Mayor Stanton: Diamondbacks Belong in Downtown Phoenix

Published: Friday, May 11, 2018 - 2:23pm
Updated: Friday, May 11, 2018 - 2:55pm
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Mark Brodie/KJZZ
Greg Stanton in KJZZ's studios.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s time leading the state’s biggest city is coming to an end.

He announced last year he’d run for Congress in the 9th District, and has to resign as mayor by the end of the month.

Stanton has been involved in city government for a while now, both on the city council and then as mayor.

He joined The Show this Friday to discuss his career up to this point and his future in politics.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

On the most important change in Phoenix over the past several years:
"The one big change has been really right before our very eyes. Our economy's heading in the right direction. We used to be an economy that was so overly reliant on real estate and growth and suburban sprawl. And that was one of the knocks on us and in fact, after the last recession, when we got hit harder than any other big city people said, 'What's the future of Phoenix?'

I'll tell you what the future Phoenix is: a healthcare, innovation, building and export-based economy. And we've done it, and now we actually get complimented by the credit rating agencies when they review Phoenix saying that the diversity of our economy is now a strength, where just six or eight years ago that was considered probably our greatest weakness."

On the state of pension payments for the city:
"It’s important for folks listening to understand two different kinds of pensions.

Civilian pension, that's what we run at the City of Phoenix. You don't hear about that anymore. And the reason is we went through three rounds of pension reform and as a result, city employees have to pay a lot more to receive a pension. The benefits are less and it's actually the city pension, the civilian pension, is in much better shape than when I started out on the public safety side of things.

Police and fire, it's more expensive than it used to be. That's going to have to be dealt with at a statewide level. We have gone through one round of pension reform for police and fire. My guess is that there'll be more coming in the future, but it won’t be dealt with on a city by city basis, that will have to be more of a macro issue statewide."

On the agreement between Maricopa County and the Diamondbacks:
"We love having the Diamondbacks in downtown Phoenix. And we believe — I believe — that the long-term location for the Diamondbacks should be in downtown Phoenix.

It is centrally located and it benefits so many of the great restaurants and bars and other things that are happening downtown Phoenix. There’s so much life and vibrancy.

Under the agreement — and by the way, we couldn't talk about this a lot previously because it was under the aura of litigation, and so when people are talking about litigation, there's not a lot of polite conversation going on that should be happening. Now we can begin to have those conversations, so the agreement was just reached this week. And so I look forward to having conversations with the Diamondbacks for how they can best secure the future in downtown Phoenix. That's where they belong. That's where I think the fans want them.

It may involve looking at renovations to that stadium. It may involve development rights around the stadium because it's such a popular location and that area has gotten to be such hot real estate. But I will keep an open mind and listen to … obviously my time as mayor will not be too much longer. But at least during my time as mayor, I'm going to make sure, as I've said in the past, that the Diamondbacks belong in downtown Phoenix and that is in the best interests of everyone involved."

On whether #RedForEd movement will spark similar movements with first responders:
"I come from a family of educators. My mom was an English teacher. My little sister right now for 20 years has been a special education teacher in the Cartwright district. My brother is superintendent of Washington Elementary School District,  so I was so proud when they stood up for themselves and said, ‘This is the right thing to do.’

When it comes to other important interests, including supporting our first responders, police officers and firefighters. I don't know if the movement would take exactly apples-to-apples, if you will, with RedForEd, but for them to speak loudly and say that we are important players in this community and the issues and concerns to us and our members need to be better take into account.

Absolutely. And that's called the political process. And so just to the extent that we're probably going to see others more vocally stand up for themselves and their positions as a result of RedForEd? I actually think that's a great thing for our community."

On the biggest challenges facing Phoenix right now:
"One: water. Water is such a massive issue. Climate change is real and we're dealing with it here in Arizona. I know some people think climate change is an issue that only affects coastal cities because of rising water tables, etc. No, it's hurting us right now here in Phoenix, when it comes to extreme heat, when it comes to forest fire, when it comes to drought issues.

Also we talked about RedForEd. But beyond that, is there going to be a long-term commitment to supporting public education here in the state of Arizona? As mayor I spent more time on the hyper-competitive economic development game than anything else, but the feeling that we don't have as strong of a commitment to K-12 education and higher education and community colleges as we need to is a competitive disadvantage."

And then also, look, homelessness — it's an issue but it's about people. We're doing more to support people experiencing homelessness try to break the cycle of homelessness than ever before, and we're going to have to do a lot of soul searching. Not just as a city, as a state and the other cities in the Valley if we're really going to be serious about doing what it takes to break the cycle of homelessness.

On whether he has a date in mind to resign as mayor:
"I will not be announcing on this show. But obviously the hard deadline, of course, is the time period where the signatures are due for the new office. We do have resign-to-run laws in the state of Arizona.

But because there were so many important policy issues that still needed to get done at the city, I did make the decision that I was going to stay until this time period and I will be making that announcement in the very near future."

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