Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell is a living example of the local mayor working for the good of the local residential and business communities depicted in works like Bruce Katz’s The New Localism and The Metropolitan Revolution.
A professed pragmatic progressive problem-solver, Mitchell has served as Tempe’s Mayor since 2012. Previous to that, he was a member of the Tempe City Council. He has launched a bid to run for a third term as mayor in elections to be held on March 10, 2020.
During Mitchell’s tenure, Tempe has seen growth in commerce, employment, population, people holding college degrees, and income. While inequality has been reduced, poverty is high compared to the national average and homeownership has slightly declined over the last year. A recent annual survey given to the Citizens of Tempe showed a large degree of satisfaction with city services and other areas.
In a third term, Mayor Mitchell wants to continue what he has started and work on the issues that still need tending to.
Mr. Mitchell sat down at the Press Café across from the Tempe Arts Center and passionately discussed his performance as Mayor and his vision for going forward.
The questions and the Mayor’s responses are below.
- What are at least two reasons you are the best person to continue as Mayor of Tempe?
“I have experience. I’ve been through the ups and downs of the economy. We’ve seen the good times and hard times and now doing well. It is important to understand where we’ve been in order to understand where we’re heading. I am also the past president of Arizona League of Cities and Towns and Chair of Maricopa Association of Governments (Municipal Planning Organization that is how you plan transit and plan economic development.)”
- Please list your two proudest achievements as Tempe Mayor.
“We are a successful city. We are investing in our neighborhoods (the cornerstone of the community) and city parks (the cornerstone of our neighborhoods where there is one every square mile.). We are the first city to become a dementia-friendly city, We are the first city in Arizona to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance, passed on of Arizona’s first equal pay ordinance for women, and institute an anti-dirty money measure. 33,000 new jobs have been created since 2012 with three billion in capital investment. We have a sustainability commission where we have developed a climate action plan with renewable energy goals. I led the initiative to promote the arts in the community. I want my daughters to experience the great childhood I did but that much better and want to increase the quality of life for future generations.”
- Please list two instances you wish you could do over again as Tempe Mayor.
“Our biggest challenge is the state legislature who try to thwart local control/ordinances. Finding the right method in which we Communicate information regarding city programs and projects to our residents.”
- In your opinion, what are the three strengths of the City of Tempe?
- “Our residents! We engage our residents regarding our goals and vision for Tempe.”
- “Our neighborhoods, which are the cornerstone of our community and our parks which are the cornerstone of our neighborhoods.” We are investing 60 million dollars over the next five years into our parks.”
- “Tempe is a city of choice. “Our economy and our businesses who partner with our civic organizations. Tempe loves local! We are home to a lot of great local companies like Cartel Cafe, Laura’s Granola, Changing Hands Bookstore, Honeymoon Suites, and Infusion Café. We are innovative, creating innovation hubs throughout our city.”
- In your opinion, what are three areas that warrant improvement in the City of Tempe?
“Public safety, roads and infrastructure, and transportation and traffic. We have plans for all of it. We are investing 80 million dollars on our streets and city right of ways over the next 5 years. Our state has swept our highway user funds. We’re playing catch up. With regards to traffic, we are a multi mobile community. We are expanding Orbit south of the city thanks to a dedicated tax and growing economic base that funds it. The Street Car and light rail expansion is a true private-public partnership with all sides (federal, business, and local government) investing in it. We are investing in new fire stations, more police officers, and more technologies.”
- As Mayor, what are the three most important issues that you would want the Tempe City Council and Mayoral staff to address?
“ The quality of our streets, our neighborhoods, public safety and communication with our residents. We are very lucky to have an informed citizenry that supports the vision we are laying out. There is always room for improvement. The State Legislature should not interfere with local control (see Sedona and Bisbee). Cities are the economic driving force for our states. The majority of residents in AZ live in cities or towns. We have had a tremendous success record with affordable housing. Since becoming mayor, we are one of the first cities to adopt an affordable housing strategy. We are looking to add 16,500 more affordable and workforce housing (through organizations like Habitat, New Town, Gracies Village) over the last two years. Our biggest asset is human capital and what we have done for human services where we invested 18 million last year for human services, housing vouchers, and assistance. We have a working group with the other local city mayors to help the homeless.”
- What are at least three (one each) plans you would like to implement to make Tempe a better place for:
- Tempe’s Residents:
“We are investing in the quality of life for our residents and setting us up to be sustainable for future generations like neighborhoods, transportation, parks, and arts. One of the biggest challenges is improving and maintaining the quality of life for our residents. We are investing in our assets, investing 60 million dollars into our parks over the next five years, investing 80 million dollars over the next five years in our streets and right of ways, and investing 25.9 million over the next 5 years on our CIP for police department. My job as a Mayor is to bring the diverse community we have together. We are very fortunate to have been called an All American City twice (once as I have been on the council) and cited by America’s Promise for their work with Tempe Non for Profits.”
2. Tempe’s Commercial Interests:
“We are going to continue to grow the IDEA (Innovation, Discovery, Education, and Arts Campus) and it will build an additional a million square feet of research and development. Becton Dickson is taking the first building under construction. We have expanded Discovery and ASU Research Park. Tempe Marketplace is expanding. We are responsible for water usage to sustain Tempe for future generations.”
3. Tempe’s Cultural and Educational Centers:
“We have tremendous assets and were investing in them heavily that will expand arts and cultures throughout the community. That is something citizens and businesses gravitate towards.”
- Is there anything you would like the voter to know about you that was not addressed in the first five questions?
“Tempe is a magnet or people to move in and raise their families.”
“I am honored to serve as mayor. I am passionate to serve and want to do more for my children and future generations. I appreciate the faith the voters have placed in me and I am committed to improving the quality of life for our residents and future generations and I am open and receptive to new ideas.”
If reelected in March 2020, Mr. Mitchell has promised to continue the pragmatic progressive policies he has pursued in his first two terms.
He has a record of accomplishment to run on and he still has the passion to work for the people of Tempe.
He is a candidate voters in Tempe should consider when deciding who to support in 2020.