I’m now two months into the job as a Maricopa County Supervisor and I can tell you that the business of running the county is every bit as challenging, interesting and rewarding as I thought it would be.
I have a lot to learn, but also, I believe, a lot to contribute. I’m thankful for the support of my colleagues on the board, grateful for the legacy of my predecessor, Denny Barney, and excited to connect with those of you in District 1 so I can better represent your needs.
There’s no shortage of work to be done, but there are three issues that stand out to me as the most urgent and important.
Elections: The Board of Supervisors is working with Recorder Fontes to improve how elections are run in Maricopa County. Turnout was high in 2018 and could break records again in 2020. We need a system that works for everyone.
This means investing in technology that meets the needs of a 21st century electorate. It means staffing in a way that enables votes to be counted in an accurate and timely manner. It also means reexamining the structure of our elections system. Which responsibilities fall to the board, and which fall to the recorder?
We’ll be thoughtful about it and work with state legislators to strike the proper balance. The goal is a best-in-class elections system worthy of a world-class region. You can learn more here.
Transportation and Infrastructure: I don’t have to tell you our region is changing. In the 2000 Census, Chandler had 177,000 residents and Maricopa County as a whole had 3 million. In 2004, voters passed Prop 400 to fund transportation projects that would fuel a new wave of growth.
Among them, the Loop 202 projects – the completed Red Mountain and Santan Freeways as well as the future South Mountain Freeway. These improved connections make the East Valley a more attractive destination for business.
I’ve been deeply involved in these projects as a member of Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and the State Transportation Board, and I’m proud of the impact they’ve had. By 2010, Chandler’s population was nearly 240,000 and Maricopa County had grown to almost four million as families relocated to an area with both space and freeway access.
Mesa, Gilbert, Tempe and Queen Creek all saw incredible growth as well, brought about in part by these investments in freeway expansions, surface street improvements, light rail and bus routes.
Now it’s time for a new transportation plan that will connect the next generation to greater opportunity and improved quality of life. Prop 400 expires in 2025. When voters passed it, self-driving cars were a thing of science fiction. Now the East Valley is the epicenter of the autonomous vehicle revolution.
That’s one of many factors we have to consider as we think about future of transportation in the nation’s fastest-growing county. A future “Prop 500” is a priority of mine – in some ways, it’s what my career in public service has been building to – and I plan to be a strong advocate for long-term, countywide solutions.
You can get involved in the discussion right now by taking MAG’s 10-minute online survey at azmag.gov/values.
Continuing economic development: Our transportation infrastructure is one reason our region is growing so quickly, but it’s not the only reason. In my work with East Valley Partnership and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, I’ve seen how Arizona champions can build relationships that bring the jobs of the future to Maricopa County.
Because of my work with state legislators and other leaders, I know the difference good policy can make in creating an environment that attracts both new industry and new families. As a member of the board, I will work with my colleagues to build and diversify our vibrant economy.
Other issues will come up, of course, and as they do, I want to hear from you. Please reach out and let me know what you need. You can email me anytime at email@example.com or call my office at 602-506-1776. Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 1.
- Jack Sellers is a Chandler resident and a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors whose district includes Ahwatukee and much of the East Valley.