Chandler mayor touts perseverance, community strength in state of city

How the city coped with the COVID-19 pandemic was among topics covered in Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke’s state of the city address. –Chandler photo

Perseverance and community strength through the COVID-19 pandemic were the overriding messages during Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke’s state of the city address.

The address, hosted by Hartke and the City Council, was delivered virtually due to the pandemic.

Hartke discussed innovative actions by the city, businesses and nonprofits to adapt, connect and serve residents during the trying times.

“We have shown that when we come together, we can take on anything,” Hartke said.

“2020 was a year we will never forget. This past year was a year of learning, listening and adapting. We fought for our lives, for equity, for economic stability. The unparalleled challenges we faced tested Chandler’s spirit, but we grew stronger together. Our first responders, frontline workers, nonprofits, community organizations, local businesses and so many residents worked tirelessly to support this city.

Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke

“Through innovative partnerships, acts of kindness and an overwhelming response from the community, we persevered.”

Hartke announced that Honeywell has committed to a long-term lease of more than 150,000 square feet in West Chandler to produce N95 masks. Honeywell expects to hire hundreds of workers to support the manufacturing operations in the first year with the potential for growth in the coming three years.

“Fortune 100 companies like Honeywell can chose anywhere in the world to locate their manufacturing facilities like this and we are proud that Honeywell chose Chandler,” Hartke said.

The mayor noted that Chandler was chosen to be among the few locations in Arizona for initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution, praising  Chandler Fire and Police for their role.

The 2020 Chandler annual report, released in tandem with Hartke’s address, details accomplishments toward City Council strategic goals, accolades received and measures taken during the pandemic. The report is available at chandleraz.gov/2020annualreport.

“Year after year, Chandler is recognized as a top city to live, raise a family, find a job, for women in tech and much more,” Hartke said. “Some of my favorite new accolades, unique to 2020, include being a top 10 city to be quarantined, work from home and as one of the happiest cities in the U.S. Amidst a year where our lives were turned upside down, it is a true testament to the strength and hard work from this community that our city was still nationally recognized for all of these things.”

Other notable accomplishments in the 2020 annual report:

  • Business retention, expansion and attraction that is expected to create $437 million in capital investment and more than 2,500 jobs over the next three years.
  • More than 4,200 building permits issued at a combined value of more than $1.1 billion, a jump of 70 percent from the previous year.
  • Public Safety Training Center second phase completed, creating a state-of-the-art shooting range and judgement training for officers and an accredited paramedic training site.
  • Three new aerial ladder fire trucks placed into service.
  • Treated and delivered 11.8 billion gallons of drinking water and 11.2 billion gallons of wastewater to A+ standards for reclaimed uses.
  • Developed master plans for transportation, technology, airport, facilities and parks.
  • Formed the Chandler Museum Foundation and unveiled public-art murals downtown.
  • The #WaterYouDoing water safety campaign earned national recognition as nearly 9,000 residents were taught swimming and water-safety skills.

Hartke acknowledged For Our City Chandler for collecting donations and identifying community needs in response to COVID-19, for acting as a hub for non-profit and resident resources, and for facilitating distribution of more than $90,000 donated by Intel to Chandler nonprofits for services to people in need.

The mayor also noted that $30 million in AZCARES Funding “put money back into the hands that needed it most: our vulnerable populations and the business community.”

“Within our vulnerable populations, we focused on community outreach, providing food and clothing, assisting homeless and housing programs, providing services for our seniors, special populations, youth, and after-school programs, and funding PPE and cleaning programs,” Hartke said. “Through the I Choose Chandler program we were able to distribute over four million dollars to Chandler businesses and will continue to award these vital funds throughout 2021.

“We also hosted our first-ever job fair, virtually of course, connecting over 600 job seekers with a variety of Chandler companies. Our economic -evelopment efforts in 2020 are expected to create $437 million in capital improvements and more than 2,500 jobs over the next three years.”

Hartke noted that:

  • City Council remains focused on innovation and technology, infill and redevelopment, mobility, neighborhoods and quality of life.
  • The city updated master plans that will guide investments for parks, facilities, transportation, the airport and technology, with more studies underway to make Chandler more mobile, bike-friendly and connected.
  • City Council formed a Citizen Bond Exploratory Committee to evaluate needs and recommend a bond package to support capital and infrastructure investments. That will come before voters this fall.
  • A historic-preservation ordinance enabled property owners to establish districts on private property and in neighborhoods to protect historically significant parts of the city from redevelopment, preserving the unique character of neighborhoods.

Looking to the coming year, the mayor said that “we will continue to ensure Chandler fosters a contemporary culture that embraces unity, celebrates diversity, boasts inclusivity and is a place of equal rights and opportunity for all.”

He added that the city is working to develop a Community Court Program for homeless people who commit misdemeanors and would benefit from treatment and case management rather than incarceration; focus will continue on the “active-adult community,” a high-quality park system, a multi-generational recreation center and adopting the parks master plan; Amazon’s $20,000 donation will launch a program to address neighborhood preservation needs of seniors, and final phases of the Veterans Memorial at Veterans Oasis Park is planned for completion for Veterans Day.

“Through adapting to the challenges of 2020, Chandler never stopped planning for the future,” the mayor said.

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