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The LIVING Interview (continued) continued from page 50... vote … the worst issue they’ve voted on? I mean the worst outcome, in your opinion? MAYOR JACKSON: Wow. You know I can’t think of one. I’m sure there’s plenty. But I’ll tell you one of my problems is, and I have this problem when I do my State of the City address every year. I’m not really good at looking back. You know? And so when people say, well, ‘what did you do last year’, I was like, “Eh, I don’t know.” I’m coming up on my final fifteen months in office. GC LIVING: You’re not running for anything else?! MAYOR JACKSON: I have a State of the City address that I usually do in March and it will be my last one. So I thought, you know what, it would be kind of fun to look back over the nine years that I’ve been in office and say, “Okay, when I came into office in 2007, where were we, and where are we today, and are we better off?” And like most politicians as I look at that I say to myself, “I really believe we are.” We’ve weathered one of the worst recessions in history, we’ve done a lot of work in the city, we’ve moved the city forward at a time when a lot of cities aren’t doing that. One of the primary things I ran on was and I’m guilty of that as anybody else - we kind of try to hide in the shadow of Maricopa County a little bit. You know, we do pretty innovative and wonderful things down here, but we don’t want those people up there to know what we’re doing. And I remember Jim [Thompson, City Manager] and I are having this discussion probably less than two years in to my first term. And we’d said, “You know what, the money’s up there. If we’re going to get any progress in our community, we need to let those guys know what we’re doing down here.” So we really made an effort to better engage with business leaders and community leaders up in the valley. And I think that’s really helped, because now ... you know I was just at a meeting for the guy who’s trying to unveil a brand new project here in town, and, a big project, I have no idea what the cost is but ... international scope, huge, eighteen hundred acres, and it’s predominately commercial industrial. And, he got done with the presentation, I went up and introduced myself to him and said, “You know, even though you’re not in this city’s

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limits you’re in our planning area, so if we can help just feel free to call me.” And he’s out in the valley and he goes, “You know, we came down here because we’re hearing such good things about Casa Grande. That’s the difference between where we were in 06’ and where we are today. And part of that is just the natural evolution of the city. I think it was kind of the perfect storm. We did some pretty innovative things early, and caught some people’s attention, and that will leverage into good stuff. That didn’t answer your question I got off track I’m sorry. GC LIVING: That’s fine. You mentioned Jim Thompson. Speaking of Jim, how do you rate his management of the city Casa Grande? MAYOR JACKSON: I will tell you a funny story about that. When I was running for mayor, there was a rumor running around the city that I was running to get rid of Jim Thompson. And while that rumor wasn’t true, it wasn’t my place to say anything about it. So I get elected and my first day in office I go in to city hall and of course Jim comes in and he wants to talk to me, because we didn’t really know each other that well. And I could tell he was a little tentative about it, you know? GC LIVING: Hahaha. MAYOR JACKSON: “Jim,” I said, “I know you’ve heard the rumors, that I was running to get rid of you.” And I said, “I want you to know that’s not why I’m here. And if I get unhappy with you, you’re gonna be the first person to know it. I’m not going to sit here and beat around the bush about it. And over the eight years that we worked together we haven’t always agreed on things, but I think the primary issue we both agree on is one, move the community forward, and two, we want to leave it better than it was when we got here. And I think, you know Jim has had some recent hiccups with things, but we would not be in the financial shape we are today if it had not been for Jim Thompson. We saw our bond rating rise three times during a recession. That’s almost unheard of. We did two hundred million dollars worth of public infrastructure during that time period. And because the contractors wanted work so badly, we not only got good prices on stuff, we got the A+ workers because they’re trying to keep their good people busy. So we got great bang for the buck, raising the bond rate, while that doesn’t mean a lot to a lot of people, it is a function

of the interest rate you pay on it. So we issued, I don’t know sixty million dollars worth of bonds on the waste water treatment plant over twenty years. The difference between the bond rating we started at and the bond rating we ended at is a difference of about two hundred and forty thousand dollars a year, over twenty years. It’s a big number. Jim has brought in some really good leaders. And cities are like big businesses. You run in cycles, you hire a bunch of people and they’re all the same age and they all leave at the same time. And Jim has been fortunate to be able to hire a lot of the key department heads, and by and large, most of his decisions have been right on. You might not always agree with him, but I think that for what the city needed at the time they came in, they were the right people to put in place. He has also done a really good job I think of mentoring Larry Rains. Larry could certainly be a city manager anywhere in the country if he chose to be. But I think he would tell you that he stays in Casa Grande for a variety of reasons, one of which is there’s still a challenge here. We’re still doing some innovative things, you could see things that are right on the horizon ready to happen. And I think Larry wants to be a part of those. So when Jim decides to retire, and you know his scheduled retirement date is some time in the next eighteen months, the council is going to have to make a decision on who to replace him with. And I hope they look very favorably at Larry. He has done a great job, he’s a great guy, he knows the community, and I think he has learned a lot from working with Jim. GC LIVING: Okay. You wouldn’t say what was the worst thing that happened on your watch. What’s the best thing that happened on your watch and this question’s going to lead into the statement or your answer, what do you think your legacy is? MAYOR JACKSON: You know you and I talked about this earlier, and I think that there are several things that I’m really proud of as I look back over the last eight years. One that I think the jury is still out on is the Grande Sports World. And I know certainly Dick has been really critical about that through the course of the last few months, but here’s the deal; we were going to build soccer fields somewhere in town because we have

continued on page 62... THE THE LEADERSHIP LEADERSHIPEDITION EDITION

Profile for ROX Media Group

Golden Corridor Living Magazine  

Fall 2015

Golden Corridor Living Magazine  

Fall 2015