Who would you vote for today?

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If you were to vote today, who is your choice?

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Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I must confess I didn’t know Ray Strahl. I had run into him at various city or chamber events but other than greeting one another we had never connected. Since he is running for the Barrel district city council seat I asked for time to conduct an in-depth interview. Mr. Strahl graciously agreed and what started as an hour meeting quickly became a several hour meeting.

I wanted to do more than just ask about his positions on the issues but rather try to get a feel for the person. Ray was born and grew up in Elgin, Illinois, a small town of about 50,000 people. He affectionately calls it “Mayberry RFD.” Like many of us who are seniors the lifestyle was quite different then. He and the kids in the area would disappear in the morning to play together and return home just in time for dinner. Often the neighborhood kids would gather at his house.

His Dad was a middle class, hardworking man who, in essence, became a master engraver for the Elgin Watch Factory for 21 years. His Mom was a head bookkeeper for a local firm. After Ray was born she became a stay-at-home Mom but she opened her own, what we would call today, day care business. Ray was an only child.

I asked Ray to share something he has always remembered from his childhood days. He recalled a time when he had been out playing with the neighborhood kids. He knew he had to be home at a specified time to go out to an event with his parents. In typical childhood fashion, the time got away from him and he arrived home late. His Dad was waiting for him, told him to put his bike away and get cleaned up so that they could leave for the event. His Dad’s parting words were, “You’ll get your spanking later. Remind me when we get home.” During the family outing, Ray fretted and worried, debating whether to follow his Dad’s advice to remind him that he owed Ray a spanking. When they got home Ray did as his Dad had asked and reminded him of the forthcoming spanking. Ray’s Dad knelt down before him and said, “Son, I am not going to spank you. I think you’ve suffered enough punishment waiting for it to happen.” When Ray speaks about his Dad, it is evident that he loved, respected and admired him greatly.

Ray was the typical high schooler saying he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed with average grades and graduating in the upper third of his high school graduating class of 510 students. He participated in many school sports: tennis, basketball, wrestling as well as marching band and school orchestra. Last August Ray attended the 50th anniversary of his high school graduation. He MC-ed the event and was its keynote speaker.

After graduation Ray enlisted in the Army following in the footsteps of stepbrother and cousin. He became a Huey pilot flying UH1-Bs and UH1-Ds in Vietnam. He did his one tour of duty as part of a Medevac team in the 1st Cavalry Division and decided that a military career was not his path.

Ray still wasn’t sure of his career path so he did something unusual. He went to a head hunting firm for assistance in determining his skill sets. Called in after a battery of tests, Ray was told that his skill set would be best as…a televangelist or a banker. Ray opted for the latter. He went on to become a highly successful banker, realtor and an insurance and financial advisor for over 45 years.

Ray came to Glendale as many of us do. His parents lived at 43rd Avenue and Morten Avenue. Over the years Ray’s Father would ask, “Son when are you moving out here?” One day when the time was right for Ray, he responded, “Hang on Dad. Let me get my calendar.  I will be there on October 8th (1993).”  When Ray arrived, his Dad was sitting in the driveway waiting for him and said, “Son, you’re late.” Ray had five good years with his Dad until he passed in 1998.

Ray met his wife, Diana, when she joined the firm for which Ray worked. Early on in their relationship Diana remarked to Ray, “You look like my second husband.” Ray, puzzled replied, “But I thought you had only been married once before.” To which Diana replied, “That’s true.” Diana and her “second husband” have been married for 20 years.

Ray and his wife have woven themselves into our community. Ray worked on the campaigns of Ray Malnar, Randy Miller and Jerry Weiers. He and his wife are long time members of the Church of Christ the Redeemer. Ray has graduated from Glendale University…twice… because he felt he learned so much. He’s also graduated from the Citizens Police Academy. He is on the Board of Directors of the Western Maricopa County Association of Realtors (WEMAR) ; the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) and Lutheran Ministries, Grand Canyon District. Ray also has the distinction of being only the 11th person in the state to have graduated from the National Insurance Advisors’ Leadership and Life Institute.

Ray’s passion for serving as the Barrel district councilmember comes through when he talks not only about his district but about Glendale and its people. His pride in Glendale is evident. He recognizes that most people want to live in a safe and healthy neighborhood where there is an opportunity for families to recreate and to play together. The over 2,000 homes he has already visited share a desire for having a community that works to provide jobs within it; that has top notch police and fire responders; that offers outstanding recreational opportunities; that has city infrastructure and streets in good repair and that strives continually to improve everyone’s quality of life. He knows you want ethical and responsive councilmembers who will work to insure that the city is fiscally sound. He pledges to insure that your goals are his goals.

He is a problem solver. He believes it is not enough to identify a problem but to bring the beginning of an ultimate solution to the table. He recognizes that any solution must be a cooperative effort involving citizens, stakeholders and city staff working together. He realizes that the final outcome is crafted when all elements of our community have a voice.

His skills as a Toast Master give him the ability to inspire others and to lead. He believes he can create greater communication between district residents and the city by holding small, neighborhood gatherings often. He believes this is the first step toward breaking down the present culture of apathy. To do that he will take his skills as a listener to really hear what citizens are saying in order to share those concerns effectively.

Ray says that as a banker, mortgage lender, realtor and financial advisor he has helped thousands of people to achieve the American Dream of home ownership. He believes he can take those same skills of listening, leadership and problem solving to assist citizens regarding city issues both large and small.

Ray Strahl came across as an ordinary man with some extraordinary skills. I had heard that he could be standoffish and brusque but he was neither. He is a warm and genuine. He is a vet and I thank him for his service to our country. While being a successful businessman he has never forgotten his faith, family or his love for Glendale. He has contributed to Glendale in many ways and now he wishes to serve us again in a greater capacity. Some people are born to service whether military, social, economic or political. Ray is one of those.  I endorse Ray Strahl and hope if you are a Barrel district voter you will consider giving him your vote on your Early Ballot or at the polls on August 28th. Thank you.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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