City of Phoenix Mayoral Candidates on Libraries

On Tuesday, November 6th, City of Phoenix residents will vote in a Special Election to fill a vacancy for Mayor, for a term that expires January 2, 2020. 

In the spirit of informed voter-ship, we asked each candidate where they stood on issues affecting our libraries. Here are their responses for your review:

Your decision affects the immediate future of your library. Cast your vote on Tuesday, November 6th!

  Kate Gallego Moses Sanchez Nicholas Sarwark Daniel Valenzuela
Are you a member of the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library? Yes. No. I am a member of the Friends of the Phoenix Library. It's a great way to give back to a system that our family enjoys. I am not.
How have you supported Phoenix Public Library in the past?

On council, I have consistently advocated and voted for restoring library hours and expanding funding for its many programs that provide such valuable support to our residents—from College Depot for aspiring students, to our Workforce Connection Centers to get people residents advance in their careers, to the hive @ central and its discovery space for budding entrepreneurs. I also try hard to support library-related events—I believe I was the only mayoral candidate to show up and recognize library volunteers this year.


But perhaps what is most important is that I use libraries! I have many happy memories from Phoenix libraries such as using a Phoenix library book to pick my son’s name. We discovered his favorite book at the library—A Ball for Daisy. My mother is probably the biggest user of Phoenix libraries in my family—she goes through about 4 books a week

As a parent, my children and I often visit our local public library in Ahwatukee. It's an excellent place to learn and interact with the community. We participate in library programs for our four children and visit the library often for books and movies. Growing up in Phoenix in a family of six raised primarily by a single mother, we had limited means. As a result, it was the public schools I attended, the Boys and Girls Club, summer jobs through the Urban League, and city assets such as its parks, swimming pools, community centers, and yes, libraries that served as our safety net.

Fast forward some three decades later, I have had the opportunity as a member of the Phoenix City Council to pay back the debt I owe to our library system. To begin to replenish budget cuts made to the libraries before I assumed my seat on the Council. To ensure that repairs were made to the Burton Barr Library in the most timely fashion possible. Moreover, I have sought to channel and supported new educational and entrepreneurship programs that tap into the resources of our libraries and maximize its role as a community asset. I joined with former Mayor Greg Stanton to develop Read on Phoenix, a public/private partnership of community stakeholders dedicated to ensuring that every child will have the skills necessary to read at or above grade level by the end of third grade. Many of its programs are offered through our libraries. In creating CodePHX, I again looked to our libraries as a foundation for a program that makes free computer coding and robotics training available to every child in Phoenix between 4 and 17.
In 2010, the City cut library hours. In 2012, the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library advocated for restoration of evening hours for the 8 busiest libraries in our system. Last year, the City added more hours at 4 libraries; however, we believe it is time to get back to every library being open every day.  Will you support restoring library hours to the levels they were prior to 2010? Current Phoenix Public Library Hours are only two-thirds what they were before the Great Recession, and that’s even after the increases in funding included the 2018-2019 budget. Our 16 branches serve as essential community centers—where residents of all ages can read, relax, retool, and, most importantly, discover what’s out there and what’s possible. Now as a new mom, I feel these cuts even more—when I try to take my son by the library after work to exchange books and our branch is closed. Restoring library hours will be my priority as your next Mayor. I believe our libraries are a critical part of the services our City provides, allowing residents of all ages to learn and grow. As Mayor, I would work to build partnerships and find resources to increase library hours to allow more residents the opportunity to take advantage of our libraries. Libraries are focal point in our community and a great resource for people trying to improve their lives. Getting the library back to 7 days a week is a great start. Yes. The Great Recession caused across the broad cutbacks in city and state programs and services. When I assumed my seat on the Phoenix City Council in 2012, I embarked on efforts to replenish many vital programs that endured major cuts in the years earlier, which included the Phoenix Public Library budget. As one of the city’s most underserved communities, I focused much of my efforts on the Palo Verde Library located in the district I represented on the City Council. As Mayor, I will remain committed to fully restoring library hours and services to the levels prior to 2010.
The Library's operating budget still has not recovered from the 2010 budget cuts. If you are elected as Mayor, will you work to restore library funding for books, programs, and staffing? I support restoring library funds to pre-recession levels. Our public libraries are one of the best investments our next Mayor could make in our city and its residents. Library services touch tens of thousands of Phoenicians each week. Our programs help kids find the scholarships they need to attend college; entrepreneurs get the training and information they need to turn their ideas into licensed businesses; and retirees stay connected with their community through events that support life-long learning and the opportunity to help teach our youngest residents how to read. In just the first week of Burton Barr’s reopening this past June, residents checked out nearly 20,000 materials. It showed how much its services were missed and how much our residents yearn for more books and materials, and the community our libraries provide.

As the fastest-growing city in America, restoring funding to the same levels they a decade ago is the least we could do—residents still aren’t receiving the funding per person they once were. Our libraries have done so much with comparatively little, I can’t wait to see what our staff can do with our full support.
My priorities as Mayor will be public safety, infrastructure and quality of life. Our library system falls within our quality of life platform and I will advocate to find funds to invest in this resource. My focus as mayor is on core city services and I consider the library to be a core service. I would be a champion for finding ways to expand the services without raising city taxes on ordinary Phoenicians. Unequivocally yes. It is not possible to fully restore library hours and services to the levels prior to 2010 unless funding for staff, programs, and acquisition of books are fully funded as well.
In what other ways will you support the library if you are elected as Mayor? I will be Phoenix’s first mayor who is a mom of a young kid. I am planning a cable/YouTube video series promote all of the (mostly free) things that the city offers for parents, and the libraries will be central to that. I'd like to see our libraries become even more dynamic and serve a wider purpose; let's consider innovative programs like NYC recently introduced that allows low-income residents to rent ties and briefcases for job interviews. First thing would be to listen to the concerns of not just patrons, but also of the staff and administration on how the city can better assist the library in reaching more Phoenicians. In addition to the restoration of budget cuts, I will seek to expand library-based education and entrepreneurship programs I created by extending to all city libraries while further highlighting the value of Phoenix Libraries as a community resource and the need to continue to invest in its operations and staffing.
Do you have anything else you would like to add regarding Phoenix's public libraries? One promising opportunity I see is expanding TRIO at ASU to the Downtown Phoenix Campus. TRIO administers Talent Search, Upward Bound, Veterans Upward Bound—federally-funded programs that support students who are first-generation, low-income, and/or veterans. If Downtown, TRIO and College Depot could supplement one another. Our libraries play a critical role in encouraging Phoenicians to learn, grow and explore information that they may not otherwise have access to. We should be forward thinking when it comes to the role our libraries play in our city's future. As a child I believed that anything I could want to know could be found in books and the library was where I could find any book imaginable. As a store of human knowledge and a community hub, our libraries are invaluable. Thank you for your service to our city.

  

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