Q-and-A with Apache Junction council candidate Christa Rizzi

Christa Rizzi

Two Apache Junction residents are running for mayor and four for three seats on the council in the Aug. 28 primary election. The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent e-mailed questionnaires to the candidates. They will be posted online in the order they were received.

Name: Christa Rizzi

Age: 50

Education: GED, some college (MCC, CAC and GCU); graduate of the Citizens Leadership Institute, 2005; certificate, fundamentals of finance and accounting, 2010; certificate, supervision and management. 2010; certificate, communication, 2010.

Present or most recent business/employment: Owner of Arizona Tiremen Services (2008-present); Apache Junction Unified School District (2004-2015).

Previous public office, boards and commissions (and what years): AJ City Council (2013-present); AJUSD School Board (2016-present); Apache Junction Drug Prevention Coalition (2008-present); Superstition Boys and Girls Club volunteer/member of FOB – (2007-present); Pinal County Juvenile Court Services (2004-16); AJ Planning and Zoning Commission – (2009-13); AJ Health and Human Services – (2008-13); AJ Municipal Property Corporation (2005-13); AJ Industrial Development Authority – (2005-08)

What is the role of the city council?: To hire and work closely with a qualified, experienced city manager who oversees city staff and manages day-to-day operations of our city government in an efficient, fiscally responsible, customer-service-oriented manner that will ensure a safe, high quality of life for all of our community members. We also ratify an annual balanced budget, create reasonable ordinances to ensure the safety and high quality of life and work to improve economic opportunities for our residents.

If elected, what will you accomplish in your first 100 days in office?: This is different for someone who is newly elected than for someone who has served previous terms as a council member. A person who’s new to the city council will be learning the ropes, getting familiar with the other council members, building working relationships and getting through their learning curve in their first 100 days. This will be my second term on the city council. If re-elected I will continue working with staff to revamp outdated ordinances, continue working to attract more businesses small and large, making sure we continue to protect our rural horse community and our small-town feel as we grow, continue to find ways to draw in more families and younger generations, continue bringing new events and activities for our community members, continue bringing the highest quality of life that we can for our residents, continue working with our local college and schools to ensure we have an educated work-ready workforce, continue building our tourist industry and creating more job opportunities.

What are your hopes for the city of Apache Junction?: That we never lose our small-town rural feel and equestrian community as we grow. That generations to come never forget our history, take pride in and protect what makes us unique from other communities. That future generations have even more educational and employment opportunities than my children had growing up here. That we always value the small family owned businesses and create a slower-paced, more pedestrian- and equestrian-friendly downtown. That we attract enough businesses, preferably unique small ones, to be able to reduce our sales tax. To own the property behind our focal point and have a beautiful resort at the base of our mountain. For our school district to become a top-rated public education system and regain enough enrollment to reopen all of our closed schools. To provide a wide range of year-round events and activities for all ages. To always remain a very kind, caring and generous community.

How would you rate the state of public transportation in the city of Apache Junction? What changes would you recommend?:: We really can’t rate a system that we don’t have. In past years Valley Metro provided limited bus routes in Apache Junction but had to discontinue those services because of a very low volume of usage that caused them to lose revenue. Public transportation is not free and as with any private company, if it’s not making money changes must be made. Continue working with the local transit system to bring bus service to Apache Junction as soon as we have enough riders to support it. I would also want to explore the renta-ride bicycle program until we know we can sustain public transportation.

Name one un-funded or under-funded program or project you would promote as a member of the city council and why?: A very large community garden that provided an opportunity for both young and older generations to work together. One that would be several acres including a walkable path with trees, benches, fish ponds and water fountains along the way that produced an abundance of both fresh fruits and vegetables for the community. It would be a great way to incorporate the natural fertilizer from our equestrian community, provide much-needed fresh produce at no cost to soup kitchens, food banks, school cafeterias and those in need. It creates a much-needed sense of personal ownership from our youngest of residents to our elderly. There is just something truly magical that happens when people come together for a community project that helps others.

What types of jobs does Apache Junction need?: What is your plan for economic development?: We need a diversified economy that supports opportunities for all walks of life from high paying corporate, to service and trade oriented to entrepreneurship. Individual council members do not generally execute individual economic plans. We work as a whole in collaboration with city staff to attract a variety of businesses both large and small along with clean industry to our community. There are several things that impact and generate these opportunities. Having connectivity to major highways, reasonable commercial property regulations and an educated workforce are all essential to attracting high paying industries to our region.

What makes you different from the other candidates?: In 2016 I became the first Apache Junction City Council member to also serve on our local school board. This has given me the opportunity to help bridge the gap between both entities and work on creating a much closer collaboration. I’m very passionate and excited to serve Apache Junction. I am very approachable and make myself highly accessible to my constituents through a variety of platforms including social media. I attend groups, clubs and meetings not only in our community but also throughout Pinal County and the East Valley to keep informed, engaged and to provide information and answer questions for community members.

How will you make a difference on the city council?: By being open-minded, honest, upbeat and approachable, staying closely connected, accessible and responsive to all of the people I serve, continually listening and learning about new ways to improve our city, continuing to network and build working relationships on a local and regional level and serving the community in a wide variety venues.

If residents of Gold Canyon petitioned to be annexed into the city of Apache Junction, would you vote yes? Why or why not?: Absolutely and it’s important to understand that annexation can only be done by the residents of Gold Canyon. If the residents of Gold Canyon wanted to annex I would want to fully support their efforts and there would be benefits to both communities by joining efforts. Annexation would provide increased funding for roads, police and fire services. It would also increase opportunities to attract big-box stores, high-end restaurants, hotels and resorts to our region. It would provide Gold Canyon residents the ability to serve on our boards and have representation on the city council. Gold Canyon residents could also participate in quarterly free dump week, utilize our animal control services and have a voice at table of regional decisions that will affect them.

What opportunities do you see for regional collaboration?: Working with our neighboring communities is a key catalyst for economic growth. Individual municipalities are far more successful by sharing a vision and planning together as a region. There’s power in numbers. When our sister communities are able to draw in transportation and employment opportunities it brings these same opportunities closer to our community for our own residents. We currently have a handshake agreement with our neighboring communities that establishes a clear understanding of our desired boundaries is critical for our future growth to the south. Regionally we also discuss and make collaborative decisions on freeway connectivity, airport flight patterns, regional economic growth and transportation.

In August voters will decide if a permanent base adjustment budget is approved in one election that would be adjusted annually by population and inflation. Are you in favor of this? Why or why not?: Yes, absolutely. Every four years we have to spend money by placing this item on the ballot for voter approval in order to use the funds we are currently budgeted for. Should at any time it not pass, the city would not be able to use the funds needed to keep our library, multi-gen center and animal-control center open. We would have to cut funding to our police department and be forced to use the funding formula dated back to 1978 when we first became a city and did not have any of these amenities. A permanent tax base is not in any way a tax increase and the city would actually save money (approximately $30,000) by not having to place this item on the ballot for approval every four years.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/christa.rizzi.

E-mail: crizzi@AJCity.Net.

Campaign office phone number: 480-330-7744.

 

The Apache Junction Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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