Community Activist and Public Policy Servant Nikki Amberg Seeks a Seat on the Tempe City Council

Tempe City Council Candidate Nikki Amber (on the right.)

Longtime Tempe resident Nikki Amberg wants to give back to the community she loves by serving on the local City Council. 

Experienced in public policy and community activism, Ms. Amberg would like to bridge her service in these areas to preserve what is great about Tempe (its diversity, great staff, commitments to affordable housing, sustainability, and historic preservation) and work to move the city forward by improving its transparency with voters, stabilizing core services, and adopting regional solutions to help the homeless. 

She has been endorsed by current Tempe Mayor Corey Woods and former Mayor Neil Giuliano, as well as Vice Mayor Jennifer Adams, and Councilmembers Berdetta Hodge and Joel Navarro. 

She has also been endorsed by Arizona List and the Professional Firefighters of Arizona. 

Ms. Amberg graciously took the time to interview with the Blog for Arizona and discuss her qualifications and goals for serving on the Tempe City Council. 

The questions and her responses are below. 

1)  Please tell the reader what are at least two qualifications that make you ideal for the Tempe City Council.

“I am probably the only person that’s running that has the public policy experience that I’ve got.”

“It started in Louisiana. I started working at the House of Representatives there and moved here in 1998. I worked at the State Senate and the Cities of Mesa and Tempe. In terms of public policy, that is pretty much been my entire professional life. For the last three decades, I’ve been the person doing the background research, the person doing the constituent services with folks and stakeholders, bringing them together, pulling everything together, and handing the finished product over to somebody else. This is the first time I’ve run as a candidate myself. If elected, I will be the person being handed the information.”

“I would say the second qualification is my community involvement. I’ve raised all of my kids down here. I’ve gone through the public school system with them. I was on the PTO boards and girl scout’s support. I am really involved in nonprofits. I do a lot of fundraising for them in my private life. I was on the Tempe Community Council Board for about six years. I am currently on the National Charity League Board and on the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Board. I’ve always felt that there were two types of politicians or stakeholders in terms of people who run for office. One type of elected official is there to do the policy, the inside City Hall kind of stuff. And the second type is somebody who is really involved in the community. I feel like that I am the best of both worlds. I’ve got both of those qualifications. So I decided that this is a good time in my life to run for office myself.”

2) What are at least two reasons you want to serve on the Tempe City Council?

“After 30 years, I kind of feel like I’ve done as much as I can do as a staffer. Today, I am running to be the person responsible for the decisions themselves. I think this is a good time in my life where I am going to be able to start doing that. I also want to continue giving back to Tempe. When I moved here in 1998 from Louisiana, I didn’t know anyone except my ex-husband’s parents. I got my first job in the State Senate and [former Tempe Mayor] Harry Mitchell had just been elected to the State Legislature and kind of took me under his wing and showed me the city. He introduced me to everybody. I feel like everybody in the city welcomed me and my family with open arms. It is a fantastic place to raise my kids. I absolutely refuse to move. I’m not going anywhere. I just want to give back to the families that are thinking about moving here and make sure Tempe stays the place that has been for at least the last 25 years that it has been for me. It’s just a great place.”

3) In your opinion, what are three strengths of the City of Tempe?

“I would say one strength is the staff. I’ve worked with a lot of public employees at the state and city level. I’ve done some work with school boards. I would say the City of Tempe really has one of the best groups of staff people that I’ve worked with. They absolutely love what they do and they have a genuine love for this community and the city. It was so fantastic working with them and getting to know most of them.”

“I would say the second strength is our city’s location. It’s one of the reasons that I moved here. It’s just so close to everything. You don’t have an hour and a half commute to Downtown Phoenix. You are 15 minutes away from the airport. We are close to downtown Scottsdale. My daughter goes to the University of Arizona. It only takes an hour and a half to get down to see her in Tucson. We’ve got Arizona State here. From a work, play, raise your kid standpoint, to me the city is the perfect place to do be, not just the city itself but a geographic location. It’s fantastic.”

“The third strength is the City of Tempe is really progressive. I’m a Democrat. I worked for the Democratic Party. I worked for the Democrats in the State Senate here and I really like the fact that Tempe is incredibly progressive. We have been a leader as a city in terms of sustainability, transit, the diversity on the council is just fantastic. We’ve got the most diverse group of city council members in the state, if not the nation. Everyone has embraced them and all the different communities in the city of Tempe. Living here is just fantastic. I don’t think I would want to live anywhere else. 

4) As a member of the City Council, what are three public policy areas you would like to work on to improve Tempe?

“One of them is homelessness. The City of Tempe, the HOPE team, CARE 7 Team, and police officers; they do a fantastic job with that population, and they’ve done a fantastic job working with our area nonprofits. But an issue is that all of the cities kind of do their own thing. Homelessness is not just a city of Tempe issue. It is a regional issue and, coming from years from working for the state, I tend to see regional problems on a regional basis, and I like to find regional solutions to them. As a new city council person, I would spearhead a more regional approach to homelessness so that it doesn’t matter what city you’re in, you’re going to get the same services. You’re going to get the same care. That way, if everybody is working together as a team with our fantastic nonprofit organizations, we can actually start to make a dent in the problem. If you’re just doing it on a city-by-city basis, you’re just going to be spinning wheels and you’re never going to solve anything.”

“For the second area, I want to focus on Tempe’s core city services. I was a budget person when I was at the State Capitol, and I was one of the lead budget policy advisors and negotiators. The city is going to go through a little bit of a rough patch. Tempe is going to have to cut over $20 million out of the budget because they will no longer be able to tax long-term rentals. I want to bring my budget experience to the City of Tempe so we can focus on core city services, including public safety. I really want to support our police and fire and make sure they’re fully staffed. I want to make sure they get all they equipment that they need. When we visited a 911 call center, I was taken aback that they were so short-staffed that a lot of folks were having to do mandatory overtime. That’s a stressful enough job as it is. and having to come in on what would normally be your day off, I can only imagine what that would do to your mental health. Focusing on core city services is the second thing I would like to do.”

“The third area is more transparency in the city’s decision making process. Though I think the city does a good job with community outreach in general, I don’t think they’re quite as transparent when it comes to making big decisions. One of the reasons that I decided to run was the Coyotes (hockey team) deal. Even though I felt that development deal was the best project for that site itself, I was not in favor of the city’s public engagement process. There was hardly time for any public input, which I think went a long way towards generating a lot of the negative sentiment toward that development. Had they taken their time, had more town halls, talked to residents and gotten feedback in terms of what the public’s problems were with that development, then maybe the city would have had time to make changes to the deal and maybe it would have passed. So I think bringing more public input into the process, especially on large developments like the Coyotes arena, would have a huge positive impact. To me, transparency and community outreach is the perfect example of something that we need a lot more of in terms of doing it early and doing it often.”

5) What are three public policy areas you would like to maintain and continue in Tempe?

“I think the City of Tempe does a fantastic job when it comes to multi-modal transportation, including bike lanes, bike paths, light rail, streetcar, and Orbitz routes serving our neighborhoods. The city is very dedicated to making sure that folks have another way to get around without having to get in their car. Anything I can do to help with that would be fantastic, including bringing Orbit buses further into the southern part of Tempe. Currently, they do not go south of Elliot, and there’s a route a couple of miles south of there that people would benefit from.”

“The second area is sustainability. I would really like to help work with their green stormwater initiative that Tempe is just starting to get off the ground. I took a tour of Tucson’s green streets initiative and it’s fantastic. From a sustainability standpoint, any way we can manage our water resources while we are going through a drought, would be an enormous benefit. I’m also a big and firm believer in shade, including more tress and more man-made shade in Tempe. I would also like to work on cool pavement. I know Phoenix and Tucson have installed some in their cities. Tempe is going to launch a pilot project, but I believe we can think bigger since we are considering a bond to repair all of the aging roads in the city. This would be a fantastic opportunity to repair our roads and try to get some federal grant money to do cool pavement in the City of Tempe, especially in the residential neighborhoods and around the parks where your kids are playing and you see people walking dogs. Keeping the temperature down in the summer, even just a few degrees— especially with last summer’s record-breaking temperatures— would be fantastic.”

“The third area is historic preservation, which is something else the city is thinking about bonding to invest more resources into. Preserving our landmarks is a top priority for me. I also want to work with our Native American Tribes. We’ve got so much archeology and cultural resources, so working closely with our Native American population would go a long way to preserve the history of Arizona.” 

6) Is there anything not covered in the first five questions that you would like the readers to know about your candidacy for the Tempe City Council? Please explain. 

“As a candidate for the Tempe City Council, I think I’m the best of both worlds: a new voice for the city but one that is informed by a lot of public policy experience. If elected, I could hit the ground running from day one. That’s not normally the case with most newly elected officials. My decades of community involvement also make me a great choice. I’ve loved being involved with the community on PTO boards, enagaging all our small businesses, getting to know all our residents through the Girl Scouts and youth sports programs. During my time serving on the Tempe Community Council, I got to know pretty much all of the nonprofits in the city.  Being able to bring all of those aspects of my life into one job is going to be fantastic.”

Please click on the below social media sites to find out more information on Nikki Amberg and her candidacy for the Tempe City Council. 

Insta https://www.instagram.com/ambergfortempe

FB https://facebook.com/nikkifortempe

Early ballots have been mailed out and election day is on March 12, 2024. 

4 thoughts on “Community Activist and Public Policy Servant Nikki Amberg Seeks a Seat on the Tempe City Council”

  1. I pose for portrait pictures. I do not stage faux action shots. That’s so phoney, with apologies to Dave.

    • A pose by any other name still smells like a pose, John.

      But it’s good to know you’re against say, phony “man of the people” ivy league educated GOP rep’s and senator’s doing photo ops at the border.

      Noted.

      And surely you condemn convicted rapist Donald J. Trump’s choreographed helicopter ride home from his COVID hospital stay, convicted rapist Donald J. Trump’s visit to the front of a church with an upside down bible, convicted rapist Donald J. Trump’s oh my god any picture with convicted rapist Donald J. Trump.

      You’re against all that, right JGCK? Because otherwise you’d be a…what’s the word?

      Hypocrite.

      RaicesTexasDotOrg

    • OMG! Are you saying political campaigns do things to make their candidate look good?

      I’m shocked! Shocked!

      I’m sure you never pose for pictures. Because that would make this comment a bit, okay, a lot, hypocritical.

      Seriously, what does this loser add to the conversation?

Comments are closed.