CASA GRANDE — Mayor Craig McFarland is hoping voters will give him another term to work on his wish list of improvements to the city.
McFarland is currently the only person who has announced that he is running for mayor in 2020. Three council seats and the mayor’s seat are open in next year’s city elections. The city primary election is Aug. 4. McFarland has served as mayor since December 2016.
Council terms are four years and the mayor can serve four consecutive two-year terms.
“I still have things I want to accomplish,” he said.
McFarland said he and the City Council have accomplished a number of things since he first took office.
The city was able to move improvements on Interstate 10 from the Arizona Department of Transportation’s 10-year plan to near the top of ADOT’s five-year plan, he said. They were able to get the freeway signs changed so visitors knew better where to get off for Casa Grande.
The city also saw a lot of growth in industry with the announcement of Lucid Motors coming to the area, new ownership at The Promenade at Casa Grande and now the possibility of the old Sacaton mine reopening in the future, he said.
McFarland believes that PhoenixMart and Dreamport Villages are still possibilities. He said he recently spoke to a representative of PhoenixMart and was told that the company is still working on raising funds for the project.
“It’s still got a pulse,” he said.
McFarland said he would like to continue the work the city has been doing with the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and the school districts on building a strong workforce for industry.
“How do we get students interested (in the jobs that are coming to the area)? What about the kids who don’t want to go to college?” he asked.
The schools and the businesses have stepped up with new career and technical education programs at the high schools for students who are interested in construction or other trades, and Pinal Alliance for Economic Growth has its Achieve Pinal program. Achieve Pinal is focused on encouraging Pinal County adults and students to get a four- or two-year degree or certification for a career. The idea is to create a better educated and skilled workforce that will draw more industry to the county.
“We’re working better together today than before,” he said referring to the collaboration between local businesses, the city and the schools. “I’m really excited to see where this takes us.”
The next step is to start work on creating more affordable and more workforce housing, which are two different things, McFarland said. The city needs affordable housing for everyone who wants to live here, but it also needs enough housing for people who will come to work here. That includes housing for construction workers who will build Lucid as well as the permanent employees who will work at the plant.
McFarland is also hoping to continue his push for better roads in Casa Grande and in the county. Better roads mean more visitors to the city, a nicer drive for residents and an easier commute for residents who live in Casa Grande but work elsewhere.
Water is a big concern for McFarland. The city is involved in a study of the local groundwater basin and hopes that the study can provide more concrete information about the city’s groundwater supply and the best ways to use, conserve and reuse the water.
The information from the study could be used to update development requirements in the General Plan, such as requiring developers to install more drought-friendly landscaping, he said.
He also plans to continue pushing for a better quality of life for Casa Grande residents. The new Community Recreation Center was just a start, he said. The center has provided a place for families to enjoy activities together and a safe place for students after school with the help of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Casa Grande Valley.
McFarland said he hopes to create a citywide bike trail system that will allow residents to easily travel around town and possibly link up with the city trails at Casa Grande Mountain. He wants to partner with developers to help construct the trails.
He also wants to continue to update the city’s parks and add more family-friendly activities to the parks.
“I plan to stay here,” he said. “I’ve always said that Casa Grande is a great place to live. I want to make it even better. I want to give back to the community.”