The LIVING Interview (continued) continued from page 74... phone number? MAYOR JACKSON: I have it. Thank you. And Steve and I have had this conversation, you know, that if, if you’re going to go after a county-wide sales tax increase for transportation, you need to be very clear about where you’re gonna spend it. Because if you’re not going to spend any of it in the cities, then why should the people of Casa Grande who are already getting a third of what they should be getting in the half-cent sales tax support something like that? Haven’t got a good answer yet, but certainly, over the next year or so, as the election gets closer, it’s going to become an issue. GC LIVING: So, what is it? What do you want your legacy to be? MAYOR JACKSON: I would hope that, that when I walk out of office, number one, and we’ve said this earlier, that people are better off today than they were when we started. I ran on two or three things that I thought were important. One of them is we needed to bring jobs in here, and I think that the economic development business takes three or four years to cultivate. And certainly over the last two or three years, I mean we’ve got a Sam’s Club, we’ve got a yogurt plant, we’ve got a cream cheese plant, we’ve seen expansions of Hexcel, ACO Polymer, Frito-Lay. We have created a couple thousand jobs, and in a community our size - we’re 50,000 people - so our workforce is probably 21,000, 22,000 people. Think about 10% of them have jobs they didn’t have before. Tractor Supply, we just landed them. We’re talking to prospects today that will increase that job total even more. And I think, first and foremost, that’s what I want to be known for, that we did a good job of bringing new industry into town that helped us diversify our economy and put people back to work. Second, I ran on a, on a platform of we need to get along with our neighbors better and right now, every other month, the mayors of Maricopa, Eloy, Coolidge, Casa Grande, Florence and Marana, get together and have lunch, in one of the five or six cities. Unscripted, no agenda, just sit down and, and talk about issues. The beauty that that’s created is that when something happens on our borders, I can call up, say, Christian Price on the phone and say, “Hey, Christian, what’s going on with this?” And
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it’s not the mayor of Casa Grande talking to the mayor of Maricopa; its Christian Price and Bob Jackson talking as friends. It’s made a huge difference in the relationship between the cities. And that was so important that I thought when I ran that we had pretty much burned our bridges with most of our neighbors that we needed to fix those. I think if we sit here today, one of the conversations that Jim Thompson and I are having, is we’ve come off about 200 million dollars in infrastructure projects. Where do we want to spend the next 200? That will be long after my time in office, but we need to start having those discussions today because it’s going to take that long for them to happen. Oh, and the third one is Phoenix Mart, and while we could go on a whole long discussion about Phoenix Mart, when that finally happens, it will be a game-changer for our community. GC LIVING: So, an easy way to look at it is, you’re an engineer … MAYOR JACKSON: I am. GC LIVING: … and as mayor you expanded infrastructure, and kept everything on track and on budget and created jobs … MAYOR JACKSON: Mm-hmm. GC LIVING: … and accomplished … in a very difficult economic environment, extremely good stewardship. MAYOR JACKSON: Well, and, and keep in mind that it didn’t happen as one person. It is truly a team effort. We’ve got a great staff and the council, for the most part, understands where we’re trying to go and we all agree on where we want to go. We just don’t all agree on how to get there all the time. GC LIVING: And that would be more quality of life issues? MAYOR JACKSON: Yes. GC LIVING: Performing arts centers, recreation centers. MAYOR JACKSON: You bet. GC LIVING: Trail systems. MAYOR JACKSON: Yup, and we talk about site selectors coming in for new companies. First thing they look at is education. Next thing they look at is availability of land and cost and workforce and those kinds of things. But somewhere in that top five or six on the list is quality of life issues, and if you don’t have the quality of life issues, they may locate their facility here, but their plant manager is gonna live up in the valley.
That’s why those quality of life issues are so critical. GC LIVING: Okay. As you look forward in the next year, there are some political races coming up. What have you heard about who will be running for mayor and/or what are your thoughts on the environment that’s already forming leading up to the next elections? MAYOR JACKSON: Well, I will say, first of all, I’ve, I’ve heard the same rumors everybody else has, okay, so I’m not trying to be coy about it, but I’m not sure that people want me to put them out of the closet in the magazine about their name. GC LIVING: Well, give us a scoop. MAYOR JACKSON: Yeah. Uh … GC LIVING: Come on. MAYOR JACKSON: But here is the deal. I think that, if people feel that we made progress in my tenure on the council, then they need to probably replace me with somebody that is like-minded. And if you don’t like where we’ve gone over the last six, or seven, or eight years, then maybe you need a change of outlook. And I think that, and I don’t want to sound self-serving about it, but I really do think we’ve made a lot of progress in the last seven or eight years, and I hope whoever comes in to take my place has a similar mindset about how do we get ourselves from 55,000 people in a regional center into being the center of the megapolitan area of Phoenix and Tucson. I said a couple of years ago with my State of the City - and I was absolutely serious - we used to be a city that was afraid that we’re gonna get gobbled up by Phoenix or Tucson. And what we need to do and I think we’re well on the way of doing that, is create our own identity, so that when Phoenix and Tucson show up at our doorstep, and you know they will eventually, we can say, “Hey, we’re really glad you’re here. Welcome to our town.” And so, we’re dictating what our future will be, instead of letting them do that. And I think that, as you look at the mayoral and council candidates that are coming, that will pop up, who has the, the future-looking, or the foresight to say, “Here’s where we need to get to, how are we going to do it?” as opposed to looking backwards and saying, “Well, I remember what Casa Grande looked like 10 years ago, and I was really happy with that. Why are we chang-
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