Florence Town Hall (copy)

Florence Town Hall

FLORENCE — Candidates for Town Council were asked for three words that other organizations they’ve worked with would use to describe their participation or leadership style, at an online forum June 24 hosted by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

Gary Mittendorf said it’s “leadership,” as he’s been active in the Boy Scouts at the pack level and district level. He said he’s also been vice president or president of construction-related groups, including architectural, engineering and building firms prominent in state, and was fortunate to be on their boards.

“But I would say probably the big thing is just being able to take something, run with it, do a good job, help out and work as a team.” Mittendorf said he learned to be fairly decent at negotiating, getting bids and working with other contractors.

Jeff Reel said he’s spent his adult life being a public servant. During his 30 years in law enforcement, he was involved in state organizations and served on several committees. He served as first vice president of a large state organization before he retired.

Reel said he also had the opportunity to negotiate with elected officials for what his officers needed. At the end of his career, he was assigned to work under the direction of the U.S. Marshals Service on court security throughout the state of Ohio.

“I think I’ve had a lot of opportunity to show some leadership skills. I’ve also had experience with budgets and working with a lot of people,” Reel said.

Bill Tanner said he’s been privileged to be a member of several organizations including the Chamber of Commerce; he was an alternate on the Planning and Zoning Commission; and was appointed by the governor to a state board.

He said he’s a man of “faith,” believes in God and believes the American form of government is a gift of God. The second word, he said, is “integrity,” “a critical component of service whether in the public sector or the private sector.”

The third word, Tanner said, is “hard-headed,” and “I think people will acknowledge that when I get involved in an issue, I just don’t accept the first response as the answer.”

Vallarie Woolridge said she’s “always there,” “reliable” and “truthful.” “Being able to tell the truth without fear of reprisal is important, because that is what we need to stand on. Our country was built on God and truth, and we have strayed so far away from that. I always base my life on truth,” and has served on groups and committees that required integrity, she said. “Truth and honesty is what I live my life by. My whole focus is to make life better for everybody.”

John K. Johnston said he’s known for being “thorough” and “essential.” “I can work with anybody, get along with almost anybody. At work, they also used to refer to me as Bing, or a search engine. If they had a question about something, I was the person they would refer to. I had people from other agencies calling and asking me questions. Higher-ups in my own agency would call and ask, ‘How do you do this?’ I work good under stress and I’m not scared of much.”

Arthur Neal said his first word is “honesty, the way I was raised.” The second word is “loyalty. My wife says I’m loyal to a fault. No. 3 I would say is I’m ‘Florence.’ I’m Florence from the parish hall to crazy Ana walking up and down the streets. I am Florence, 100%.”

Kristen Larsen said she’s had the opportunity to serve on lots of boards and committees. She said she’s known as a “listener,” someone who wants to be team-builder. She’s also an “advocate” — once the goals have been identified, she pushes for them. She said she’s also “hardworking and honest,” and when something isn’t working, she says so.

Johnie Mendoza said he was a leader in the military and led troops in two wars. Several men said they’d go to war with him anytime, “so being a leader is one.” He said he’s also honest, a listener and likes to work with people. He said he and his wife have been foster parents for 13 years, so he’s also an “advocate.”



Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.