Local election candidates speak at Chamber forum

David Sowders/Arizona Silver Belt Incumbent Mariano Gonzalez and challenger Matthew Storms, candidates to represent District 5 on the Globe City Council, took questions at the Chamber of Commerce candidate forum.

On Wednesday evening, five candidates for local government offices attended a forum in the Globe City Council chambers at City Hall. The event, hosted by the Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce, gave each of them a chance to introduce themselves to the public. The forum also featured a question-and-answer session with the two candidates in the only contested local race.

In that race, to represent District 5 on the Globe City Council, incumbent Mariano Gonzalez faces challenger Matthew Storms. Gonzalez was appointed to the seat in May 2021 after the resignation of Councilmember Charlene Giles. “Since then, I hit the ground running; I had to,” Gonzalez said  Wednesday evening. “I had to lend some expertise from my career to assist the city in dealing with fires and flooding.” Gonzalez came to the council with extensive emergency management experience, including 16 years with Gila County. Asked what he was most proud of as a councilmember, he named the city’s pool renovation project. “Just to open it would have been an accomplishment in any case. To see what it’s coming to be now is a very satisfying moment. It’s going to be quite a showcase for the region.”

“I love to serve,” Storms said when asked why he wanted to represent District 5. “Ever since I moved here, I got involved.” Storms gave examples of his community involvement; chairing the Cobre Valley Youth Club and the hospital foundation, working with Gila County on their foster care board, serving on the Globe Downtown Association, and as a member of the Globe and Miami Rotary Clubs. “I think District 5 needs strong representation. The City does act as a whole, but each councilperson should represent their district strongly.”

“There are 7,400 people who live in the city, and while we do have one of the largest districts I believe every councilmember has the responsibility first to all 7,400,” said Gonzalez. “If you look at all the agendas and the meeting minutes, this council sticks to that one thought: What’s the greatest good for the greatest number of people?” To connect with constituents, Gonzalez has held Monday afternoon office hours at the Globe Public Library. “I think that’s a goal we as a city should expect of our elected councilpeople – accessibility, physical access.”

If elected, Storms said, he would like to focus on solutions to the housing issue. With some property owners using downtown buildings for storage, Storms would also be open to the idea of a warehouse tax. “I know many small towns have gone that way and found success with it. I would be interested in looking at it because I think we all deserve to have a thriving downtown. If you want a thriving downtown you can’t have empty storefronts.”

“At least it’s bringing in revenue on one hand; a business owner was savvy enough to go rent a building. On the other hand we’d rather have active businesses; I agree with that,” Gonzalez replied. “We have to create, and continue creating, a larger blanket of opportunity for business owners to want to come here.”

Other candidates attending the forum were Globe City Councilmember Jesse Leetham, seeking re-election in District 3; Gila County Justice of the Peace – Globe Jordan Reardon, seeking his second straight term; and Globe Vice Mayor Mike Stapleton. Asked about their biggest accomplishments, Leetham and Stapleton listed the pool project, the city’s Strategic Action Plan, the creation of an IT department and economic development department, reducing PSPRS liability and supporting the Hill Street School housing project. They added, however, that the council worked together as a team on those goals. Leetham, Reardon and Stapleton are running unopposed.

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