Casey Clowes recognizes that local actions stemming from local government officials and local statutes have more impact on residents’ daily lives than state and federal ones.
She also realizes that serving on the City Council is one of the best ways to help move Tempe and its residents forward.
In recent years, many public policy advocates have come to realize that the best way to achieve progressive social change is at the local level with mayors, city councils, and county governments.
Several works like the Metropolitan Revolution, Our Towns, The New Localism, and Triumph of the City echo the sentiments expressed by Ms. Clowes as she hopes to participate in making Tempe the jewel of the East Valley as a member of the City Council following the 2020 elections.
A graduate of the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Clowes is one of seven candidates campaigning for three open City Council seats in 2020.
Tempe, the home of Arizona State University, will also have a mayoral election in 2020.
In running for office, she, an admitted policy wonk, said, “we need council members that enjoy the policy research aspect of it. The City of Tempe needs council members that think through and want to solve big messy problems.”
Saying she loves helping people and running for office has been fun because she loves Tempe, Ms. Clowes sat down with this writer at the Press Café across from the Tempe Center for the Arts and expressed her reasons for running and the major issues she is championing.
The questions and her responses are below.
- Please tell the reader what are at least two qualifications that make you ideal for the Tempe City Council.
I care about Tempe; it’s my home. Because it’s my home, I want to make sure that it is the best possible place it can be. Not just for me, but for all of the people who are fortunate enough to call Tempe their home too. This is why I am running for Tempe City Council.
I combine a strong legal background that makes me ready to analyze the complex policy questions that come before the Council with a personal experience that drives me to advocate for all Tempe residents.
I care about Tempe, and above all, I am passionate about spending my personal and professional life working to improve the lives of others. This is how I’ve always been. I am running for Tempe City Council in order to pursue more equitable solutions to modern challenges, improve education for all, and foster sustainable communities. I thoughtfully consider complex policy matters by consulting with stakeholders and experts before making decisions.
- In your opinion, what are three strengths of the City of Tempe?
Tempe has numerous strengths including its diverse community, public services, and robust transit network.
Diverse Community: People of all ages come from across the state, country, and world to live, study, and work in Tempe, making it a more culturally and economically vibrant place.
Public Services: Tempe supports residents, especially families, with a robust system of pre-schools, parks, libraries, events, and other services that bring people together and improve the quality of life.
Transit Network: Tempe benefits from its many buses, light rail, and Orbit lines. All residents, especially those who are young, elderly, or disabled, enjoy better access to local businesses, errands, and friends and family thanks to our great transit network.
- In your opinion, what are three areas that warrant improvement in the City of Tempe?
Affordability: The city should use smart policy to further encourage the development of new affordable housing and maintain existing affordable units. Tempe is stronger when we ensure nobody gets priced out and everyone has the dignity of a safe and stable home.
Road Condition and Safety: We can link road resurfacing projects to our plans for modern street design and safe access for people using the roads, sidewalks, or bike lanes. Tempe should evaluate road maintenance for opportunities to improve safety and multimodal transportation.
Heat Island and Tree Cover: The summer heat increases energy costs and can be a health hazard for our most vulnerable residents. The city can prioritize a comprehensive network of shade structures, tree cover, and green building materials that absorb less heat.
- As a councilmember, what are the three most important issues that you would want the Tempe City Council and Mayoral staff to address?
Affordable Housing: Many hardworking people cannot afford to live in Tempe because of the growing cost of housing. It is important to evaluate zoning rules and city-owned property for creative solutions to increase our supply of affordable housing.
Road Safety: We must push for further study into pedestrian, driver, and cyclist safety, especially in high traffic areas. Each road death or injury should be examined to determine if the safer street design could have reduced harm.
Invest in City of Tempe Employees: Tempe employees are the key to our city’s success, and they deserve a living wage and paid parental leave. I will fight for full-time city employees to receive a $15 minimum wage and paid parental leave.
In discussing this point, Ms. Clowes used the example of Fire Service Aides in Tempe earning less than their counterparts in Gilbert saying “everyone deserves to earn a living wage, period. But it is also important for Tempe to stay competitive with other cities in order to recruit and retain the best employees.”
- What are at least three (one each) plans you would like to implement to make Tempe a better place for:
- Tempe’s Residents
Many residents benefit from Tempe’s free circulator, the Orbit, and Valley Metro buses, but there is still room for improvement.
Many of Tempe’s bus stops do not have a bus stop shelter providing much-needed shade and seating for riders. Tempe can work with local artists to create beautiful, functional, and accessible bus stop shelters, including bike racks, to improve riders’ experiences and Tempe’s sustainability efforts. Additionally, particular bus stops can include designated painted parking places for scooters to help get the scooters out of the middle of the sidewalk that create a barrier to those using the sidewalks.
The Orbit provides transportation to work, school, and recreation for many Tempe residents, but it is currently hard to track. Tempe can work to create a mobile app that allows riders to track when the next bus will arrive. This will improve riders’ ability to plan their trips and utilize the Orbit.
2. Tempe’s Commercial Interests
Cities in Arizona have the power to regulate land and land use under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) Section 9-462 et seq. How our cities are planned shapes how people are able to live their lives. For example, whether there are protected bike lanes affects your ability to and your inclination to choose to bike, density and the ability to build a mixed-use development in Downtown Tempe affects affordability and sustainability, and where parks are located affects public health. Tempe must use all the tools in its tool belt to ensure that our goals of affordability, sustainability, and providing jobs for residents are being furthered by our land use and development decisions.
3. Tempe’s Cultural and Educational Centers
The City of Tempe currently offers tuition assistance for Tempe PRE preschool to income-qualified families who live in Tempe. We know that preschool offers social, emotional, and academic benefits to our children. Providing tuition assistance also provides numerous benefits to families. The average preschool tuition in Arizona is almost as much as instate tuition at ASU and is out of reach for too many families. Tempe should work to expand Tempe PRE preschool so that more of Tempe’s youngest residents are able to receive high-quality preschool education.
- Is there anything you would like the voter to know about you that was not addressed in the first five questions?
Tempe is my home. I love this city and the entire Tempe community. I am running to improve the lives of the amazing people in Tempe. As a member of Tempe City Council, I will carry on Tempe’s tradition of excellent public service by working to build safe and sustainable communities, empowering everyone to participate in the democratic process, and by giving families the resources they need to thrive.
Ms. Clowes has assembled a grassroots team of over 30 volunteers to help spread her progressive message for Tempe.
She is also supported by her girlfriend Emily who (as evidenced by her three years of Peace Corps service in The Gambia and desire to serve in the Navy and become a trauma surgeon) shares Casey’s belief in helping people.
Casey Clowes is a very passionate advocate who has spent her professional life helping people.
As a lawyer, she has helped clients who were victims of fraud.
Now, she wants to take that spirit of public service and help the community members of Tempe thrive.
Voters should consider her and the positions she has taken when voting in the March 2020 local primary.
Feel free to donate to Ms. Clowes campaign if you are impressed with her vision for Tempe.