Change could be the one word that ends up best describing Chandler in 2014 — even if the extent of the change isn’t immediately felt. Here is a preview:
• Three City Council seats as well as the mayor’s position are up for election and two of the council spots will be filled by newcomers.
• Loosening stipulations on what type of projects can fill in the city’s crown jewel, the Price Corridor development, were recommended in an independent study.
• Sean Duggan takes the reins at the Chandler Police Department that last went through a change at chief nearly a decade ago.
• Funding for schools statewide could begin to rebound slightly after multiple cuts the past few years.
• The city will hire a new city attorney and an assistant city manager, both of whom will help shape Chandler’s future.
• The city’s real estate market is expected to lead the recession recovery — though Chandler nears build out and must address issues regarding so.
The effect each of these areas has on others, however, isn’t likely to be felt this year.
Take the council seats. Those elections aren’t until November and the winners won’t take office until 2015.
Likewise, any changes the current City Council adopts toward more flexibility within the Price Corridor won’t fully manifest their effects until perhaps years down the road.
But any delay in the results shouldn’t diminish the importance of 2014 for Chandler.
“We are very optimistic about 2014,” Mayor Jay Tibshraeny said. “It was an outstanding year for Chandler in 2013 in all facets of government and we expect to carry momentum from 2013 into 2013.”
Tibshraeny’s position is up for re-election, though as of Thursday afternoon he was the only person to have filed paperwork to appear on the ballot. The deadline to complete such paperwork is May 28.
“We’re working really hard on our campaign,” said Tibshraeny, who skirted the question as to whether he would enjoy a full-fledged campaign should another candidate throw his or her hat in the ring.
The council seats to be vacated belong to Trinity Donovan and Jeff Weninger, both of whom will be termed out. Councilman Kevin Hartke’s seat also will be up for election and he already submitted paperwork to run again.
“I believe Chandler will have a continued run for a few years here and I believe it will be another banner year,” Hartke said.
Duggan, named chief last month after seven years as an assistant chief with the Scottsdale Police Department, will take over Jan. 13. He replaces Sherry Kiyler, who retired in July after nine years at the helm.
“Chief Duggan brings 27 years of progressive, responsible experience in all facets of police work,” Chandler City Manager Rich Dlugas said when he announced Duggan’s hire. “His record shows a commitment to community engagement and employee empowerment and he truly impressed our management team during interviews.”
Duggan expects a smooth transition from Kiyler and interim chief Dave Neuman.
“It’s a high-performing police department,” Duggan, who will hire a new assistant chief, said when his hire was announced. “I’m going to look, listen and learn when I get there.”
When it comes to education, the Chandler Unified and Kyrene school districts enjoyed a big 2013 with voter passage of 15 percent budget overrides for each. There isn’t as big an issue facing either district in the upcoming year that will actually begin July 1. But budgets will be important again.
“Hopefully we’re coming out of the recession and we’ll get back some of the (state’s) cuts to the budget,” Chandler Unified spokesman Terry Locke said. “We’ll keep an eye on the legislative session in the spring and react to it.”
As for the impact of the overrides, CUSD schools will see class sizes maintain their current levels, Locke said, and additional security in terms of officers and features like cameras will be added by next school year.
Districts statewide also will track whether State Superintendent of Education John Huppenthal decides to suspend his new accountability system for a year.
While Locke hopes local economy has put the recession behind, so too does the real estate market.
Maracay Homes CEO Andy Warren said the incremental improvements the market made since the crash in the 2000s should continue in 2014 at a clip closer to normal than it was prior to the market’s fall.
“I think that we are now finally reemerging into an era of a natural, healthy housing market,” Warren said. “If you look over the last 10 years, it really hasn’t been a healthy market.”
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