Home » Government » Council visits Washington to lobby support for long-term planning

Council visits Washington to lobby support for long-term planning

City Manager Paul Jepsen, Mayor Al Gameros, Councilmen: Mariano Gonzales, Fernando Shipley, Freddie Rios and Economic Director Linda Oddonetto in front of the Capital on a recent advocacy trek to Washington DC. Courtesy photo

In the weeks leading up to the final approval of its updated Strategic Action Plan (SAP), members of Globe City Council and administration sojourned to Washington DC to attend the National League of Cities gathering and to meet with elected representatives and agencies as they sought additional funding for several infrastructure projects.

The five-day trip—a first in the history of Globe—also allowed City leadership to put faces to names that might otherwise remain anonymous in the minds of state and federal officials.

“One of the many benefits of our trip was meeting with other elected officials and their staff from all over the United States,” says Globe Mayor Al Gameros. “We came away with an understanding of what they do in similar situations we’re finding ourselves in.”

Mayor Al Gameros speaks with Eli Crane, the U.S. Representative for Arizona’s Second Congressional District. Courtesy Photo

Gameros says in addition to “face time” with the people making funding decisions, was the educational aspect of the sessions the delegation attended that explained the very complex system of funding available for local projects and details on how to apply for and receive grants and loans through federal appropriations.

In addition to Gameros, Councilmembers Mariano Gonzalez, Fernando Shipley, Jesse Leetham and Freddy Rios attended, along with City Manager Paul Jepson and Economic & Community Development Director Linda Oddonetto.

Much of the work done in DC was associated with the City’s updated SAP, a three-year action plan—or roadmap—for City Council that has been in the works for months and was adopted at the May 9 Council meeting in Globe.

For the past several years, Council has been guided by the most recent SAP, approved in 2019 covering a three-year period through 2022. Despite a multi-year pause caused by the COVID pandemic and a series of wildfires and floods, that set of “goals and objectives” is well on its way to implementation.

“We will continue building on the progress and momentum of the past five years,” Gameros says of the new plan. “Many of the projects that we set in place a year or two ago are now coming to fruition. We are committed to the priorities of the SAP, and remain focused on completing the more long-term projects that will take more time to fund and implement.”

Thanks to lobbying efforts and staff working to identify and pursue grant money, the City has acquired $2.7 million for upgrades to the water delivery system as well as $750,000 for the Michaelson Building business incubator and workforce development project. That funding comes through Congressional Direct Spending via USDA Rural Area Development funds.

The City was also able to get state funding to the tune of $2.8 million for the $5 million Connie’s Bridge project that is expected to be completed by October, and $100,000 from the Army Corp of Engineers to begin important work on the McCormick Tunnel Project to repair a vital piece of downtown flood mitigation.

The City has also been able to acquire more than $2 million for the Cottonwood Bridge project through the Arizona Department of Transportation.

While the updated SAP continues to support existing projects, it also acts as a bridge to the future and offers a vision for the community beyond basic infrastructure needs.

“We’re starting to see the vertical builds of some of the things that we’ve been working on for the past few years,” says Councilman Freddy Rios. “We’re actually seeing the fruits of all that work, with the swimming pool and the Hill Street School housing project. That’s what keeps us moving forward and our Strategic Action Plan keeps us on track.”

In addition to projects such as a new fire station on Ash Street, rebuilding underground infrastructure and expanded housing opportunities through the Northeast Corridor Project, Council is also focused on improving the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

The updated SAP includes strategies to improve internal and external communications and marketing. Under the plan, the City will continue to seek funding for a multitude of projects that build upon the success of the past few years.

While a focus on economic development will play a key role in Globe’s future, Council intends to continue creating a welcoming atmosphere and to make historic downtown Globe a destination location to the benefit of residents and visitors alike.

Improved downtown lighting and access to Wi-Fi as well as additional parking on an increasingly busy Broad Street, are crucial to the future. The City is also planning to create new recreational opportunities and further improve the visitor experience by adding wayfinding signage, historical plaques, EV charging stations, exercise equipment, and downtown water stations, as well as more biking and jogging trails and other outdoor improvements.

There are also plans to re-establish a Parks and Recreation Department to manage city parks after that department was eliminated more than a decade ago.

“Previous Councils had to do what they had to do, but now, 11 years later, we’re working to create a Parks Department,” says Councilman Mariano Gonzalez. “I have high hopes that the City of Globe our Council and staff is working to build will be a strong and vibrant community for generations to come.”

Gonzalez was appointed in 2019 after the untimely passing of Mike Humphrey and was elected to his council seat last year. He spent nearly 30 years in emergency management at the state level and was a natural fit for the public safety subcommittee created by Council to study and update the SAP.

Along with District 3 Councilman Jesse Leetham, Gonzalez represents the wide-ranging makeup of the current Council, both in age and experience.

Globe native Leetham is not yet 30, but brings experience, youth and energy to Council. He has survived cancer, and spent years in the gaming industry and as a casino manager. Along with his husband Oscar, he is raising a 4-year-old daughter.

“I’m a firm believer that if you want something done, you can’t sit on the sidelines and wait for it to be done,” Leetham says. “Council has maintained and implemented a strong SAP, one the community can get behind and can see come to life.”

Leetham was appointed to both the finance and quality of life subcommittees and intends to use the tools he acquired in DC to help make life better for everyone in the Globe community.

He credits City staff members for the progress made on Council priorities in recent years.

“We have an amazing staff that makes it their mission to ensure that the SAP isn’t just another thing sitting on a shelf,” he adds. We as a council believe that building and bringing a plan like this to life can only happen through discussion and collaboration with staff, the community, and our many partners.”

The trip to Washington, which took place from April 25 to 29, consisted of four days of meetings and educational seminars hosted by the National League of Cities.

The meetings with representatives were organized through the City’s contracted lobbyist. They included introductions and personal meetings with Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, as well as Congressmen Eli Crane, Greg Stanton and Rubén Gallego.

Councilman Fernando Shipley, Representative Rubén Gallego, Mayor Al Gameros and Councilman Freddie Rios in Washington DC. Courtesy Photo

Presentations to the Army Corps of Engineers and the USDA garnered pledges of $16 million for seven city projects.

“It was a great learning experience for all of us who made the first-time trip to DC,” Councilman Rios says. “There’s major funding available for communities in the infrastructure bill and no shortage of infrastructure needs in Globe. Our team did an amazing  job writing the complex proposals and then putting information briefs together to present to the legislators and agencies we went to see so they had an advanced knowledge of our agenda.”

Councilmembers report that one thing they learned is that what is happening in rural communities is not unique to Arizona, and small towns throughout the country are facing similar economic and infrastructure challenges.

“You can talk about Republican or Democrat all you want, but every one of them said the same thing,” Gonzalez says. “Things are tough all over, but there are many federal funding opportunities now available. Now it’s up to us to compete for those dollars and bring them back to our City.”

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