Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org
The Phoenix City Council elections are being considered by some political insiders as being one of the most “highly contested” that the community has seen in years and District 8 is no exception. The City Council seat for District 8 is currently held by Councilman Michael E. Johnson and he has served since 1992. His final term will end on December 31, 2013. The candidates who are running for this seat are Kate Gallego, Carolyn T. Lowery, Lawrence Robinson, Luis Rodriguez, and Rev. Warren Stewart.
Kate Gallego is currently an economic-development strategist at the Salt River Project. Her political experience includes former chairwoman, Phoenix Environmental Quality Commission; vice chairwoman, PlanPHX, the city’s 10-year General Plan. “I’m running because I want to help the city I love become a safer, more sustainable and more prosperous community that we are all proud to call home.”
Carolyn T. Lowery is a longtime community activist in District 8. Lowery has not held any political offices but wanted to run because she “felt that we the poor and people needing help was not being represented and our cry for help was not being heard. I feel that we have been betrayed too long by our leaders, and we are tired of it.”
Lawrence Robinson is a law professor at Phoenix School of Law and current board member on the Roosevelt Elementary School District governing board. He decided to run for Phoenix City Council because “District 8 is my home. I was born here and still attend the same church where I was baptized. As a child marching in support of recognizing the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday here in Arizona, I learned first-hand the importance of standing up for what is right in our community. The woman I called ‘Granny,’ the first African American female judge in this city and state, and my mother, a teacher, small business owner, and single mother taught me the value of hard work, education, and faith. My family and community have molded me and have always guided my passion to fight for this city.”
Luis Rodriguez is a retired U.S. Army warrant officer, analyst. Rodriguez is running for the seat because he “is tired of the same politics as usual. Luis wants to bring accountability and efficiency to our government, lower taxes, and encourage economic growth through business and private investment in the City of Phoenix”.
Rev. Warren Stewart is the pastor at Phoenix First Institutional Baptist Church. He has served on the board of the national Immigration Forum in 2012 and co-formed the Black/Brown Coalition of Arizona. As stated at Arizona Central/Arizona Republic Stewart decided to run for the District 8 seat “to find solutions to the challenges facing our families and neighborhoods in District 8. I am running to put public safety at the top of the list, to get a hospital that can serve people south of Buckeye Road, to put people back to work and to make transportation choices available to every resident of our district. And I am running to honor the dignity of the office I am seeking, and to far exceed the expectations of those who trust us to do the right thing. I am also running because I believe service on the City Council will be an extension of my 35 years of service to the Phoenix community. I believe District 8 can be a role model for the other districts in leveraging our diversity and the things we have in common to affect a better quality of life for residents.”
One of the more heated topics of the campaign for the city council seat is the food tax and has come up for discussion at a number of the forums being held. The current 2 percent tax on food in Phoenix is going to expire in 2015. The tax was created to assist in maintaining city services at a time when the city faced a $277 million budget shortfall. Kate Gallego and Rev. Warren Stewart support cutting half of the tax early. Luis Rodriguez is not in favor of a food tax. Rodriguez stated at both the forum on the July 9th and 17th that the food tax is “for police and fire,” but has not been used for that. Lawrence Robinson feels very strongly that the food tax needs to continue. At the forum on July 9th at the Salvation Army Kroc Corps Community Center Robinson stated “The few dollars it would cost every resident compared to the detrimental effects it will cost our neighborhoods is dangerous, and it really deserves a critical and honest answer”.
Video taken by phxazburrito at the district forum on July 9th:
On Wednesday, July 17th another candidates forum was held at South Mountain Community College. The topics of this particular forum were ones that were provided by the audience, both before the forum and during. Some of the topics brought up included what to do with the vacant property in District 8, transportation, education, discrimination and LGBTQ concerns.
Video taken by phxazburrito regarding discrimination and LGBTQ rights:
At the forum on July 17th one of the questions from the audience was raised about the future of Loop 2002 freeway. This is one topic that all 5 candidates agreed with. They all feel the Loop 202 should proceed forward even though the residents of the Gila Reservation are opposed to it.
The primary election will be held on August 27th. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held in November. The next candidates forum for Phoenix City Council District 8 will be held on Tuesday, July 23rd at Greater Bethel AME Church.