Vice Mayor John Williams’ Quarterly Newsletter – Feb 2015

Happy New Year to District 3!   At the first regular City Council meeting of the year, I was honored to be appointed as the City’s Vice Mayor.  I look forward to serving Surprise as Vice Mayor and as your Councilman.  This year, 2015, brings with it many challenges, and many opportunities.  My efforts for all projects, initiatives, and issues will be to continue to serve the residents of District 3 and make decisions that serve the greater good for all of our community.

Surprise Youth Council
For the past 8 years I’ve worked on several youth initiatives and projects, attempting each time to engage our youth, battling apathy and encouraging civic engagement.  This year, with the emergence of our Youth Administrator and the adoption of the Surprise Youth Council (SYC), we have taken all these projects and initiatives and built a solid, sustainable youth leadership group.  The SYC is designed to improve the level of activity and engagement among youth and all Surprise residents with the City of Surprise. The group will be advisory to the City Council on issues, initiatives, projects and program implementation citywide.  They will have an opportunity to write their own path for our city, developing projects and programs, and implementing policy and procedures that impact the city as a whole.

The purpose of the city developing, implementing, and enthusiastically supporting the SYC is to provide real-life opportunities for our future leaders to learn, grow, and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be a civic leader.  SYC is comprised of 25 students representing five of our local high schools and nine of our local middle schools.  Student members were selected through an application and nomination process that included the submission of their own personal introductory video.  The videos were 1-2 minute PSAs on why they wanted to be part of the SYC.  It gave the students an opportunity to demonstrate, in a creative and innovative way, their knowledge of the city, their passion for serving as a voice for all of Surprise youth, and their purposeful commitment to serve the city.

For this group, it is a rare opportunity to build something from the ground up and make a difference in their community.  SYC leadership positions will be modeled after City Council, with a youth mayor, vice mayor and committee chairs.  Officers will take turns holding a non-voting seat at the Dias during City Council meetings.

This diverse group will be challenged by extensive training in how to work together and be leaders in their community.  They will work side by side with adult leaders including our Mayor and City Council.  The SYC will identify issues important to them and implement their ideas to solve problems and make a difference.  This will be done through a variety of events, community service projects and a broad social media and communications/marketing plan.

Due to the timing of the program, this group will serve through next school year.  We will begin the recruitment process for any vacancies around March 2016.

Surprise Youth Council

SYC with Vice Mayor and Council

Community Workshops
The City began the New Year hosting community meetings at various locations in hopes to receive public input for updating key elements of our existing General Plan 2035.  General Plan 2035 is a blueprint for the City’s future growth and development and it provides a means of providing long-range perspective and framework for more specific planning.  It addresses land use, economic development, housing, recreation and open spaces and much more.

Surprise witnessed a 281% increase in population growth from 2000 to 2010.  MAG estimates that our City will see another increase of approximately 30,000 between now and 2020.  The General Plan will help us plan for that growth accordingly.  The data we received from MAG also states that 91.3% of our residents travel outside of Surprise to work.  The City Council and City staff are working diligently to increase our economic development to create more employment here.  As of now, most employment in the City are in the fields of educational services, health care and social assistance.  A large percentage of our residents work in the fields of office management, office support, administrative support and sales.

Growing Surprise
As part of the City Manager’s commitment to increase economic development, he hired Jeanine Jerkovic in December as the new Director to our Economic Development Department.  Jeanine brings incredible experience from working as an Economic Development Administrator for the City of Glendale and the City of Peoria.  She is a fantastic addition to our leadership team.  Jeanine is also a resident of Surprise.

Upcoming Events

Looking back on 2014, there were so many accomplishments that were the result of hard-working City of Surprise staff and our dedicated City Council.

February will serve as the kick-off to baseball in Surprise.  You will find collegiate baseball’s finest at Surprise Stadium for the Spring Training Baseball Classic beginning February 13-February 16 as teams from Oregon State, Northwestern University, Michigan State and the University of New Mexico will be competing.  The BIG 12-PAC 12 Spring Training Baseball Challenge will be February 19-February 22 hosting Oregon State, Oklahoma State, Utah, Kansas, Kansas State and Washington State.

Join Mayor Wolcott and the Surprise City Council Monday, February 23, at the 13th Annual Mayor’s Welcome Back Luncheon where guests will have an exclusive opportunity to hear about the upcoming Season directly from Team Staff and members of both organizations.  Tickets for this event are now available for purchase at the Surprise Community and Recreation Services Office located at 15960 N. Bullard Avenue, Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 pm.

The Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals are headed back to Surprise for the 2015 Spring Training season! The season will begin Wednesday, March 4 with the 13th Annual Surprise Sundancer Charity Game featuring the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. The Surprise Stadium will continue to celebrate the American League Champions as they prepare and work their way back into the 2015 MLB Post-Season throughout a series of promotional events;  Saturday, March 7th- Kansas City Royals American League Championship Day Celebration; Sundays-Military Appreciation Day and Mondays-Senior Day at the Ballpark.

Be a part of the 2015 Spring Sports Festival and purchase your tickets at the Surprise Stadium Box Office – now open Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m., Saturdays 10:00 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m-2 p.m. For more information regarding events and ticket promotions please visit www.surprisespringtraining.com or contact the box office at 623-222-2222.

Competitive Youth Sports:  Hoops, Soccer & Swim!!
The City of Surprise Community and Recreation Services Department is accepting team registrations for the inaugural Competitive Basketball League and Competitive Soccer League!  Boys or girls teams may register in the 10U, 12U or 14U division for a fee of $1,200.00. All three divisions will follow National Federation of High Schools rules and will play a 10-game regular season, followed by a single elimination league tournament. Games will begin in early March and the league tournament will conclude by April 25, 2015.

For more information on any of these competitive leagues, please contact Paul Frie at 623-222-2240 or paul.frie@surpriseaz.gov.

If your children are interested in the water, the Surprise Storm is now the competitive club swim team here in Surprise.  There is room for all competitive swimmers with three separate levels that divide the various ages and skill sets of the athletes.  Swimmers compete state wide, with upcoming events at Glendale Community College and Phoenix Country Day School.  For more information on Surprise swim, contact Head Coach Tim Manley at tim.manley@surpriseaz.gov.

Educational Opportunities Stakeholders Group
This year, I will be forming and leading discussions on ways to support and improve educational opportunities in Surprise.  Working in tandem with Councilmember Jim Biundo, and our local education leaders, this stakeholders group is looking to improve education in our community, striving for Educational Excellence in Surprise.

Why is education a critical issue for a municipality?  As we continue to grow into the future, the economic viability of our community is critically linked to the educational opportunities we provide to our residents.  When businesses, small and large, look to lay their roots in Surprise education is a high-priority.

Safe communities are communities with high-performing educational institutions.  Education is the great equalizer when it comes to affording opportunities to youth that will keep them on a clear path for success.  When this path is obstructed, altered, or derailed, the result may be a path that leads to trouble for our youth.  This will undoubtedly lead to an increase in preventable crime, and diminish the amenities we enjoy in this clean, safe and secure community.

The Surprise Educational Opportunities Stakeholders group will come together to formulate creative and innovative ways to improve educational opportunities at the local and regional levels. This is an opportunity to have a positive impact on providing and improving educational opportunities from Pre-K through Higher Education.

We are looking for parents, business owners, teachers, students, and other community members that are vested in the success of our local schools to participate in this conversation.  If you have any interest please contact me via email at john.williams@surpriseaz.gov.

Get Engaged, Be Active in Surprise
Being active in the community you reside in is such a critical component to a successful neighborhood and City.  The City has several opportunities for you to participate.  Some of our Boards & Commissions currently have openings including the Health Benefits Trust Fund Board and the Building & Construction Review Board.  Please feel free to contact the City Clerk, Sherry Aguilar at 623-222-1000 for more information.

Celebrity Flag Football Challenge

Super Bowl weekend brought excitement to Surprise with the Celebrity Flag Football Challenge taking over the field at Surprise Stadium. Vice Mayor Williams enjoyed the game and the opportunity to spread the word about Surprise! The game benefited the Wounded Warrior project.