Mesa City Council close to filling vacant District 3 seat
October 1, 2017
By Niki D’Andrea
Mesa City Council will soon be whole once again.
The council and Mesa Mayor John Giles selected five finalists for the vacant District 3 council seat at a September 21 meeting. At press time, the City Council planned to select the new councilmember from those candidates at a meeting on September 28.
“We came up with five people, fairly diverse, but any one of these five would be an outstanding councilmember, and many of those who didn’t make the final five would have been outstanding, as well,” Giles said.
Thirty-one eligible applicants applied for the seat. The five finalists are Pablo Felix, Francisco Heredia, Frank Mizner, Theresa Ratti and Christian Stumpf. Applicants must have resided in District 3 for at least two years to be eligible for the appointment.
“I was really pleased with the number of responses we got,” Giles said. “I was really encouraged. I think that’s a sign of a healthy community that we’ve got that level of interest from people that want to be involved in government and in representing their part of town and contributing to Mesa city government.”
“During the evaluation process, all of our council spent a great deal of time evaluating each one of those applications – there was no one that was overlooked or wasn’t considered,” Giles added. “That was a pretty time-consuming and thorough process.”
Giles said in addition to being a resident of District 3 for a minimum of two years, there were other important criteria considered when selecting the finalists. “A few qualities I was looking for are, we need someone who is passionate about that part of town. If they’re not, they’re going to be quickly tossed to the curb by the folks who live in District 3. It’s got to be someone who genuinely cares about the issues being dealt with in District 3, and it needs to be someone who can be an effective advocate,” Giles said. “So ‘passionate’ is a word I think is important, and ‘advocate,’ as well – can solve problems and come to the council and state government and be a good advocate for the challenges we have in District 3.
“But at the same time, it’s got to be someone who is a team player, someone who realizes that when you’re on the City Council, you don’t just represent your district; you have to be concerned about the overall well-being of the city,” Giles continued. “You can’t be blind to what’s going on in other parts of town; you’ve got to be a team player that’s trying to raise all the boats in our city harbor. You have to represent your region, but at the same time, you do represent your entire city.”
The District 3 council seat has been open since August 31, when Mesa City Council unanimously voted that former councilman Ryan Winkle had violated the panel’s code of conduct and was unfit to hold public office after Winkle was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.
Winkle’s former district is a “particularly involved council district,” according to Giles. “There’s some well-organized neighborhoods. For example, the Dobson Ranch Homeowners Association is part of that district. It’s not just that HOA; there are others that are also very involved. You’ve got neighborhoods that host a lot of activities – they’re very involved in block watch, they’re very involved in expressing their concerns to the city,” Giles said. “It’s kind of a high-maintenance part of town, and I mean that in a good way. These are people that are engaged and involved in their community. So that council seat will require somebody who’s very engaged, very willing to be in the neighborhood talking to people [and] responding to constituent concerns. You have to be particularly aware of the needs of your community if you’re going to represent District 3.”
Giles feels good about the prospects, saying in advance of the September 28 meeting, “There will be a lot of questions asked, and I think that will help us make a good decision.
“I don’t think we can make a bad decision – any one of these five people, and many others on that list of 31, would be a great City Council member,” Giles added. “We’re in good hands. I’m looking forward to getting the council back at full strength. We’ve got a lot of pressing issues at the city that we need a seven-member council to resolve effectively. I’m looking forward to, this time next week, having a full council again.”
The appointee will serve as the District 3 councilmember until the election on August 28, 2018. If a runoff election is required, it will be held November 6, 2018.