Mayor Kate Gallego will shortly begin her first complete four-year term as mayor of Phoenix. As election results came in the night of Nov. 3, the Jewish mayor spoke to Jewish News about her agenda for her coming term and her gratitude for the Greater Phoenix Jewish community.
What are your biggest priorities in your new term?
To the extent there was a major issue in my race, it was my leadership on COVID-19, and I’m honored that the voters gave me the support that they did. So I’m going to keep taking public health seriously.
My job now is to work with the people of Phoenix and my City Council colleagues to help the city of Phoenix rise from 2020.
How do we strengthen our economy and make sure that everyone has a chance at a good job and a fair chance to get ahead in this community? We’re going to continue to invest in infrastructure as America’s fastest-growing city. I really want to work to build a city that works for everyone.
What can you do as mayor regarding COVID-19 that you haven’t already been doing?
I’ve been proud to work with my fellow Arizona mayors to send a strong message about public safety. Even Gov. Doug Ducey has said that he has taken our input seriously, and so we’re going to keep talking about what we need to do to fight COVID-19.
I’m also going to keep talking about flu shots and the importance of vaccination. I know no one likes needles — neither do I. But in this case it is so much more comfortable than a ventilator. So I’m going to keep pushing for safer communities.
What plans do you have to address climate change in Phoenix?
My dad keeps telling me that if I can just do something about the summer heat here I’ll be very successful.
We have tried to invest in a smarter transit system that gives people options, including walking, light rail, bicycling, and our voters supported us overwhelmingly when we’ve asked them to vote in favor of transit.
We are also trying to do better city design and use old-fashioned solutions such as tree planting, which we know can reduce the heat locally. We’re investing in cool pavement, which should retain less heat. We’re trying to reinvigorate our riverfront, which has been one of the great treasures that helps Phoenix develop but could also become a cool, comfortable, playful place for even more investment in recreation.
We have some neat things ahead, and I’m excited to get to work.
Are there issues the Jewish community should be watching for?
With the Jewish community, in particular, we are hopeful to strengthen and celebrate our sister city relationship with Ramat Gan in Israel and to try to build more trade ties. Arizona now has a trade office in Israel, and the city of Phoenix is working on a monthly basis with new projects all the time that are related to Israel. That is very exciting.
Do you get a lot of Jewish support in Phoenix?
I am honored to be the third Jewish mayor in Phoenix history, which is exciting. I do feel like I had broad support, including from the Jewish community, and actually was able to work and get support from Jewish mayors all across the country. We have been working together a lot this election cycle.
I feel honored and blessed by the support of the Greater Phoenix Jewish community.
After such a big win and a lot of national attention this year, what are your political ambitions?
I love being mayor of Phoenix. I grew up as a kid playing with Sim City, the game where you design cities. So this is a just a dream come true for me, and I’m excited to have a full four-year term. I’ve been on the ballot in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, and I’m very excited to focus on policy next year and not be on the ballot. JN