Glendale mayoral candidates share plans for city if elected

GLENDALE, AZ - So far, three men have announced their intention to run for mayor of Glendale.

The winner would replace outgoing Mayor Elaine Scruggs, who decided not to seek another term. Scruggs, 68, has been mayor since 1993.

Manny Cruz, 46, wants to focus on bringing additional revenues to the city.

The fourth generation Arizonan points to the pending casino issue as A way to possibly create 6,000 jobs along with an additional fire station, police hub and money for schools and after school programs.

Currently, Cruz is the executive director of the Abandoned Mines Safety Organization, a non profit organization whose goal is to educate people about the dangers of abandoned mines.

Last year, Cruz ran for Arizona Mining Inspector, but lost with 44 percent of the vote.

"I made a promise to voters that I would to continue to be an advocate," he said.

Cruz is a member of the Glendale Neighborhood Commission.

If elected, he said strengthening neighborhoods would be another priority.

"We need to invest in early childhood developments, after school programs and strengthening our libraries," Cruz said.

As for the controversy, whether the city should continue spending monies with the NHL-owned Coyotes, Cruz refrained from weighing in on how the city should move forward, but said he welcomes the 41 games each year.

Cruz is married and has five children. His eldest daughter, 24, just got back from a tour of duty with the Navy.

Walt Opaska, another candidate, doesn't think the city should be spending $25 million to cover the NHL losses.

"It's not right that we're cutting from police and fire while we're giving millions away to the NHL. We need to change our priorities," said Opaska, a patent attorney and former scientist.

"We shouldn't be involved in pro sports teams and attorney fees," he added.

As for the legal battles with the Tohono O'odham Nation and their intentions to build a casino, Opaska said the city needs to sit down and talk with them to work out the issues so the city can be involved in the building process.

He thinks the Tohono O'odham Nation will win future court cases so working together may be a better approach than ignoring them completely.

For Opaska, 36, it's the first time running for public office.

He and his wife have an 8-year-old daughter, Avery. They have lived in Glendale six years.

State Rep. Jerry Weiers (R-Dist. 12) comes to the race with the most political experience.

He has been in the state legislature eight years where he serves as chairman of military affairs and public safety as well as natural resources and the rules committee.

District 12 covers the entire West Valley, including Glendale.

If elected mayor, Weiers said priority number one would be to reduce the $1.1 billion deficit.

He thinks his experience trying to fix the state's budget woes will help him at the city level.

"I have to change the direction of the city and get it out of debt," said Weiers, who added pointing fingers won't make a difference.

Bring more jobs and making the city more business friendly is equally important, he said.

In the past, Weiers feels the city has focused on attracting the large businesses.

"In my business instead of having huge clients, you're much safer having smaller clients," he said.

There has to be a push for bringing small businesses back because Glendale has the infrastructure, he said.

Weiers, like Cruz, didn't want to discuss the particulars of the Glendale controversy over the money being used to keep the Coyotes.

He said he doesn't have access to all information, but added the city can't keep dumping tax payer money into losing propositions.

He quickly followed up and said he wasn't against the Coyotes.

"I would love to continue to see them thrive and do well," he said. "But at what point to do you say enough is enough?"

As for the impending casino issue, Weiers said if it's going to happen, you have to be open and do the very best for the city of Glendale.

In June, Weiers will celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife, Sandy.

They have a 26-year old daughter.

Weiers is a pilot and loves to fly his own plane.

Those interested in running for Glendale mayor have until the May 30 to file paperwork to run.

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