Meet the candidates of the 2020 Tempe mayoral election

ASU alumni compete for office in the 2020 Tempe mayoral election

The city of Tempe sent its residents ballots for the 2020 Tempe mayoral election on Feb. 12. On the ballot, are incumbent Mark Mitchell and former Vice Mayor Corey Woods.

General election day is March 10. Ballots can be mailed until March 4 or turned in to Tempe City Hall or the ballot replacement center by general election day. 

The elected candidate will begin their four-year term in July 2020. 

Mayor Mark Mitchell

Mitchell is a Tempe native finishing his second term as mayor. Mitchell graduated from ASU with a degree in political science before serving three four-year terms on the city council. In 2012, Mitchell was elected mayor of Tempe. This year, he hopes to be reelected for a third term in office.

Tempe mayor Mark Mitchell discusses projects and improvements ASU and the City of Tempe have worked on and will continue to grow on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017.

Quality of life is the core of Mitchell's campaign

The incumbent wants to make sure the city is attracting well-paying jobs for students at ASU and all Tempe residents.

"Creating those jobs for students when they graduate is important," Mitchell said. "We want to give them the opportunity to find work." 

Additionally, investing in parks, roads, streets and traffic is important to his plan in evolving the city of Tempe. 

"It's important as we continue to grow that we have the resources that these jobs will produce to help engage in the quality of life for our residents," Mitchell said.

Planning for smart growth means improving traffic

During his candidacy, Mitchell has worked toward smooth flowing traffic and making the streets safe for drivers and pedestrians. He has added orbit routes south of the city to ease traffic and began the streetcar project, a new extension of the Valley Metro service expected to begin serving riders in 2021. 

"We're looking for new ways to move people in and around our city," Mitchell said. "My goal is to work regionally with transportation regarding the streetcar to connect with the city of Mesa to be a truly regional transportation network. Tempe is a multimodal community."

Improving upon his accomplishments as mayor

Mitchell said he has spent his time in office working to keep Tempe an inclusive city. 

Under his candidacy, Tempe became one of the first cities in Arizona to pass Equal Pay ordinances guaranteeing equal pay regardless of gender, and the first city to pass an Anti-Discrimination ordinance, according to his website.

"When we say 'a Tempe for everybody,' we make sure that we are a city for everyone," Mitchell said. "We are not a community that discriminates based on race, age, the color of their skin, sexual orientation or religion."

Mitchell said one of the most important things he's learned as mayor is listening to the community.

"What I've learned from past elections is continue to listen, but make sure residents feel engaged and involved," Mitchell said. "That means everyone has a seat at the table, including Arizona State University students."

Corey Woods

After serving as Tempe's vice mayor and spending two terms on the city council, Woods' next goal is to serve the community as its mayor. 

The mayoral candidate graduated from ASU with a master's degree in educational policy and is currently chief of staff at ASU Preparatory Academy. If elected, he would be Tempe's first African American mayor. 

Corey Woods poses for a photo at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018.

Post-secondary education for Tempe students

The City of Tempe is aiming for 65% of its students to pursue post-secondary education by 2030, in a program called the Achieve65 plan. 

In 2017, Woods was a part of an ASU division that was working alongside Tempe to set the goal of surpassing the statewide initiative of 60%.

If elected mayor, Woods said he would make an emphasis to continue supporting this program. 

"What we have to do is support our local school districts," Woods said. "It's up to us to support our superintendents, to support our local governing boards, to really partner and collaborate with them to find out what it is that they need to be successful." 

Human services to help the homeless population in Tempe

Rather than talk about spending money, Woods said he wants to actually invest in programs that have proven outcomes.

His campaign aims to expand the Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program throughout the city and continue the Housing First program, which worked to get people out of unstable situations and provide them with housing. 

"We found that was the best way to truly break the cycle of poverty," Woods said. “We were able to house 35 individuals who had been chronically homeless.”

Addressing traffic and construction

Woods said he will work immediately to resolve Tempe's growing traffic problem if elected mayor.

"I'm not seeing the streets flowing easily," Woods said. "I hear people routinely, along with myself, complaining about constant gridlock and detours and construction."

According to his campaign website, Woods would "set an immediate and strict deadline for himself and the Council to produce an actionable plan that will set Tempe back on a path of responsible development that does not flood our neighborhoods with cars."

Affordable housing for a diverse population

Woods also said he would like to reduce the cost of living for Tempe residents. 

"Recent college graduates coming out of ASU and coming out of a community college system ... the way that rents are skyrocketing, there's no way that those people could live here," Woods said. 

To combat the hardships many face when struggling to afford housing, Woods' website says that he plans to "identify strategies to retain existing affordable housing and prevent displacement of residents."

His website also says he would work to develop and invest in more affordable housing to "retain the diversity that makes Tempe so unique." 

Overall, Woods would like to create a unified vision for mayor and city council, for city staff and for residents to collectively envision the direction in which Tempe is headed. 

"My goal would be that you really could give what amounts to a 20 to 30-second elevator speech to someone as a Tempe resident, and they can say 'I know exactly where the city is attempting to take us, and I support the city's direction,'" Woods said. 

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