In every corner of our community there are leaders having an impact on the lives of our youth. In their own way, civic leaders, educators, and non-profit groups provide opportunities that enrich the lives of young people. However, many of these resources can be wasted or misguided, even fail, if we do not have the most critical stakeholder at the table: young people themselves.

If we wish to enlist the voices and passion of youth, and engage them in the initiatives so critical to our future, then we must demonstrate trust through shared leadership. Shared leadership proves that a community truly values youth. By trusting young people enough to give them a share of leadership now, they can develop a lifetime of commitment to civic engagement, and we will all realize the benefits of a focused, trained, and enthusiastic “next generation” of community leaders.

Shared leadership requires collaboration, respect, vision, and perseverance to initiate change and growth. Shared leadership creates an authentic relationship between the adult and young community, the cornerstone to open communication and teamwork.

I am helping lead a new initiative in the West Valley embracing the shared leadership model. The newly formed West Valley Youth Leadership Council (WVYLC) is seeking out young energy and talent, and plugging them into the planning, building and change that is defining our dynamic region.

The recent first meeting of the WVYLC at Arizona State University, West Campus was charged with energy and enthusiasm. Students from the around the West Valley discussed fresh ideas that, if nurtured and allowed to grow, will have a positive impact on the region.

The West Valley, like our young people, is just now realizing our own endless possibilities. Our success rides on vision and leadership of today and tomorrow. To ensure a prosperous future, we need our youth to lead, and be filled with the confidence, integrity, assertiveness, and vision leadership requires.

Consider this column a shout out to young people all over the West Valley. Are you interested in making change happen, meeting other enthusiastic people and developing a vision for our community’s future? Join our leadership team at the next meeting, December 15 . To apply, or for more information, send me an email at

I look forward to hearing from you, and working with you to shape the future.

Good Afternoon Friends and Colleagues,
It’s been a while since my last update, but it hasn’t been for a lack of items to report!!

How do we compare?

AZCentral has posted a great tool to compare cities in the valley. Click on the link and see how we stack up! One thing to be proud of is the safety of our community in comparison to other valley cities. Surprise is significantly safer, which is a critical reason of why many of us chose this community. This is a credit to our public safety department, as well as the active and engaged residents of Surprise. Thanks!!!

What’s new in Economic Development?

The link above will show you what’s new in our city from a jobs standpoint. The retail industry continues to improve as well, as we welcome Steinmart to the City of Surprise.

Building Surprise Youth Leadership:

Over the summer City hall welcomed a number of young high school students as Summer Interns in various city departments. The interns that worked with the Mayor and Council helped me initiate the expansion of our current youth groups, increasing civic engagement opportunities for our young folks. They also helped with the creation of a West Valley Youth Leadership Council, to actively encourage and engage our young leaders on a larger stage.

The structure for our youth leadership groups were revamped and expanded. First, we’ve expanded our Teen Advisory Commission by increasing the number of participants working in conjunction with our Community and Recreation Department on various community initiatives and City events. Next, as a City Council, we formally commissioned the Surprise Youth Leadership Commission as the newest Board and Commission in our city. This group will be exclusive to High School seniors and will work directly with Mayor and Council. We are still accepting applications, which you can find at the following link on the Surprise website, “Teen Spot”

Going Regional with Youth Leadership:

The second youth initiative was the building and planning of a more regional approach to youth civic engagement. This has been a great collaboration with various institutions and regional leaders like Westmarc (, Leadership West (, ASU West, and various West Valley Cities including Phoenix, Avondale, Buckeye, Glendale, Peoria, Goodyear, and Wickenburg. The West Valley Youth Leadership Council is an opportunity for West Valley Youth to engage their local and state leadership, have an impact on their communities, and cultivate their leadership skills. For a more detailed overview of the initiative, in addition to the application for interested high school students, download the West Valley Youth Leadership Council Packet.

303 Update:

This project continues to move forward as planned, and in a short time we will realize the benefit of this critical transportation corridor. Our portion in Surprise is on schedule for completion in 12 months, and in less than 2 years for the complete connection from I-17 to I-10. If you have concerns regarding this project, or if you wish to receive updates on the progress of this effort, click on the following link: If this still does not address any concerns let me know. ADOT has been a great partner to the city on this project, and in many instances has gone above and beyond to address resident concerns.

General Plan Advisory Committee Recommendations:

We need your input on the future of our city. You can go to the online survey RIGHT NOW and provide your thoughts on the future growth of Surprise,

Upcoming events and initiatives:

  • Budget Discussion and finalizing the ongoing audits of our City’s finances (this should be complete by December)!
  • Goal setting for the strategic plan!
  • Update on recently developing Economic Development activities!
  • Continuing to work on improvements to our streets, sidewalks, increased bike/golf paths, and increased leisure and recreational activities

As always, please call or email me anytime on any issue!

Good Afternoon District 3,

Couple quick items:

• Transportation division has updated the city website with some great resources, click on the following link to check it out:

• Pride Day Community Clean-Up, May 12, 7:30AM, Surprise Stadium. Monday’s Pride Day planning meeting went well! For those that could not attend, we need your help in recruiting volunteers and sponsors! Contact neighborhood services at 623-222-3238 for more details, or you can reply to this email with any specific questions!

• Speaking of volunteering, this week is National Volunteer week. The following link provides a list of ways to get involved within your community:

• This Saturday from 8AM-1PM, the Surprise Be Green, Be Healthy Fair at the Surprise Recreation Campus! Check out the following link for more details:

• Got a College bound student at home? Perhaps a young freshman about to enter into high school, in need of a little motivation? I encourage all Surprise teens and parents to attend the May 20th event in Phoenix. Some of the top Universities in the nation are making their rounds, and this will be their only stop this year in Arizona! Shoot for the stars, and develop a better idea of what the requirements are to gain admissions into some of the top Universities in the country!

• Finally, below is a quick message from ADOT regarding the 303

 Loop 303 drivers: Watch for flaggers north of Waddell Road through Friday (April 20); brief stops are possible

Silent Witness offering cash reward in Loop 303 work-zone vandalism, theft

PHOENIX – Drivers who use Loop 303 in Surprise should be prepared to stop briefly as trucks hauling top soil cross the travel lanes just north of Waddell Road this week. Flaggers are stopping north- and southbound drivers when necessary between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily through Friday (April 20). Short, intermittent delays are possible. For your safety, the safety of other drivers and the work crew, be prepared to stop.

In Goodyear, McDowell Road will be closed in both directions between Citrus Road and Loop 303 from 11:30 p.m. Friday to 7:30 a.m. Saturday (April 21) and from 10 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday (April 22) for work on the traffic interchange at Loop 303 and Interstate 10. Drivers can use Van Buren Street as a detour.

UPCOMING: Loop 303 is scheduled to be closed in both directions between Peoria Avenue and Cactus Road from 10 p.m. Friday April 27 to 5 a.m. Monday April 30 for electric utility relocation work. Use Cotton Lane or Reems Road instead. Stay up-to-date about construction-related closures or restrictions on Loop 303.

Cash Reward: Silent Witness is offering a reward up to $1,500 for information leading to arrest or indictment of the person(s) responsible for theft and vandalism of construction equipment and glass blocks in the newly built sound walls on Loop 303 in Surprise. Find details here.

New Loop 303 Video and Blog: Watch our newest video and read our blog about the incredible amount of work done on Loop 303 between Peoria Avenue and Mountain View Boulevard as crews exceed 30-percent completion!

Survey Reminder: Have you taken our survey yet? It’s your chance to provide input on how we’re doing on the Loop 303 Improvement Project in Surprise. This survey is open until 5 p.m. MST April 25, 2012. We appreciate your feedback!

Good Morning Surprise and District 3,

Couple events and updates for you this morning before I head off to work!

  1. Wal-Mart on Waddell and 303 will be having their Grand Opening this week, April 11th!  A sign that we are climbing out of this recession and positive growth is underway along what will be the 2nd most significant corridor in Surprise!
  2. New small businesses seem to sprout up each day!  The newest, Desired Physiques Fitness Center and the address is 14763 W. Cactus Rd. STE 112!  We are excited to have them here in our city, so head on down and welcome small business owner Blaine Radke to the community as they help whip Surprise into shape!
  3. Many small chains have opened in recent months as well, including Naked Pizza, Jimmy Johns, and Rita’s Custard is on it’s way! 
  4. Finally, from a business side, Uptown Alley is in it’s final planning stages, no worries Mom and Dad, your kids will have something else to do besides the movie theater this summer!  (oh yeah, you can play too!) 
  5. Be Green, Be Healthy is coming up April 21st, click on the following link for more details
  6. On March 28th, Community Managers and our Neighborhood Services Director (and Pride Day guru)  Christina Ramirez, got together to discuss the planning for our 5th Annual Pride Day Community Clean-up!  For those unfamiliar with this event, we begin this during my first year in office (2008) as a response to the rising number of empty homes in our community.  This was never meant to solve the housing crisis, rather it brings all of us together as a community, lay claim to our City, and let everyone know that Surprise is a giant family that helps support each other, keeps our neighborhoods safe, and keeps our neighborhood clean!  While the foreclosure issues continue, it’s our hometown pride that keeps this event alive year after year!  While we may not have caused the blight, this event is a shining example of how we will not let it persists in small pockets of our city!  This Monday, 6:30PM, at Jims Burgers and Eggs (Cotton and Greenway, in the Fry’s shopping Center) we will come together as residents to discuss and continue planning for this event!  This was never meant to be a city driven initiative, but more of a community driven event!  Hope you can join me on Monday evening!  If you are busy, no worries, you can still volunteer and help out on Pride Day, May 12th, 7:30AM @ Surprise Stadium!

That’s all for now!  Have a great Tuesday!

Upcoming Events

March 13, 2012

Community Pride Day:  Staff has confirmed, our citywide Community clean-up is scheduled for Saturday May 12th.  We will once again convene at Surprise Stadium for a quick bite to eat, equipment distribution, and coordination of clean-up teams.  If you are interested in leading a team for this event, please email me as we will hold a planning meeting sometime in early April.


Surprise Youth Leadership Summit:  The date is set for May 11th.  More to come on this, as I meet with the Teen Advisory Board this Wednesday to discuss the planning of this event. 

Saturday, March 10th: The National League of Cities Leadership Training Institute began today, so before getting on a plane Sunday, I maximized my time with seminars including Problem Solving Teams are Effective City Councils and Strategic Collaboration to Strengthen Local Government.

The seminar with the most significant impact was on “Strategic Collaboration to Strengthen Local Government.”  The ongoing theme was to develop a strategy to ensure multiple perspectives are at the table when addressing an issue or resolving a problem.  I had an opportunity to work with other Councilmember’s in small groups discussing our varying challenges, and receiving feedback on ways to address these varying issues.

This training will be valuable in it’s application with a variety of the issues and initiatives I’m currently working on, including:  revamping Boards and Commissions with subcommittee members Councilmember Biundo and Councilmember Woodard; ensuring Surprise as a safe city and encouraging the continued growth of Neighborhood Watch programs; building Youth Leadership groups and initiatives; working collaboratively with neighboring municipalities on regional issues like economic development, transportation, and the housing market. 

In summary, much was completed in the short time in DC.  The relationship building with Congressman, the improvement of intellectual tools as a Councilmember, and the potential benefit all of this will bring to the city, made this a worthwhile experience!