Mayor Spotlight: Mayor Michael LeVault, Town of Youngtown

Name, title & city/town:
Mayor Michael LeVault, town of Youngtown
Year elected to office: 2006
Years served as mayor: 8
Hometown: Chicago Heights, IL

Town of Youngtown
Incorporated: 1960
Population: 6,156
Elevation: 1,150 ft.
County: Maricopa
Area within Limits: 1.12 sq. mi.

Why did you decide to serve in local government?
I have always paid attention to what government is up to. In the past, I had been involved in several legislative and state-wide campaigns as an organizer but never as a candidate. When I moved to Youngtown, I began attending town council meetings paying close attention to the town's deteriorating fiscal condition.

As Youngtown's fiscal health continued to worsen and the mayor and council continued to adopt counter-productive policies, it became clear that strong, decisive action was required.

Consequently, I helped organize and run a recall campaign that ultimately resulted in the recall of the mayor, vice mayor and a third councilmember. Soon after the recall, a fourth councilmember resigned, thus dramatically changing the composition of the town council.

What are the biggest challenges facing your city today?
Youngtown is a small, essentially landlocked community in the northwest Valley. In the seven or so years of my tenure as mayor, the council has worked hard to turn around the town's fiscal condition. Youngtown is now debt free and has a rainy day fund of nearly a year's worth of operational expenditures in the bank. In fact, this town council, along with staff, has managed to build a structural surplus into the town's budget projections for the next five years.

Youngtown's biggest challenge now is continuing to build and preserve long term sustainability while simultaneously promoting an ever increasing quality of life for residents. Youngtown is a small but strategically located community which understands the reality that the town's future is inextricably intertwined with that of the Valley and, in particular, the West Valley: as goes the future of the Valley and West Valley, so goes the future of Youngtown.

What opportunities do you see for your community?
Youngtown is strategically located so its residents can avail themselves of all the world-class amenities surrounding it: world class sporting events, entertainment, shopping, restaurants, educational facilities, etc. It is a relatively safe and secure community in which to raise a family or live in retirement.

The town council just voted to bring a new General Plan to the voters this November. That new general plan continues to build on the pursuit of long term sustainability by providing a framework for zoning and land use changes which allow the town to reinvent and gentrify its commercial districts in ways which will help assure vitality and sustainability.

What are you most proud of during your time in office?
The town council and I have managed to work with staff to put the town on a strong fiscal foundation while simultaneously implementing the most profound infrastructure improvements in the town's 60 year history-all without taking on debt or raising residents' taxes.

Why is the League important to cities and towns in Arizona?
Towns and cities in Arizona provide the vast majority of 'bread and butter' services which touch peoples' lives daily: police and fire protection, roads and streets, parks, libraries, etc.

The League provides the various municipalities with a platform for cooperation and collaboration in the pursuit of common interests as they interact with the legislature, governor and other stakeholders. The League shares the vision that "…the best, most responsive level of government is the one closest to the people and is also the most likely level of government where the people will involve themselves". Arizona municipalities depend on the League to provide the tools and services necessary to pursue state policies which will best assure sustainability and the highest quality of life for residents.

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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