A son of immigrant migrant farm workers was appointed to the Mesa City Council on Sept. 28, replacing ousted District 3 Councilmember Ryan Winkle.
Francisco Heredia, a consultant who formerly worked for the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office, was sworn into office and took his seat next to other council members.
Heredia, who moved to Mesa in 2015, was chosen from what Mesa Mayor John Giles described as a strong list of four finalists who were interviewed in public session after a fifth finalist withdrew his name from consideration.
Heredia’s interim post runs for a year, until August 2018, when the next city election is scheduled. He said he already is planning to run for a full four-year term.
“I will let the voters decide. I think District 3 needs continuity,” Heredia said. “It’s a journey that started with my parents. That background led me to pursue my goals.”
Heredia said he is family man who is involved with youth sports through his children. He said he has worked in the past to assist immigrants in pursuing citizenship and registering to vote.
Heredia vowed to work with other council members and said the city needs to stress its assets, including Mesa Public Schools and Mesa Community College, while pursuing additional businesses and redevelopment.
“It’s to move the city and District 3 to greater heights,” Heredia said.
Winkle served on the council for only a few months, after he replaced longtime Councilmember Dennis Kavanagh, who could not run again because of term limits. Winkle ignited a political debate when he was arrested in Tempe in May and subsequently pleaded guilty to extreme driving under the influence.
Despite many apologizes and enrolling in substance abuse treatment, Winkle eventually was unanimously removed from the council for violating the panel’s code of conduct. He took a leave of absence after his arrest, but that left District 3, a diverse area of southwest Mesa, without representation for months.
“We have been without representation for five months. That is a source of frustration,” said Frank Mizner, a former Mesa planning director and longtime Dobson Ranch community activist, who also was a finalist for the council seat. “We don’t have a voice in the community.”
The other finalists interviewed for the post were Theresa Ratti, a longtime teacher at Mesa High School and Westwood High School, and Pablo Felix, a district manager with ADP who had formerly worked for Spanish language television and radio stations.
Christian Stumpf, director of external affairs at the Nature Conservancy and a former lobbyist for the American Lung Association of the Southwest, withdrew his application.