Q. Is tourism important to Florence? If so, do we have all we need to offer tourists a worthwhile experience? If not, what ingredients or pieces do we need to complete the package, and how do we get them?

Johnie F. Mendoza: Shop local in one way helps our economy but we need outside money and foot traffic to really prosper. Tourism is very important. Currently we do not have what we need to be a worthwhile destination. We are a good old western town, we are older then Tombstone and we host the largest and oldest junior rodeo. Tombstone burn to the ground and was rebuilt. Lets reinvent Florence, lets build a covered rodeo arena, clean the sounding areas, and rebuild main street.

Arthur “Snake” Neal: Yes, tourism is very important for town revenue. I feel that once the pandemic is over, with more advertising of the programs that are in place, and some added programs as the come available, a long with a lot of town support, we can get tourism back to what it once was.

Bill Tanner: Tourism is vital to our future and it is tied directly to economic vitality. We need to support a community transformation by enhancing the historic physical and visual assets that sets Florence apart from other communities. We need to better promote the downtown and ALL of our Florence businesses in order to showcase our Town’s unique characteristics. And we need a Town staff that is willing to step up, create partnerships and devote needed resources to ensure the success of such an effort. Every community and commercial district are different, with its own distinctive assets and sense of place. I’m “all in” when it comes to tourism, economic vitality, job creation, the arts and historic preservation. Further, I believe that the Town Council should enable not block such efforts.

Vallarie Woolridge: Tourism is always a beneficial asset to any community. It not only generates revenue, but it will increase visitors to the Town by word of mouth if a visitor has a good experience. We have some tourist attractions, but we can always use additional ones. We need to have activities that highlight our historic label. I’m not sure what we can do to get someone to invest in our community. We have had groups organize street gunfights, etc., but it didn’t really catch on. It can be discouraging to invest your time and energy and not receive adequate support. I’m not sure what the solution is for getting something or someone to invest in getting additional activities in our Town. Hopefully the Economic Development Director can be creative enough to attract investors to Florence.

Q. What’s your favorite place to be, or thing to do, in Florence?

Mendoza: Florence is my home, watching my children play sports at Florence high school and the K-8’s, True value, every time I walk in there i see something i had not seen before. Talking to people in the silverking and the beauty of this building. The car show that seems to get bigger every year, the Christmas parade, I hear there’s a group working on decorating our fire truck with more lights and last but not least the food around town is the best.

Neal: My backyard, in front of my BBQ grill, some old school music playing, a cold one in my hand, my wife and kids in our pool. Relaxing, knowing that I live in a small, safe community that I grew up in and love.

Tanner: I love to watch the sunrise and the sunset. It’s free entertainment from God. There’s something about being in the desert that makes these two times of the day special and there’s no other placed I’d rather be than in Florence.

Woolridge: Florence has several interesting places to visit. We have wonderful parks, a museum, Aquatic Center, The Winery and several restaurants. I enjoy the museum and the variety of restaurants. Truthfully, I am really a homebody, so I enjoy the peace and quiet of just being at home in my neighborhood. One good thing about Florence is that we have safety, as well as peace and quiet. We are fortunate that we don’t hear sirens sounding all the time.

This is the third in a series of four articles in which the candidates for Florence Town Council respond in writing to questions from the Florence Reminder. Grammar and typos are the candidates’ own. Voters will elect two council members. The General Election is Nov. 3.


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.

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