class 8 Alum Linda Milhaven followed up the Mayor’s talk stressing the importance of diversity amongst the representatives and motivating the class, and younger generations, to run for City Council. “Whether you agree or not, I encourage you speak up and be heard.”
Next up in the day’s star studded lineup was Scottsdale’s City Manager, Jim Thompson. With his 31 years in government, the City Manager’s experience, knowledge, and passion was undeniable and he certainly didn’t shy away from the class’ tough questions. Thompson discussed the recent successful implementation of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) sub-committees and, when asked what the current number one issue facing the City of Scottsdale is, he explained that he believes it is the over $700 million discrepancy between the current capital budget needs and the available funding.
Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell and City Treasurer Jeff Nichols finished off the morning introductions and then the class ventured over to City Hall. Dan Worth, Director of the Public Works Division, really brought home the significance of the CIP (Corporate Improvement Plan) that Mayor Lane had mentioned. City capital projects include the development of both new and old city buildings and parks, pedestrian amenities, water and wastewater projects, roads, drainage, etc. and assist in maintaining Scottsdale’s quality of life and keeping our community safe. Similarly, the Director of Transportation, Paul Basha, confirmed the value of the TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan) by sharing that most of the people who live in Scottsdale work elsewhere and most of Scottsdale’s labor force (citizens who are able of working) actually live elsewhere. To put it simply, there are a lot of people using Scottsdale’s roads every day and a lot of work has to be done to keep them safe.
After lunch, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Rachel Smetana, and the City Clerk, Carolyn Jagger, spoke to the class about opportunities on the City’s 22 boards and commissions as well as the requirements for serving on City Council. While Jagger expressed that serving may not be for everyone, at a minimum everyone should participate by voting – “Return that ballot!” She also urged the class to pay attention to the candidate pamphlet that the City sends out prior to each election where the candidates provide a brief description of their views as well as links to their individual websites for additional information.
The defining moment of the day was when the class got to experience firsthand what it is like to participate in a City Council Meeting. Scottsdale Leadership Class 32 Mayor, Laurie LaPat-Polasko and Councilmembers Lauren Burgoyne, Christine Goodman, Robert Houston, Todd Larson, Michael Sheedy, and Katie Smetana were faced with a tough decision: to approve or deny a new bond to obtain capital funding. The remainder of the class was divided into two camps to argue their cases: Pro-Bond and No Bond Scottsdale (No BS). Both sides were passionate about their position but in the end, the bond was approved. After the Class 32 Council meeting, the class was given the opportunity to sit down for an intimate Q&A session with the current leaders, including Mayor Lane.
All in all, the day was a complete success and everyone left feeling truly inspired and informed about our local government and civic duty. Thank you again, Scottsdale Leadership for another unbeatable experience.