THE SECRETS THAT RON DRAKE (ARLINGTON HEIGHTS CANDIDATE FOR VILLAGE PRESIDENT) DOESN’T WANT ARLINGTON HEIGHTS VOTERS TO KNOW ABOUT AVONDALE, PHOENIX, AZ
Ron Drake presents himself as the former successful mayor of Avondale, Arizona who served from 2000-2006. He marks his success by bragging that Avondale experienced unprecedented growth. His campaign web site explains that Money Magazine ranked Avondale 3rd in the U.S. for job growth from 2000-2005. Avondale built a City Hall, a police administration building, a courthouse, fire station, a regional library, and a 55-acre regional park. The City of Avondale also upgraded five city parks and made many improvements to streets and infrastructure.
Many readers might absorb these stats and believe this was Ron Drake’s miraculous work to bring in business, jobs and people to his city. Certainly that is what he would like the voters of Arlington Heights to believe. A little further digging into the whole truth brings a different understanding.
Avondale, Arizona is part of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, which is also known as the Valley of the Sun. Long before Ron Drake was mayor of Avondale, the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, including Avondale was already experiencing spectacular growth. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area increased by 45.3 percent from 1990 through 2000. That’s compared to the United States average of 15 percent. In the 1990s, Arizona was the second fastest growing state in the United States of America. The 2000 Census reported the population of the metropolitan area of Phoenix was 3,251,876. The 2010 Census reported population of the metropolitan area of Phoenix was 4,192,887.
The next decade, which included the tenure of Mayor Ron Drake, the entire area was booming. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area grew by 941,011 people from April 2000 to April 2010. Only part of that growth was the City of Avondale — from about 35,883 to 76,238. As of 2010, the population of the Valley of the Sun, including Phoenix and Avondale makes up more than two-thirds of Arizona’s population.
That explains political trick number one — the deception of magnitude. If the reader doesn’t know that the entire Phoenix area expanded, it appears there was something special about Avondale — that Ron Drake was the cause of the influx of business, jobs and people into Avondale. That’s a misperception.
Political trick number two is unfair comparison. Ron Drake is comparing his PRE-global financial crisis tenure as mayor to his opponent’s POST-global financial crisis tenure. Like Avondale, Arlington Heights appeared to be doing very well in 2000, even without riding the coat tails of a larger metropolitan area’s expansion. Arlington Town Square was built in Arlington Heights at Sigwalt Street and Evergreen Avenue, and was the last Chicago area high-rise built in the 20th Century. Luxury condominiums inside the 14-story high rise included gourmet kitchens with many small shops and a brand new Arlington Theater just around the corner to Arlington Town Square. This followed the construction in the late 1990’s of a brand new Metra train station with handicap access, and coincided with upgrades to the downtown area. There were high hopes for downtown Arlington Heights as the restaurant business grew.
However, both communities have been affected by a decline with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The housing crisis loomed for both communities — foreclosures up, and construction down.
The Phoenix Metropolitan area, including Avondale, has experienced an especially difficult time. For the first quarter of 2011, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area had 36,422 foreclosure filings. Compare that to 21,192 foreclosure filings in the Detroit-Warren-Livonia area.
The Phoenix area, including Avondale, Arizona ranks #4 among 20 metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates. The Las Vegas area ranks #1, followed by Modesto, California, and Stockton, California.
The State of Arizona ranks #2 in foreclosure filings; Illinois ranks #10 (All foreclosure stats provided by RealtyTrac).
Now the City of Avondale is faced with aggressive management of foreclosed homes. Banks in Avondale, Arizona are struggling with a large number of foreclosed properties they hold. The City of Avondale City Council allocated $35,000 to address weed abatement in neighborhoods. Between July 2008 and March 2009, a total of 345 foreclosed properties have been cleared of weeds as a result of city intervention – half of which were handled by the property owners, the other half through city abatement. During late 2008 to early 2009, Avondale received $2.4 million to redevelop foreclosed properties — the funds designated to attract homeowners into vacant properties. Residents in Avondale are advocating strict laws and stiff fines to penalize absent owners. Banks are often the entities that are held responsible for abandoned properties, and associated vandalism and graffiti. The City of Avondale attempts to remove graffiti within 48 hours from the time the graffiti is reported.
Former Mayor Ron Drake left Avondale, Arizona and returned to Arlington Heights in 2007.
In politics and getting votes, its all about perception.
See also …
West Valley View Guest Commentary by Marie Lopez Rogers Avondale takes proactive approach to foreclosures