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.

For those of you who vote by mail you have probably received your Glendale ballot. In fact you may have received two ballots thanks to Adrian Fontes, the current Mauicopa County Recorder. Once again, the County Recorder messed up. Instead of putting the school district issues and Glendale issues on one ballot, they printed two separate ballots for about 4,000 of Glendale’s voters. I am one of those. When you receive them vote on both ballots and mail back both ballots in their correct envelopes.

This blog is devoted to the question of city council pay raises. Let me start at the beginning. The State of Arizona delivered another mandate to cities requiring all Primary Elections to be moved from the third Tuesday of the month to the first Tuesday of the month. It required all charter cities (Glendale is one) to be in compliance prior to the first Tuesday of August, 2020.

City Council made the decision to hold a Special Election to bring the city into conformance as soon as possible. The first date a city election could be held was November 5th of this year. Council decided that as long as a Special Election was to be held for one issue, it might as well add the question of city council raises, if that was the citizen Council Compensation Committee’s recommendation.

The citizen Council Compensation Committee made their recommendation to raise council salaries and place it on the ballot. Council agreed and added the question to that of the question of changing the Primary Election date to come into conformance with the state mandate.

Not all Metropolitan Phoenix cities allow voters to approve council salary increases. In Surprise, for instance, their Council approves pay increases by resolution. Recently they did just that and increased their salaries by resolution. Their salaries will be reviewed and adjusted in every city election year—in other words, every other year.

I believe I have earned a raise and I make no apology for stating such. In 1992, my first year as a councilmember, Glendale had a population of about 158,000, about 1200 employees and a total budget of about $500 million dollars. In 2019, Glendale has a population of about 250,000, about 2000 employees and a total budget of about $750 million dollars.

The first council raise I received was in 2006 after 10 years of service for me (I had a 4 year hiatus). It was in actuality, 14 years before councilmember salaries were raised from $12,000 to $34,000 a year upon recommendation of a citizen Council Compensation Committee and subsequent voter approval. It was an increase of $22,000 over 14 years or $1571 per year.

If the voters approve the current recommended salary increase it will have been another 10 years of service for me (I had a second 4 year hiatus). It will have actually been another 14 years if councilmember salaries are raised from $34,000 to $52,000. It would be an increase of $18,000 over 14 years or $1285 per year.

I said I earn it and I will try to convey why. I don’t think that unless you’ve been a local elected official that one can appreciate the requirements of the job. I think that everyone assumes that we vote at a council meeting every other Tuesday and that’s all there is to it. Not so. Hours and days are highly irregular and can include every day of the week (including Sunday) from an early morning breakfast event at 7 or 7:30 am to a regional dinner or banquet that ends at 10 or 11 pm. Because of the irregular hours and days, there are days that are 12 hour days and other days (not as often) that can be 4 or 5 hour work days.

Add other activities, meetings and events.  I chair the Council Business Committee and the Council Government Services Committee. I also serve on the Council Code Review Committee and the Arizona League of Cities Budget and Finance Committee. Add preparation time and travel time for those meetings.

Speaking of travel time, I still drive a 2004 model car. I am certainly not living high on the hog. After taxes, I take home about $25,000. The major annual mileage (80%) on the car is strictly for city business. I pay for all gas and maintenance. The city does not reimburse me and if it did, I would not put in for it. My cell phone is my personal cell and I pay the monthly bill. Again the majority of use (90%) is city related for I still have a landline at home that is used for friends and family. The city does not reimburse me and if it did, I would not put in for it. Or how about the use of my personal computer and tablet and related costs for an internet connection and for paper and toner?  I often print material so that I have something on which to make notes as I study the issue. I pay personally for all of those items.

Speaking of paying for work related items, I consider some civic memberships to be essential as an elected official but I pay for those memberships personally. One, for example, is the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. When I have a working lunch that does not include city topics exclusively, I pay for the attendees (sometimes accepted, sometimes not) or at least my own tab from my personal funds. If it is strictly city related, such as meeting high school principals for breakfast, I will use my city credit card. It’s a fine, ethical line and I tend to err on the side of caution. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some expenses but you get the idea.

Then there are meetings, seemingly endless meetings…with staff on issues from streets and traffic light issues to Police and Fire Promotion Ceremonies. There are also monthly one-on-one meetings with our City Attorney, City Manager and Council Office Manager on current or upcoming issues. There are texts, emails and one-on-one meetings with my Council Assistant. Then there are one-on-one constituent or HOA meetings that can last from an hour to several hours.

Now add a sprinkling of City Events from Caesar Chavez or Martin Luther King Day to Glendale Glitters to Tractor Days at Sahuaro Ranch. Everyone assumes that we get lots of freebie events such as concerts at the city owned Gila River Arena.  I have never gone to a concert that I have not personally paid for. The city does have a suite at the arena and when asked by the City’s Economic Development department to attend I go because it is my job. I barely pay attention to the event because we are asked to attend to make connections with economic development prospects in attendance. The city has no suite in the football stadium and I have never attended a Super Bowl game hosted by Glendale. There was one time that I was offered the opportunity to buy 2 Super Bowl tickets at the face value of $600 each. I passed. I couldn’t afford it. The 2 times I attended a Super Bowl it was out-of-town when the city was preparing to host it’s first ever Super Bowl and those were big time learning curve trips.  If I attend anything at the stadium I have paid, just like you, to be there. The city does have a suite at Camelback Ranch and I have only been in it as part of my job, for events such as Opening Day or for the closing ceremonies of a Youth Baseball League.

I’m not done yet. A major part of my job as a councilmember is solving constituent problems. The majority of the time I am successful but not always. In some instances the city has no law or code to address an issue. I am readily accessible by cell phone, 602-320-3422, and have received calls at 10 pm at night regarding football game day parking in a neighborhood to a 6 am call advising me that the Grand Canal Park’s sprinklers were flooding an area. Sometimes I can’t answer because I am at an event or in a meeting but I do try to return them at my earliest opportunity.  I attend neighborhood meetings, HOA meetings and one-on-one meetings with constituents. Each typically lasts from one to several evening hours. I host district-wide meetings twice a year and mail out a district-wide newsletter twice a year as well. I offer an online E News letter once a week. I use social media and have a Facebook page devoted to city news and events. I can’t write this blog as frequently as I would like to. Here it is, nearly 11 o’clock this evening and I may finish writing and editing by 1 am. It’s quiet now and I can think about this issue yet I know I will pay for it tomorrow as my first city commitment is at 9:30 am.

Here is another task to add to this ever growing list and that is research and preparation for council workshops and voting meetings. Forget having a free weekend. Typically we receive the council workshop agenda on a Wednesday before the Tuesday meeting and the council voting meeting agenda on the Friday before the Tuesday meeting. Since there isn’t much free time during the week, I like most of the other councilmembers, end up using either our Saturday or Sunday afternoons doing our “homework.” It often entails a flurry of emails to staff members to get further information or to ask questions on an agenda topic. It easily consumes all afternoon. Follow up often takes additional time on Monday mornings.

Once again, I know there are probably other activities that I have forgotten to include as I write this. I think you get the idea. It is a job that requires flexibility; intelligence; curiosity; and patience.

In some instances it can be a thankless job for never, ever, is everyone pleased with a decision made or a vote cast. I rarely receive a ‘thank you’ nor do I expect it. I will often hear from some citizens when they think my decision or vote was not what they wanted or expected. Despite all of that I love my job. Why? Because of the variety of the job. No two days are ever alike. There is always something new to learn.

 I think I am good at my job. I’m accessible and committed. I love Glendale and I love my district, the Yucca district. My district is hot. It’s where the majority of new economic development and new residential development is occurring. It keeps me busy meeting with potential economic developers.

In 1992, when I first became the Yucca district councilmember it was a part time job. Today, it is a full time job. City issues are far more complex. The city’s population increase means there are more constituents in each district and hence more constituent demands on a councilmember’s time. The use of the internet and social media has added a whole new dimension to the job. Have I earned a raise? I believe so and I hope after reading this you believe so too. No matter how you vote on the two Glendale issues please remember to vote and to exercise a freedom not found in many countries in our world. I already voted. Did you?


























© Joyce Clark, 2019         


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