Mayor Spotlight:

Name, title & city/town:
Tom J. Rankin, Mayor of the Town of Florence
Year elected to office: 2004 and 2012
Years served as Mayor: Four years as mayor and started my second term in 2012
Hometown: Town of Florence, AZ

Town of Florence
Incorporated: 1900
Population: 25,536 (2010 census)
Elevation: 1500 ft.
County: Pinal
Area within Limits: 52 sq. mi.

Why did you decide to serve in local government?
After working for the town for 15 years as the police chief, I wanted to help make positive changes. I am a lifetime resident of Florence and I want to make Florence a place that my children and grandchild will have the opportunity to work and live in the town they were raised.

What are the biggest challenges facing your town today?
The biggest challenge facing Florence is the development of the Curis Copper Mine and the environmental impacts to our community this mine would cause. A difficult part of this issue is dealing with the State Land Department, because the state is not recognizing the will of the people on this issue. It is the town's belief that there is a high risk of water contamination due to the in-situ mining process and the chemicals involved in this process. We do not believe that Curis can protect our water. The state land parcel rests in the middle of our municipal boundaries and the general plan and existing zoning for the area does not allow for this type of land use. The issue now is whether the town has any say in how the state land parcel is used. We are researching the rights of the municipality when a state land parcel, within the municipalities' jurisdiction, is being used for a purpose that is not supported by the Town Council or the residents of Florence. It is the town's belief that if the copper ore body was in the middle of a large urban city, this issue would not be happening. It is because Florence is a small rural community that the state is not hearing the wishes of the Florence people.

What opportunities do you see for your community?
The planning of the North South Corridor by ADOT and the construction of an interstate or highway that would connect Interstate 10 to Interstate 60 would provide opportunities for economic development for our community. For years, the town has been known strictly as a prison town when really we are a town of government services. Florence has correctional facilities that are owned and operated by the private sector, as well as county, state, and federal governments. Florence has numerous government offices due to the fact that we are the county seat of Pinal County. With our aggressive annexation policy, we believe that we should have an influence in the planned Superstition Vistas project, since we are a neighboring community. In addition, with the development of Canyon Moon Ranch, home of the Country Thunder music festival, there is a good possibility that Florence will become an entertainment venue.

What are you most proud of during your time in office?
I am most proud of the residential and commercial development that has occurred in Florence in recent years. Florence is the proud home to Pulte's Anthem at Merrill Ranch master planned community. I am proud that the town has not laid anyone off during the economic downturn. This is due to our manager and council budgeting accordingly. I am also proud of the way the town of Florence employees respond to the needs of citizens.

Why is the League important to cities and towns in Arizona?
The League is important to cities and towns in Arizona because they represent the interests of municipal government with a strong, unified voice to the elected officials at the state level. In addition, they provide information, training and technical assistance to local officials on municipal issues in order to create a greater public awareness and understanding of municipal responsibilities, governance and administration. I am pleased with how the League works with our managers, clerks, finance directors and intergovs to keep us informed and educated on state and local issues.

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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