Advocate for neighborhoods

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By Daniel Valenzuela

We live in a great and diverse city. Phoenix has the solid foundation that a world-class city needs. 

But our days of seemingly endless streams of residential development and big-ticket, taxpayer-supported projects are now behind us. Just as in our own households, the challenging economic times we live in have impacted our city and our city government. And the emerging economy coming out of this recession is bound to change us – forever. 

We’re looking inward. We value our homes even more as we watch far too many neighbors lose theirs. We value our jobs as too many of our neighbors face unemployment. And more than ever, we cherish our families and our heritage as we contemplate the new challenges of the future our children and we will face. 

City government needs to look inward as well. 

The immediate future of Phoenix will be determined not by the bold initiatives of the past that made us a world-class city, but in fulfilling our basic needs and responsibilities to the people. 

And those responsibilities, those basic needs begin in our neighborhoods. 

For Phoenix to remain the vibrant and strong city we want, we must have strong neighborhoods. We can have all the sports arenas we want, all the parks that we want. But they won’t make for strong neighborhoods. 

We must have strong neighborhoods. 

And why not? After all, our neighborhoods are where we live. 

It is where we are raising our children and where they go to school and play. It is where we work, or want others to work in successful businesses that meet our needs, which adds to our tax base. It’s our refuge. It is where we should feel the safest. 

Our neighborhoods are our home. For many of us, our home is where we will make the largest single investment in our lifetime. 

As a husband, parent, firefighter and community advocate, neighborhoods have been the focus of my professional career as well as my service to the community.

And that’s why I am a candidate for our Phoenix City Council in District 5. 

For our neighborhoods. 

So, what do I mean—for our neighborhoods?  

First and foremost, it means a commitment to strong neighborhoods. 

For example, jobs. Our economic development efforts in recent times have focused largely and successfully on those big, bold opportunities in solar, the biosciences and other high-wage sectors. But our commitment to economic development must also include aiding our existing small businesses. As our city councilman, I will focus my efforts on advocating for policies and programs that will preserve existing jobs and encourage new ones in our small business sector, where most new jobs are created and what makes for stronger neighborhoods. 

Strong neighborhoods also depend on good, safe schools. I reject those who say schools aren’t a city responsibility. Our schools shouldn’t be viewed as someone else’s responsibility – teachers, parents, the school board. Because whether we have children in our schools or not – Sonya and I happen to have two children in school – we all have a stake in strong schools. Strong schools provide the trained workforce we need to attract companies with good-paying jobs. That makes for strong neighborhoods. City government needs to be as forceful in advocating for strong schools down at the Capitol. 

When I say our neighborhoods, I mean safe neighborhoods. 

I’m a career firefighter, but I’m not talking just about fire and police protection. I’ll use my public safety experience to keep our first-response resources at the level of staffing and training we, the community, deserve. 

But other factors make for safe neighborhoods, factors that are sure signs that a neighborhood is up for grabs if we fail to perform in these areas. I’m talking about an aggressive crackdown on graffiti and enforcement of building codes, before one home or building becomes a foothold for the spread of blight and crime. 

I mean our neighborhoods with a high quality of life.

The quality of life we all enjoy should not be taken for granted. 

With our decreased city resources, we must prioritize maintenance of existing infrastructure, parks and libraries instead of building new ones. 

Future development must pay for itself instead of burdening taxpayers. This is the philosophy I have taken in my service as a member of the Maryvale Village Planning Committee, and one that I will continue to adhere to as our city councilmember. 

I’m not a career politician. I’m not seeking to go to City Hall because I think I have all the answers. Rather, it’s because I am prepared to ask the right questions. Is it good for people and families? Is it good for neighborhoods? Will it make them stronger?  I believe strong neighborhoods will strengthen our city.

I respectfully ask for your support. 

Thanks and God bless.

Daniel Valenzuela is a Special Operations firefighter, community relations division manager and public information officer for the Glendale Fire Department. He is a member of the 9/11 Memorial Commission, a founding member of Glendale’s Hope (Glendale Firefighter Charities), and president of the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters (NAHF). Valenzuela is also a board member of the Labor’s Community Service Agency, a Phoenix social service organization.

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