Executive Committee Spotlight

Name, title & city/town
John W. Lewis
Mayor, Town of Gilbert

Year elected to office: 2009

Years served on Executive Committee: New member of the Executive Committee as of August 2012

Hometown: Provo, Utah

Why did you decide to serve in local government?
The town of Gilbert's website focuses on three important words: "A Service Organization." City/town elected officials understand that when we run for office we are offering our time and talents to join great service teams. Gilbert is an example of an outstanding group of public servants who give their all to provide core services to a community in an efficient, cost-effective, and customer service friendly way. You might say that I decided to run for mayor to have a chance to participate in a service-opportunity of a lifetime!

What are the biggest challenges facing your town today?
Gilbert is currently home to 220,000 citizens, making us the 99th largest city in the United States. At build-out we estimate that 330,000 citizens will live in our community, potentially making us the 53rd largest city in the country. While two-thirds of Gilbert's land has been used for residential areas allowing families and individuals to build homes, only 1/3 of the land designated for businesses has been utilized. We are a "bedroom community" that needs to become a "bedroom/business community." With continued emphasis on business building we will accomplish that vision. For larger businesses to be attracted to Gilbert, we will need to keep economic development as a high priority strategic initiative, preserve our community engagement in education (one of our great selling assets) and maintain our clean, safe, and vibrant image. The larger businesses will help support our medium and smaller businesses and will also provide financial sustainability for the future of our community.

What opportunities do you see for your community?
Gilbert has seen tremendous growth with a 500 percent increase in our population during the past 10 years, which some may view as a challenge. However, we have been have been able to capitalize on this unprecedented growth and use this to attract new businesses, residents, hospitals, and a large shopping mall. During the next decade, an additional 100,000 citizens will move to Gilbert. This will create additional opportunities for growth and expansion. To attract new high-wage jobs, our economic development plans will focus on advancing science and technology-based organizations with an emphasis on the biomedical and life sciences industry. We were recently named as the 33rd Best Place to Live in America by Money Magazine and were again recognized as the safest municipality of our size in the state. We view Gilbert as a land of opportunity!

What are you most proud of during your time in office?
While I am new to the Executive Committee, I have been working behind the scenes for the past several years to promote and protect the key role that local governments play in our state's economic recovery and in serving residents. Only a very small handful of our state legislators have ever served in local government so it takes a lot of work to educate our state leaders on the importance of local control. Municipalities must be able to remain transparent, responsive and tailored in how they interact with their businesses and residents. To that end, I have been working very hard to build strong, positive and productive relationships not only with our local Gilbert delegation but with other key legislative and state leaders to communicate this important message. While much work remains to be done, I am appreciative of the relationships we've been able to build thus far.

Why is the League important to cities and towns in Arizona?
The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is the unified voice of all 91 cities and towns. This is critical. As local officials, we don't always have the time or ability to participate on a key issue at the Legislature. The League researches and analyzes the impact of legislation and where it impacts all municipalities or key principles such as local control and shared revenue, the League takes the lead as our voice. As local government is the closest and most responsive level of government, the education and communication on the benefits of local control is imperative. Additionally, cities and towns play a pivotal role in the Arizona economy; the League provides us with an opportunity to work collaboratively to make Arizona a place where people want to not only live but also do business.

League of Arizona Cities and Towns
1820 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85007
Phone: 602-258-5786
Fax: 602-253-3874

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