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We endorse Lord, Campbell, Pizzillo, Hampton

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Goodyear’s City Council election is March 14. The West Valley View and the Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce sponsored a candidate forum Feb. 28. If you weren’t able to attend, please read the recap on Page 1. And if you haven’t yet mailed your ballot, we hope you consider our two cents’ worth.

Current Mayor Georgia Lord is running against former Mayor Jim Cavanaugh. Incumbents Wally Campbell and Joe Pizzillo and newcomers Jayson Black, Sara Gilligan and Brannon Hampton are all running for three council seats. Councilwoman Sharolyn Hohman chose not to seek re-election after serving one term.

Endorsements are never easy and this is no exception.

Let’s start with the three newcomers. All three are well educated and energetic. We’re impressed with Black’s stance on vouchers for private schools. The Incito public charter school principal is vehemently opposed to them since they take money away from public schools and give it to private schools. We like that Gilligan is currently enrolled in Leadership Enrichment and Development, or LEAD, the rebranded Citizen’s Academy that teaches participants how local government works.

But we’re most impressed with Hampton, who has served on the city’s General Plan Committee for 2025 — a year-and-a-half commitment — graduated from the Citizens Academy and has attended 90 percent of all council meetings over the last seven months. The 34-year-old comes with a stellar resume for problem solving, working as a project manager at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. He ran four years ago and although we didn’t endorse him then, it wasn’t because we thought him unqualified, we just thought Hohman was more qualified. The fact that he’s running again demonstrates his commitment to the city he’s lived in for the last nine years. Goodyear residents would be lucky to have Hampton representing them.

We’re firm believers in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and are throwing our support behind Campbell and Pizzillo. One of the things we like most about Campbell is her knack for explaining issues in layman’s terms. She also serves on about a bazillion committees and boards and can be found at just about every city function. She epitomizes a public servant. Pizzillo’s financial background — he’s a former city budget manager who teaches accounting and finance at several universities — is a boon for any council. He also serves on a plethora of committees and boards. Perhaps one of his most admirable attributes is his refusal to take all the credit for accomplishments he’s championed, stating at the Feb. 28 forum, “It takes at least four votes to get anything done. It’s a team effort.”

Now let’s move on to the two candidates running for mayor.

Goodyear’s tax rate is always a highly debated topic and this election is no exception. Some think the city’s taxes are too high, others think they’re comparable to other Valley cities’ and are necessary if residents want to continue to enjoy their current standard of living. Cavanaugh stated at the forum, “We’re one of the highest taxed cities in the Valley.” But Lord took a different approach and placed the issue squarely on the residents’ shoulders, saying, “You the citizens have to decide your quality of life. If you feel that your quality of life is too high, we can lower it to save you money, then you must come before the council and declare that.” We like that kind of representation.

Another hot issue for the West Valley city is the annexation of Mobile. Mobile is about 90 miles south of the city’s center. The council voted to annex the rural area when a developer promised thousands of rooftops. After the annexation was complete, the developer went belly up and Mobile looks as it did then — a handful of mobile homes and a school with essentially no infrastructure. But Goodyear is now responsible for providing city services to its southern residents. We were thrilled to hear Cavanaugh, who was mayor at the time of the annexation, say it was a mistake. We were less than thrilled with Lord’s using the economy as an excuse to justify a bad decision. She said during the forum, “I guess nobody wants to make a mistake, and I’m not so sure, we didn’t vote on that making a mistake, we voted on it, it was solid, and we thought that was going to happen. What happened was the economy, we don’t have much control over that, right?” We disagree. Even if the developer had stayed in the game and given the city everything it promised, annexing to broaden the tax base is never a good idea. But annexing a chunk of land that far away with no reliable way to even get there was dumb, dumb, dumb! Especially for a city that’s not even close to being fully developed, with some estimates putting it at only 10 percent. The city doesn’t have a time machine and is stuck with Mobile, but kudos to Cavanaugh for standing up and admitting it was a mistake.

That all being said, we still can’t get past Cavanaugh’s hasty departure from the council about seven years ago. If it had been for personal reasons, we’d completely understand, but it wasn’t. In a nutshell, he couldn’t get along with the rest of the council so he took his ball and went home. Current council members seem to be more aligned with Lord’s point of view than Cavanaugh’s, so why would we have any reason to think he wouldn’t pull the same stunt?

We urge Goodyear residents to keep Lord, Campbell and Pizzillo and add Hampton to the City Council.

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