Mayor Spotlight

Name, title & city/town:
Mayor Terrence O. "Terry" Wheeler
Year elected to office: 1998 - served as councilmember from 1998-2004 and 2008-2011; elected mayor in 2011
Years served as mayor: 2.5 years
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

City of Globe
Incorporated: 1907
Population: 7,532
Elevation: 3,540 ft.
County: Gila
Area within Limits: 20 sq. mi.

Why did you decide to serve in local government?
I have always been interested in my community, even as a kid growing up in Tucson. After I left college, I went to work on American Indian reservations, where much of my work necessitated becoming involved with the community. As I moved around in my career, much of my work, particularly with the University of Arizona Extension and many of my international jobs, required working with people in family groups and in the larger community, as well. These opportunities were located in various places such as Africa, Jordan and Mexico, as well as small towns and tribal communities scattered over parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and the Dakotas. The meetings were mostly centered around land use and family farms, but also offered educational opportunities.

I have also been involved in the community in one way or another since I have been here in Globe, with the schools, 4-H, Parish Council, and Cattle Growers, to name a few.

Why did I decide to serve in city government? In about 1995, my friend, then city manager of Globe, asked me to sign a petition to put part of my ranch in the city limits and I would be grandfathered in for ranching. Though I was opposed, I did eventually become part of city limits. I told the mayor at the time that I would run for city council and he said, "Go ahead." I did. I won in 1998.

I had an axe to grind, but after I got in, I found out that I had a real job to do. At the time, we had many problems as a city and were in debt. To cut costs, positions within the public works department were cut and city staff was put on furloughs. In order to make up for lost revenue, Red Flex Cameras were set up in the city, much to the dismay of Globe citizens. You can see why I felt compelled to take a run for mayor in 2011.

The first thing I did was get rid of the Red Flex cameras and bring in a strong management team for the city. I was then able to bring the staff together and create a sense of self-worth and stability.

What are the biggest challenges facing your city today?
Challenges facing our town are many, but they also provide an opportunity to work as a team, tighten our belts, get creative, work hard and make better things happen for all of us. As is the case with most communities, large and small, the downturned economy continues to be one of our greatest challenges. Limited new water sources and scarcity of private land are major concerns with respect to city growth. Our infrastructure is aging and in need of major renovation. Available housing is in short supply and much of it is in need of repair.

Generally speaking, our city's attitude is one of gratitude for the many things we do have: our natural resources, the great people of this community, our rich pioneering history and our citizens that still possess that pioneering spirit. What is really good is that most of our citizens still like to be involved in some way to make our community better. We tend to care for our neighbor and when someone is in trouble or hurt, the town comes to their aid. We live in a great place and we know it.

What opportunities do you see for your community?
Economic development can be expressed in many ways. For our Globe region, mining and livestock ranching were two of the prime sources of wealth creation as our communities evolved, and they still are to a somewhat lesser extent today. Globe contains a wealth of history demonstrated by its historic district. Globe is a source of entertainment and knowledge for those interested in arts, minerals, gemology, archeology, museums, antiques, outdoor recreation, hiking, fishing, hunting and many other things. Beyond a vivid history, the climate and scenery are excellent.

Citizen groups and individuals alike have stepped up to the plate to clean, spruce up and repair to make our old town more attractive as a destination point for travelers searching for an enjoyable experience. Because of this, our visitors are increasing in numbers, days of visitation and return visits. This has not gone unnoticed by businesses looking for new areas of expansion, as was demonstrated by several new businesses and a hotel that have recently located here.

Globe is located near the small town of Miami and the area of San Carlos, as well as some additional unincorporated areas in Gila County. My goal as mayor of Globe is to work with our neighboring communities and the county areas to pursue economic development projects on a regional basis. By doing this we will all prosper regionally. We know that what helps our neighbor will help us as well. I see more opportunities for high-paying jobs in the mining sector, which will help us regionally and will help support our local businesses. The increase in our sales tax revenue from the additional mine payroll will help us finance the necessary upgrade of our ancient infrastructure. This will also result in a ripple effect to increase job opportunities in all sectors of our local (regional) economy.

I think the opportunities for Globe and our neighbors are great and only limited by our ability to envision, get creative and unselfishly work together to achieve our stated goals in a collaborative manner.

What are you most proud of during your time in office?
I have not been a mayor long, so many of my goals are yet to come to fruition. However I believe that being able to make changes in our administration, work with and regain control of a hostile council and improve morale in our work force has helped to set course of positive reinforcement for our city staff and residents, as well.

When I had the traffic cameras removed, our citizens and visitors alike were overjoyed. I have people, many of whom I do not know, come up to me on a weekly basis and say: "You're doing a great job as mayor; keep it up."

If I have accomplished anything, I believe it would be putting a good team together that doesn't need me to keep things going in the right direction. One of my goals as mayor was to put management of the city of Globe in the best hands possible when I am out of the picture. I do not plan to seek another term, therefore I intend to leave a dependable team in place. The council and I were able to finally begin to come together when I brought in a temporary manager and our new attorney, Bill Sims. We hired Brent Billingsley as our new permanent city manager and recently hired a new police chief. I believe these moves will help to stabilize things. We are all still on a learning curve, but for the most part we have revitalized our work force and increased morale by leaps and bounds; not only for employees, but for our citizens as well. Our new manager has done a great job in a short time upgrading our infrastructure, especially in regard to public works, water and wastewater.

I feel that I have been at least partly responsible for creating an atmosphere we can effectively work together in our town with our neighbors. I want to spend more time to work with our neighboring communities this coming year, concentrating on economic opportunities.

Why is the League important to cities and towns in Arizona?
I personally have a very high regard for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. I believe it is essential to have an association that represents the health and welfare of all of our communities, large and small, to be fairly represented in the large arena. The League keeps us up to date on a daily basis of all the political "stuff" that is being rained down on us from high, which is critically important, especially when it can be harmful to our citizens. Although I have been appreciative of the League for years, I am much more now that I am mayor and have been able to participate with the League in several ways. I have just been elected as chairman of the Regional Council for Central Arizona Governments (CAG), which creates even more of an appreciation for those who help us stay the course to sound city management.

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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