Masks, Jobs And Climate Top Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego’s Vision

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 3:47pm
Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 8:37am

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A day after Arizona’s schools superintendent called for a statewide mask mandate, Phoenix’s mayor is doing the same.

During her State of the City address, Kate Gallego called on Gov. Doug Ducey to issue a mask mandate and keep it in place until there is wide distribution of a vaccine, more effective treatments or both.

“We don’t know when a vaccine will be ready,” she said. “However, we do know that even in the best of circumstances, it will take months to deliver this vital shot in the arm to everyone in Arizona.

The city is coordinating with the county’s health department on a vaccination plan. As of Nov. 16, Maricopa County had almost 177,000 COVID-19 cases. Of those, more than 75,000 were in Phoenix.

Phoenix and Maricopa County already have mask requirements and Governor Ducey has encouraged people to wear masks and take other precautions. His office has not yet responded to our request for comment about Gallego’s call for a statewide mandate.

Gallego also promoted what she calls, “the biggest job-creating, economy-driving deals in the city’s history.” On Wednesday, the City Council is scheduled to vote on a development agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. If approved, the city could pay up to $205 million in public infrastructure. In exchange, the city expects the company to build a $12 billion plant that could create about 1,900 full-time jobs over five years. Production would begin in 2024. 

man sitting in chair talking to woman sitting in chair
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Greater Phoenix Chamber President and CEO Todd Sanders interviews Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego between a plexiglass barrier on November 17, 2020.

The company has not yet announced the location but the city’s planning and development department, in partnership with the Arizona State Land Department, initiated a General Plan Amendment and rezoning application for about 3,500 acres at the northwest corner of Interstate 17 and the Loop 303. The council recently approved the request which allows for a mix of commercial and commerce/business park uses.

Gallego highlighted changes involving the Phoenix Police Department, including a move away from military style training to scenario-based training. Earlier this year by a 5-4 vote, the council approved a new civilian oversight office and on Tuesday Gallego announced Phoenix’s latest changes to use of force policies. 

“We are trying to follow the national best practices in policy,” she said. “Eight Can’t Wait is a well-researched platform that suggests eight concrete changes to police policy that can significantly reduce dangerous interactions between police and the, public, for example: a bank on chokeholds; a verbal warning before firing a weapon; and a duty to intervene if fellow officers exceed their authority. Phoenix has achieved six of the Eight Can’t Wait benchmarks, and I am excited to announce for the first time we will achieve all eight by the end of this year.”

Gallego used this year’s record heat in Phoenix to emphasize work to mitigate climate change. She pledged to chart a path to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Read The Mayor's Full Speech

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