By CAROLYN DRYER, Editor
Audience members at the Glendale Chamber of Commerce candidate forum listened politely Oct. 7 as candidates for city council seats in the Barrel, Cholla and Ocotillo districts answered questions posed by a three-member panel during a luncheon at the Renaissance-Glendale hotel.
Michelle Rider, Chairman and CEO, WESTMARC
Dave Mitchell, President, Glendale Chamber of Commerce
Jeff Blake, Intentional Solutions
Lauren Tolmachoff gave her background in banking (15 years) and now as a Realtor. She reiterated the reason she is running; a potential real estate property buyer told her she did not want to buy in Glendale because of the $225 million the city was giving to a hockey team.
“I was raised to step up or shut up,” Tolmachoff said.
Gary Deardorff said there were four issues that caused him to run: No more bad deals; stop the chaos; job growth; and ethics. He said he learned ethics as a combat marine in Vietnam.
“I see like so many of you, city council is disorganized,” Deardorff said, adding there is also unethical behavior present.
Bart Turner gave his background as a Glendale native, having attended Sine Elementary, Apollo High School and Northern Arizona University. He also obtained a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard. He is semi-retired and manages family owned properties.
Randy Miller began his presentation talking about the city entering into questionable contracts, cutting of funds, and his desire to see a forum, where citizens would have more than five minutes of input.
Norma Alvarez gave her background working 35 years in the city’s Community Action Program.
“I voted against the tax increase. It will not solve the problem,” Alvarez said. “It is an additional burden to taxpayers.”
Regarding the proposed casino, Alvarez said, “It’s not about gaming, it’s about jobs.”
She also said the city needs to renegotiate contracts with the Arizona Coyotes sports team and private businesses.
Jamie Aldama said he was born and raised in Glendale and has lived here 46 years. To clear up residency questions, Aldama said he has lived 35 years in the Ocotillo district, and after the redistricting of 2010 moved him into the Yucca district, he moved back to Ocotillo.
Aldma is an employee of Glendale Community College, and is vice chairman of Glendale Planning Commission.
“My quest is to re-image the City of Glendale,” Aldama said.
Questions and answers:
Tolmachoff was asked to describe the culture of top management of the city and if it is ineffective, could it be changed by council. Tolmachoff said everything done at the city has to be out in the open. She said the city has made a lot of progress with its budget, but that trust needs to be reestablished.
“I’m all about putting it all out there and letting people decide,” she said.
Turner was asked to say how he would fix the city’s economy and budget.
Turner said it was decisions by city council that put the city in the situation it is in.
“We renegotiated our agreement with the City of Phoenix,” he said. “I am not the least bit reluctant to support the half-cent sales tax. You have to be bleeding pretty badly, but it’s like a tourniquet, relief.”
Alvarez responded to a question about her plans to bring economic vitality to the city.
She said, “We need to work together with downtown businesses. Restructure the marketing department, work with the business community to schedule events to help them. We have neglected businesses in downtown.”
When asked what he thought Glendale should be doing differently to attract more residents and businesses, Deardorff replied, “Glendale is on the move. It cost 25 percent of our staff.”
He praised the city’s quality of life, saying, “I don’t fear getting up and outside running. I’m so excited about Glendale. You need to be excited.”
Miller’s response to a question about the top issue was “budget and debt.”
“Stop reckless, wasteful spending,” Miller said, adding that whatever is done by the city should be for the benefit of citizens, not the city council.
He is in favor of renegotiating contracts if it can be done. He also believes that with the work of the planning commission, city staff and city council, Loop 303 can become an economic engine “and Glendale can get out of this hole.”
Aldama and Alvarez agreed on one thing: Glendale is an “example city,” (Alvarez) and a “champion city,” (Aldama).
“Let the west side areas know we are leaders,” Alvarez said, lamenting, however, that the city does not have honesty for taxpayers.
Aldama said, “What we do and decisions we make, we are a champion city. Anything good we do has an effect on economic development, housing.”
He called on the city to support its employees and bring economic development.
He said, “I’ll do everything in my power to re-image Glendale.”
Tolmachoff answered a question about how the sales tax increase retention has affected different types of businesses and what those business owners have to say about it. She said she has talked to smaller businesses that are affected, and citizens who said they now go to a different Costco, not in Glendale.
“We’re competing with Peoria at 1.6 percent,” Tolmachoff said.
She said the city’s property tax rate is higher and the city is not going to tax its way out of its situation.
Deardorff was asked about his qualifications to be a councilmember and why he wanted to seek the office. He mentioned his 40 years in the financial services business, and he manages $65 million of people’s money.
“I know what integrity is,” Deardorff said. “It’s not what I say; I have to prove it.”
Miller, when asked a question about whether a person should be able to speak their mind at council meetings without reprisal, responded by saying, “Yes, you should be able to state your opinion. You should feel safe to step in front of council.”
Aldama said he believes the city is moving forward when it comes to transparency. He vows to stand by any vote he makes.
Alvarez said although she was not a good public speaker, she believes she has done a lot of good, and has advocated for the public to get involved.
Miller said he is bringing 20 years of experience from his U.S. Marine Corps career, and he can work both sides of that table.
“If it’s not good for Glendale, it’s just not good,” he said. “It’s good for Glendale or it’s out of here.”
Turner said Glendale is a place people come to live because of its quality of life.
“The opportunities in Glendale are great,” Turner said.
Deardorff said, “I’m reminded I’m here to serve you and not me. City council is disorganized,” and he would restore unethical behavior and replace it with honesty and integrity.
Tolmachoff said her family history dates back 100 years in Glendale.
“I was raised to work hard, tell the truth,” she said.
Tolmachoff’s next statements caught her opponent Deardorff by surprise when she said, “I’ve never been sued except by my opponent.”
Deardorff objected, saying that was unethical.
But Tolmachoff did not back down.
It should be noted Deardorff challenged Tolmachoff’s petitions, and lost his case in court, and managed to get on the ballot by a slim margin of two signatures.
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