Bill Spence | Age: 52 | Years in Gilbert: 11 | Occupation: Retired military/consultant | Education: Nuclear engineering | Immediate family: Son, daughter | Community/civic involvement: Parent Teacher Organization, homeowners association, numerous veterans events and initiatives.
1. What skills set you apart from the other candidates?
I have a decades long record of superior leadership and an extensive engineering background. I served as a senior manager for maintenance organizations comprised of thousands of military and civilian personnel. Developed and supervised the processes to identify, fund, schedule, implement and certify over $1 billion of maintenance and modernization that includes water distribution, smart controls systems, and quality control.
2. Name your top three priorities:
- Revitalize and recover Gilbert’s economy with emphasis on small business and jobs.
- Implement a comprehensive infrastructure and road improvement plan that ensures that we get the best product at the best price to meet our future needs.
- Work closely with Economic Development and Zoning to ensure smart and controlled growth such that our “small-town’ feel is never lost.
3. Should the economic fallout of COVID-19 worsen for town finances, what measures would you recommend to avoid cuts/disruptions in services?
I believe that small business and a strong housing market are key to both the post-COVID and long-term sustainability of our economy. We must support innovation and adaptation of new business models and evaluate any regulations that may help our recovery. Several businesses have created entirely new revenue streams. We should share the best ideas through knowledge sharing networks.
4. Should Cactus Yards be sold to a private operator? Why or why not?
While it is always prudent to evaluate all options, Cactus Yards had some impressive numbers upon reopening in a post-COVID environment. I think it’s too soon to determine what options provide the most benefit for Gilbert.
5. What should the town do with recycling since it no longer generates revenue?
There are several factors to consider, specifically, the type of material being recycled has different issues. Most of our challenges involve the recycling of paper products once sold to China through vendors. I believe that there will soon be domestic options available. Additionally, we may be able to employ some additional processes to curb possible cost increases in the short-term.
6. What is your assessment of the relationship between Gilbert Police and the community and what changes, if any, would you advocate?
Gilbert has one of the finest police departments in the country. However, diversity is an issue that needs to be addressed. I will be hands-on in helping correct this problem. I will ensure that our Police/Fire Training Facility is equipped to conduct both hands-on and classroom training to clearly teach tactical techniques, rules of engagement, and positive community interaction techniques.
7. The town’s updated general plan goes to voters in August, do you support the update? Why or why not?
I do support the General Plan. I have spent the last few months going through all facets with emphasis on smart growth and infrastructure which is vital to ensuring the long-term economic prosperity of Gilbert.
8. Do you think the town’s “City of the Future Initiative” does enough to ensure Gilbert continues to thrive well into the future?
This initiative is only one of a multi-prong approach to assuring that we continue to thrive. We must continue to engage with residents and small business, as well as adjacent municipalities, so that we may gain buy-in and capitalize on the best ideas and opportunities provided by this initiative. When East Valley succeeds, Gilbert succeeds!!
9. Name three things you would fix or improve with town government.
- Improve the communication with residents. We must be more transparent and better at educating residents on complex issues.
- Improve diversity especially within our Police and Fire departments.
- Continue to look for opportunities to prevent redundant work during infrastructure projects. Let’s look ahead and do all upgrades such that we tear up a road only one time!!
10. Name three things the town does right.
Budget and bond management is AAA perfect - literally!!
Our long-range infrastructure plan looks out over the next 80-100 years and needs to be followed and refined as we complete projects.
We must continue to promote our small-town values in all that we do – from people to buildings to recreation events. We are uniquely Gilbert and we need to stay that way!
Spence: We must capitalize on revenue opportunities
By Bill Spence
My vision for the buildout for Gilbert is consistent with the plans already promulgated by the town.
In order to ensure the long-term prosperity without ever requiring the need for a primary property tax, we must build in a way that our sales tax revenue stream remains strong and resilient.
As I stated in my appointment interviews and numerous times since, I believe in strategic zoning with particular attention being paid to areas adjacent to other municipalities.
We must capitalize on opportunities to bring daily revenues from outside Gilbert and I believe that small business is the key.
The Heritage District is a popular destination for families from Mesa, Chandler and Tempe and returns three dollars for every dollar invested. Elsewhere in Gilbert, our smart commercial development strategy is expected to return seven dollars for every dollar invested in infrastructure.
While strategic commercial development is key to our economic future, we must never lose sight of our values and “small-town” appeal.
Housing must be zoned and built with consideration of the needs of the communities. A comprehensive approach to blend residential, retail and commercial needs for the benefit of the area is crucial.
The “loop of our daily life” must be considered such that our needs from the moment we wake up until we go to bed are satisfied. Reliable services, clean water, shopping and recreation, and preserving a community feel must always be a priority.
While our build-out plans have been discussed and implement for quite some time, our “re-buildout” plans need to be discussed as well. We have areas that are aging and are in need of a refresh.
This is an opportunity for Gilbert to revitalize stagnant commercial areas with innovative business opportunities.
I envision certain areas becoming a destination for professional services such that residents will no longer need to drive to their offices in Phoenix or Scottsdale, but rather they can keep their business close to home and eliminate their need to commute and spend money outside Gilbert.
When business succeeds, Gilbert succeeds. Also, with regard to “re-buildout,” there are increasing opportunities to buy a home that is in need of an upgrade and remodel.
This is a prime market to find affordable housing and fix-it-up for keeping or for reselling. Gilbert’s reputation, low taxes, public services, schools and recreation makes us a top destination for families.
Lastly, buildout needs to be done smartly. When you take your car in to change the timing belt, you do the water-pump at the same time because the engine is already torn apart.
The same mindset needs to be applied to our infrastructure upgrades. We must look ahead and plan work such that all foreseeable work under a road is done when the road is installed or repaired such that we tear up roads ONE TIME.
Smart work and proper planning is the key to saving money and getting a quality product. These ideas have been my specialty for decades. I’m excited to bring my experience to Gilbert!!