FLORENCE — Mayor Tara Walter will seek a second term this year, she told the Florence Reminder in a year-end interview.

She also commented on the possibility of Anthem residents holding every Town Council seat, and an expensive new parks and rec plan that doesn’t include any new Anthem facilities.

All but one Town Council member is an Anthem resident, and after the next election, the Town Council could be all Anthem residents. But Walter said current and past councils have tried to make decisions that were best for the whole town.

“The answer to this question is really up to the voters and people who become motivated to run for positions,” Walter commented by email to the Florence Reminder. “At times in the history of the town, the council has reflected a 100% participation from one area. The reality is the focus of the candidates and truly taking pride to make decisions for the whole town.

“This issue has been discussed in length during the elections. The reality is that in order for the town to be successful all issues need to be handled in the best interest of the whole town, not just one geographic area. I can say that the councils that I currently and have served with, take this approach. Yes, there are different issues that affect different areas, but there are still seven people that discuss them and take action in the best interest of the overall town.”

As Vice Mayor John Anderson has noted, the new Parks and Recreation Comprehensive plan has some expensive items with no readily apparent funding sources, and it proposes no new park facilities in Anthem. Walter commented:

“Each year the council works with staff to pass a balanced budget. You are correct in saying there are no ‘readily apparent funding sources,’ because they are new projects that were not discussed during the budgeting process. There will have to be planning in the upcoming years to project size, cost, and timeframe. It is unlikely that anyone should expect to see all projects come to life in the next 12 months.

“To build new brings in different budget sources and grant allocations specific to new projects. When people think of these projects, it is important to know that the town budgeting process and funding allocation is pretty specific on ways to fund different items. For example, you can’t lay off employees to build a park, as they are different funding sources and cannot overlap. These projects have brought many new stakeholders to the table. There is much interest from different organizations to create partnerships and work together to create new destinations for people in our area and around the state.

“The development of our Town Parks and Recreation plan had input from all areas of the town. I was proud to attend these meetings and hear real ideas from the people. I also did not hear Anthem area residents talking about upgrading their amenities only. The residents want to see real upgrades to the town and welcome the opportunity to develop the downtown area to offer destinations and alleviate having to drive out of town to enjoy recreation and shopping opportunities.

“I don’t see developing areas of the downtown as taking away from Anthem residents or canceling their plans. I see an enhancement to OUR town and the ability to offer destinations and upgraded, new, facilities to our residents. There is pride in the historic nature of our town and people want to see it flourish.

2020 election

“I am planning on running for a second term as mayor of the town of Florence in the 2020 election. I am dedicated, hard working, honest, and have a vision for our town. I believe there is much opportunity for prosperity and growth that is upon us right now and I’m proud to be part of a monumental time in the history of the town of Florence. I am committed to keeping our Florence a great place to live. Part of that commitment is that three generations of my family live here. I have spent the greater part of my adult life educating myself and being directly involved in my community. Together we can ensure that Florence continues to be a community we can proudly call our home.

“In looking back on my term as mayor over the past three years, I’m keeping my promise to our citizens and continue to work hard to: keep our neighborhoods safe, with prompt emergency response times; focus on future growth while preserving our past; unify our town; and implement strategic planning with fiscal responsibility. To be honest, there have been numerous accomplishments that we have made as a town. None of them would be possible without the communication and direction between citizens, council and staff. As a whole, we bring forward concerns both from the citizens and our observations, in an effort to make positive changes for our community.”

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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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