Mayor John Giles

Mayor John Giles, after receiving a raise and voting “yes” on every agenda item in 2021, answered questions from the Tribune about his salary and his job.

Mesa Mayor John Giles remains the second-highest paid mayor in the state, taking home far more than the mayor of Tucson, which is slightly larger than Mesa.

Giles and the rest of City Council voted Nov. 15 to give themselves a raise.

But Giles said it’s not about the money. He said he is grateful for the opportunity to lead his hometown into continued economic boom times.

He was elected mayor in 2014, receiving a whopping 73 percent of the vote. 

In 2020, he was reelected with nearly twice as many votes but with the city’s population growing, his margin dropped to 66 percent – still comfortably ahead of challenger Verl Farnsworth.

Giles has an extended “swan song” as his second term extends until Jan. 1, 2025.

But what is he doing to deserve his hefty salary of just under $75,000 while council members will earn $41,782?

After returning from a trip to Washington D.C., where he said – phoning into a Mesa City Council meeting – he was lobbying to make sure Mesa got its share of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, Giles answered the Tribune’s questions about his job and his raise.

As Thanksgiving approached, he said he was extremely thankful to be doing “the best job I’ve ever had.”

Tribune: About how many hours per week do you work?

Giles: In this role, you are always mayor. While in the office, at events, in meetings, at dinner or at my grandkid’s soccer games. While our office hours are Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., our elected officials do what is needed when it is needed no matter the time of day or day of the week.

Tribune: If you weren’t in politics/public service, what would you be doing?

Giles: I am an attorney and have a law office in downtown Mesa. I’m also an adjunct professor in the ASU School of Law.

Tribune: When are you available to meet with citizens who have concerns about any issues, and how would they arrange a meeting?

Giles: Mesa residents are encouraged to reach out via phone or email to my office to schedule a meeting. Most issues are initially addressed at a staff level and are frequently resolved. If that is the case, I receive an update from staff. I value the perspectives of our residents and I enjoy hearing from them.

Tribune: A review of minutes from 2021 shows that you did not vote ‘no’ on any agenda items. How would you answer someone who says “Giles is just a ‘yes man’ who approves anything Brady wants”?

Giles: When something comes before Council for a vote at a meeting, that is not the first time the issue is being discussed. Many items on our agendas have spent months, if not years, getting to the point of a council vote. Staff and constituent meetings, board and committee meetings, community feedback, staff presentations and recommendations, council feedback, research and discussions all inform decisions made at council meetings.

Tribune: What are some of the things you did so far in 2021 that you are most proud of – and feel help justify your pay?

Giles: I did not seek out this role for the salary and wouldn’t want to tie Mesa’s momentum to the compensation of staff, council or mayor. I’m proud of how the City of Mesa responded to COVID-19, of how we are experiencing economic growth, of our education partnerships and our investment in public safety.

But those accomplishments belong to all of us – our staff, our residents and others who work for the advancement of our city. We all have a role to play in service to our community.

Tribune: There’s an old phrase heard from time to time: “I love my job so much, I would do it for free!” ...Does that apply to you?

Giles: I love working in service of my hometown and it is extremely rewarding to achieve big goals working in partnership with staff, residents, stakeholders and other elected officials. I’ve said on many occasions that being mayor is the best job I’ve ever had and I encourage everyone that has an inkling to get involved in public service. While this role and the role of councilmember are very rewarding, it also comes with great responsibility and should be compensated.   

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