The Times has asked the three candidates for Town Council, Gerry Friedel, Sharron Grzybowski and Peggy McMahon, and Mayor Ginny Dickey to respond to a series of questions regarding issues related to town government.
The questions posed are as follows:
1) There is a lot of discussion currently regarding the actions of law enforcement. What steps, if any, should be considered to assure adequate protection of citizen rights?
2) Revenue is usually a topic of discussion for elections. Late last year the council increased the local TPT and early indications are that was some help to the town coffers. However, Murphy’s Law took over with the pandemic/recession so it may be difficult to see exactly how much the TPT increase will help over the longer term. With that background how does the council need to plan for its budgeting, operations and capital outlays?
3) In recent years some proposed development for Fountain Hills has been controversial and divisive in the community. The General Plan Update with a 10-year horizon is on the ballot for November. Should the town look at the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance and the General Plan to assure there is a proper balance of regulation to protect both citizens and prospective developers?
This week Sharron Grzybowski provides her responses.
Question one: While I appreciate the question in today’s environment, council has minimal impact on how our Sheriff’s Department operates since our service is under contract through the MCSO. We can, of course, try to influence police policy, for example “no chokeholds.”
I support the co-responder program from the June 16 White House executive order. Our police are overextended and don’t necessarily need to be the first responder for every call. Perhaps what we’ve become used to as a “traditional” police force can be broken down into specific services; calls come in to one central line and the dispatcher is trained to know where to direct the call. For example, a homeless person trespassing isn’t necessarily violent; perhaps a uniformed officer and a social worker would respond together. Once the social worker has assessed a non-violent situation, the armed officer would then be free to assist in other matters.
Question two: We need to continually review and manage the budget, focusing on shortfalls and ways to mitigate them. The COVID-19 crisis makes our job more difficult. It’s becoming obvious that we cannot plan too far into the future, reviewing the budget quarterly is the first step. As an example, I support the council’s recent agreement to postpone some of the recently discussed capital projects
Question three: We should review and potentially rezone.
We need to review balancing requests while still allowing development to occur. This town will not survive with the status quo. It is important to continually review zoning ordinances to ensure equity with our residential growth. Commercial vacancies can skew perceptions that our town is not thriving – in reality, we have more commercial land than we need for our population. The commercial zoning was initially created for a population of 75,000; as it stands, Fountain Hills will likely have approximately 35,000.
Grzybowski used some of her word allotment to talk about her background.
After managing family businesses for a number of years, I worked accounts receivable for a computer sales company and then for a major insurance company, moving from underwriter to compliance analyst. My husband and I owned a small boutique fitness center. I’ve designed closets, been a secret shopper, worked as a bank teller and in a property management office.
Currently, I am an independent Scentsy consultant. My husband and I purchased a building on the Avenue and turned it into a venue for small businesses to hold open houses or teach small classes.
As a volunteer, I’m a range safety officer for a women’s shooting club. I’m currently on the Fountain Hills EVIT Business Accelerator and Fountain Hills Leadership Academy boards. I’m also on the Fountain Hills Celebrates 50 Committee and spent two years on the Make a Difference Day Planning Committee. Last year, I was auction chair for the River of Time Museum’s fundraising dinner. I volunteered for the downstairs Town Hall reception desk three hours per week from fall 2018 until March. I’ve also served on the Community Services Advisory Commission since 2017.