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Tempe mayoral and city council candidates gathered in the Memorial Union Monday to debate how to create incentives for ASU students to remain in Tempe after graduation.

Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate and Professional Student Association moderated the debates and allowed members of the audience to participate by asking the candidates questions.

The three mayoral candidates and the five city council candidates agreed that bringing jobs to Tempe is one of the most important goals of their campaigns.

Candidates were asked by an audience member, “How would you make Tempe more attractive in terms of jobs, quality of life and community to students who would otherwise leave after graduation?”

Mayoral candidate and business owner Michael Monti said neighborhoods must be improved.

“A lot of it’s going to be about schools and quality of life so that people will want to stay here,” Monti said.

Mayoral candidate Linda Spears said it is important to ask what graduates want in a neighborhood.

“It is critical that the city be a partner with ASU in determining what kind of development comes in,” Spears said.

City council candidate Corey Woods said when a student graduates from college, there has to be a job waiting for him or her.

“We clearly have to focus on doing whatever we can to recruit long-term, high-wage jobs,” Woods said. “Once you graduate from college there has to be a job for you to go into. Otherwise, you’re going to go somewhere else to find it.”

Woods also said many students graduating from ASU are “environmentally friendly” and a “continued push” for more mass transit would help alumni remain in Tempe.

City council candidate Dick Foreman agreed with Woods, and said adding more sustainable mass transit systems would be beneficial to residents.

“When you look at the things we can do to make this an incredibly diverse and exciting urban lifestyle, that’s where you’re going to attract students to stay,” Foreman said.

City council candidate Kolby Granville said jobs and lower crime rates are most important to keeping graduates in Tempe.

Tempe city council incumbent Joel Navarro said it is important to offer a variety of creative jobs in Tempe and to help residents feel like a part of a community they can be proud of.

“We do a whole variety of things to our cities to make the attractiveness to bring back people,” Navarro said. “That starts with what our streets look like.”

Current city council member and mayoral candidate Mark Mitchell said there are many reasons graduates would choose to remain in Tempe.

“We celebrate our diversity, we create jobs, we support our schools and we cherish our neighborhoods,” Mitchell said.

City council candidate and small business owner Angie Taylor Thornton said it is most important to attract businesses to Tempe in order to provide jobs.

“How can we make it easier for small businesses to come into Tempe?” Thornton asked. “How can we make it more efficient down at City Hall?”


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