For the first time in a dozen years, the Queen Creek Town Council has a new mayor and two new members.
Julia Wheatley was sworn in Jan. 18 as mayor and takes the gavel from Vice Mayer Jeff Brown, who had the job temporarily following the death last June of Mayor Gail Barney.
“When I started this 12 years ago, my kids were little,” Wheatley said. “Now my youngest is 6’6,’” she said as she reflected on the growth she has seen during her tenure on the council.
“Our little secret of the Town of Queen Creek has definitely gotten out,” she said.
Wheatley and Brown are joined by incumbents Dawn Oliphant, Leah Martineau, Robin Benning and two newly sworn members, Bryan McClure and Travis Padilla.
“I really am humbled by this,” McClure said. “It’s going to be an honor to serve my hometown.”
Padilla shared the sentiment.
“Wow. It’s hard not be emotional when I look out into the crowd and see those who supported me through this campaign,” said Padilla, who asked Congressman Andy Biggs to administer the oath of office to him.
With the new council members will come new priorities. In interviews with The Tribune, McClure and Padilla talked about some of theirs.
How will you work with other Council members who have more experience than you do?
Padilla: “I look forward to listening to and learning from the insights and ideas of the other councilmembers and coming to a consensus on the best direction forward for the town,”
McClure: “Although I’ve been heavily involved in the community for many years, I understand that I still have much to learn. I intend to ask our experienced council members many questions, draw on their wisdom & insight, and provide a fresh perspective as we work hand in hand to solve the challenges of our growing community.”
What are your priorities for your early days on council?
Padilla: “I will quickly begin gearing up to make important decisions by understanding current issues in depth and preparing for the strategic planning session that will take place at the end of February.”
McClure: “As a new council member, I will first listen more than I speak and study all I can so I may effectively acclimate to my new roles and responsibilities. I will also prepare for our strategic planning session to bring value to the council and staff as we strive to make Queen Creek an even better place to live, work, and play.”
Where do you think your background prepares you to make the most impact?
Padilla: “Queen Creek elected me because I’m a political outsider with business experience that I plan to use to increase efficiency at the town level and help solve the challenges it faces.”
McClure: “As a husband and father of five, I know what a family friendly community means and will do my best to preserve that feeling in our hometown.
“I was an airport planner in my former career, which taught me to properly plan for growth and invest in projects that bring the greatest benefit. As a small business owner and investment advisor, I understand finance and how to implement policies that support economic growth.”
What challenges do you see ahead?
Padilla: “The challenges facing Queen Creek include managing the town’s growth responsibly, keeping up with the demands of road infrastructure due to continued development, and fiscal responsibility to protect taxpayer dollars while maintaining essential town services for public safety.”
McClure: “With the town already building roads as fast as logistically possible, I see keeping up with infrastructure needs being a challenge. We must remain vigilant in our road improvements and continue to support public safety to provide the best quality of life for our residents.”
What opportunities do you see ahead?
Padilla: “In the words of a famous philosopher: “attachment is the enemy of enlightenment.” I believe within every obstacle lies the opportunity to not only fix a problem but to discover solutions that will improve a situation beyond the status quo.
We CAN work together to create ways to improve processes, procedures, and policies in the town that break the mold of doing things a certain way simply because “it’s the way we’ve always done them.”
But to do so we must take the risk of looking for opportunities to improve and I intend to do so in areas such as lowering property taxes, reducing regulation, lifting burdens on local businesses, and improving our infrastructure to create a booming Queen Creek economy and make our town the best place to live in Arizona.”
McClure: It’s an exciting time to live in Queen Creek. With our healthy local economy and population projected to double in the coming years, I see an opportunity to attract livable wage employment and provide amenities needed in the community.
I look forward to reduced commute times and bringing relief to taxpayers by spreading the cost of running a town to manufacturers who provide high wage employment to our residents.
What are the top three most important things to remember for the town to monitor as Queen Creek grows so quickly?
Padilla: To manage growth responsibly, to support public safety including better roads, and to maintain fiscal responsibility.
Family-friendly. For families to thrive we must continue to construct more roads and parks.
Supporting our brave first responders that keep our community safe is a top priority.
Creating a business-friendly environment is important to attracting good paying jobs and small businesses. We must commit to keeping taxes low and ensuring the town government operates within its means.