Category Archives: Newsletters

District 3 newsletter

Vice Mayor John Williams’ Quarterly Newsletter – May 2015

The City has really been moving and shaking this quarter!  It’s hard to believe we are approaching summer already.  With all the activity, I wanted to update you on a few things.

Impact Ed

In my last edition, I briefly mentioned the Educational Opportunities Stakeholders Group now known as Impact Ed.  As the key component to economic development and our State’s future, leaders need collaborate and formulate creative and innovative ways to improve education locally and regionally.  Councilman Jim Biundo and I are diligently working to form this stakeholders group to improve Arizona’s education system.  We have invited other elected officials, business leaders, public safety officials, school administrators and developers to join Impact Ed.

My goal is to meet on a monthly basis and explore ways in which we can retain talented teachers and support vital programs so that our children get the very best education possible.  It is my ultimate goal to form solutions with Impact Ed that can be relayed to our State legislators as they enter the 2016 legislative session.  If you are interested in participating, please feel free to contact me.  I welcome the opportunity to explore our educational concerns and help build a stronger system together!

Voter Engagement

During the 2015 National League of Cities Conference in Washington DC, I attended a dynamic and interactive workshop on community engagement.  This particular workshop provided incredible detail and reaffirmed much of what we are already doing in the City of Surprise; however, there were also some new and innovative strategies discussed.  Keys to engaging citizenry, roadblocks that limit citizen engagement and tips for improvement were shared.

Upon my return from the trip, I met with staff and formed a Community Engagement Work Group that will be led by City Clerk Sherry Aguilar and staff representing each department.  Since the initial meeting, the City has hosted several voter registration events, and the formation of Neighborhood Association Committees (NAC) will be discussed at an upcoming Committee on Community Outreach Partnership & Grants meeting later this month.

Neighborhood associations help identify challenges and concerns, support change and improvement efforts, help resolve conflicts, provide volunteers for community initiatives, represent the neighborhood as a whole to elected officials and find resources to make their respective neighborhoods a better place to live.  In summary, a neighborhood association is a group of neighbors and business owners who voluntarily work together for changes and improvements such as neighborhood safety, beautification and social activities.  They help reinforce rules and regulations through education, peer pressure and simply looking out for each other.

Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee

The Capital Improvement Funding Exploratory Committee met several times this past quarter to review the benefits of funding 11 capital improvement projects through possible General Obligation bonds; welcome public input; identify appropriate communication methods for educating residents and voters; and provide City Council with a written report of their findings this month.  City Council will consider its position relative to a bond ballot initiative in June.

The 17-member committee includes members of the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Community and Recreation Advisory Commission, with two members from the Dysart Unified School District, one Nadaburg School District delegate and a member of the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce to serve as the chair.

Specific projects were included in three categories that were evaluated by City staff.  Widening of portions of Greenway, Litchfield and Happy Valley roads, a new fire station, police property and evidence facility, court accessibility and safety items, a regional multi-generational recreation center, aquatic center, and 8 Acre Park improvements are currently on the list.

Surprise Youth Update

The City of Surprise Teen Summit was held on April 23rd in the City Hall Complex.  The purpose of the summit, now in its 8th year, is to provide a venue where teens can get excited about making positive changes in their community, their schools and in their lives.  160 high school students from Surprise were in attendance including public, charter and homeschooled teens.  The summit coordinated by Marla Babb, Recreation Manager, and staff from the City’s Community and Recreation Services department, included breakout sessions on funding your college education, team building, and safe driving habits.  The keynote speaker for the event was Mona Dixon, former Boys & Girls Club of America Youth of the year, who went from living on the streets and in homeless shelters to graduating college.  She delivered a strong message to take control and make things happen for yourself.

The Surprise Youth Council (SYC) has been busy the past month helping at events and providing feedback on city related plans and initiatives.  Members of the SYC led activities at the Teen Summit and volunteered at the WHAM Recycle Arts & Youth Festival.  City Planning staff presented the City’s Art Master Plan, Heritage District Overly Plan & City’s General Plan to the teens to get their input and educate them about what’s planned for their community.  SYC members are also reviewing the City’s potential Capital Improvement Projects in preparation for providing their feedback at an upcoming City Council meeting.  Maricopa County Library System also presented their teen programs to the SYC in an effort to increase participation and recruit potential volunteers.  The SYC is also looking to partner with the Surprise regional library on a Teen Techs program to help older residents understand and better use all of the features on their phones, computers, tablets and other technology.  The SYC is comprised of twenty-five 6th – 11th grade students representing 14 different middle & high schools in the Surprise area.

Surprise Competitive Sports

Competitive Sports was added to the FY14-15 budget. The inaugural offerings for competitive volleyball and basketball did not come to fruition due to lack of interest; however, competitive soccer registered a total of 8 teams, (4 teams in 10u boys and 4 teams in 12u girls) when the season kicked off in mid-March.  The regular season concluded on Saturday, May 2nd and the single elimination league tournament will start on May 5th.

The initial response from players, coaches, parents, and spectators has been overwhelmingly positive.  We have had several players, coaches and parents express their gratitude to the City for “finally offering a competitive league”.

Upcoming Registration Dates:

Competitive Youth Basketball – Separate boys & girls, 10u, 12u, and 14u competitive youth basketball divisions will be offered.  Registration begins July 6th.  Games begin on August 17th.

Competitive Youth Volleyball – Girls 10u, 12u, and 14u divisions will be offered.  Registration begins July 6th. Games will begin on August 17th.

Competitive Girls Fastpitch Softball – Girls 10u, 12u, and 14u divisions will be offered.  Registration begins August 17th. Games will begin on September 21st.

Competitive Baseball – 10u, 11u, and 12u divisions will be offered.  Registration begins August 17th. Games will begin on September 21st.

Competitive Youth Soccer – Separate boys & girls 10u, 12u, and 14u competitive youth soccer divisions will be offered.  Registration begins September 8th.  Games will begin on November 2nd.


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 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

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

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

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.

John Williams being sworn in as Vice Mayor

The Surprise City Council appointed District 3 Councilmember John Williams as Vice Mayor at their regular meeting Tuesday night.

Williams has served District 3 since 2008 and previously served as Vice Mayor in 2012. As a teacher, parent and husband, John brings a community perspective to his commitment to serve as a voice for all residents.

John is a certified teacher and for the last several years has been building the Peoria Unified School District’s Career and Technical Education Sports Medicine program.

A graduate of Hofstra University in New York, John also holds a Masters in Health Science from Towson University in Maryland.

John and Melissa have three children, Connor, Ashlyn, and Matthew.

Per city code, City Council must select a new Vice Mayor to serve on an annual basis no later than January 30, and the Vice Mayor acts for the Mayor in the event of absence.

Councilman John Williams’ Quarterly Newsletter – Sept. 2014

What’s Happening at City Hall?

New Leadership Team
As many of you have observed, since City Manager Chris Hillman left us for Irving, Texas, there have been a number of administrative changes. We have a new City Manager, Bob Wingenroth, who brings a positive servant leadership approach to our community. I am very excited to have Bob on board, and I have the utmost confidence that he has the expertise, professional tact, compassion for others, perseverance and tenacity to be a great leader for our City.

City Manager Bob Wingenroth
City Manager Bob Wingenroth
Assistant City Manager Rick Buss
Assistant City Manager Rick Buss
Assistant City Manger April Reynolds
Assistant City Manger April Reynolds









Mr. Wingenroth has chosen April Reynolds and Rick Buss as his Assistant City Managers. Rick Buss is a long-time public servant who brings years of expertise in the area of economic and community development. Formerly, he served as the Town Manager for Gila Bend where he led groundbreaking efforts in sustainable energy and economic development. Mr. Buss is responsible for the Public Works, Economic Development and Community Development Departments.

April Reynolds was promoted to Assistant City Manager after years of serving as our Human Resources Director. Mrs. Reynolds, a four year veteran of the US Air Force, has been employed with our City for 10 years. She is responsible for the Human Resources, Communications and IT Departments.

Youth Services Administrator
I am very excited to announce the hiring of Paul Bernardo in the capacity of Youth Services Administrator. Paul’s resume is very impressive and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge, experience and credentials from previous positions he held with two other municipalities, the Boys and Girls Club of America and the YMCA.

Paul Bernardo
Paul Bernardo

The Youth Services Administrator is a new position within the City that supports and promotes civic engagement for all ages. There are times when we, as a community, are not fully engaged or invested. There are many factors for the apathy that exist, some of which are related to our very busy lives, long commutes and slow-to-recover economy that have forced other issues in our daily lives to take precedence. That said, our duties as citizens are to ensure our leadership is held accountable and to do that, we must activate our civil liberties. To regain this passion and demonstrate the importance of civic engagement, the Youth Services Administrator will be responsible for promoting youth engagement, initiating projects to build a stronger community and utilizing talent and resources to erase the barriers that exist whether age, socioeconomic, or otherwise. I’m excited to have Paul on board, and I’m confident that he will bring passion to the job and model the behaviors reflective of a civic leader in our community.

Youth Master Plan
Over the past several months, I’ve met with a number of school principals and education leaders. The purpose of these meetings is to continue to build relationships with all educational institutions, analyze what we are doing well, and then plan for the future as part of the construction of a Youth Master Plan. The Youth Master Plan will define what we need to plan for to meet the needs of growing families in Surprise. We all know that youth are grossly underserved, and as we climb out of the economic meltdown, we must prioritize and make critical program and development decisions so that we are truly meeting the needs of Surprise youth and families. The Master Plan will be constructed by Surprise youth, so if you have a son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild, friend, or neighbor who might want to contribute, send them my way!

Youth Civic Leaders Program
The Surprise Youth Civic Leaders Program (YCLP) is designed to improve the level of activity and engagement among youth and all residents within the City of Surprise. The YCLP is not a formal commission; therefore, it has no limitations on participation. Selection into the program is based on specific criteria outlined in detail on the YCLP application and the completion of a panel interview with members of the Surprise City Council. The program is open to all Surprise high school students. To download the application, please visit

Education Update

Dysart Unified School District
I am pleased to say that Dysart Unified School District has been representing our City very well over the last year with a variety of awards and accolades. Most recently, the Washington, D.C. Center for America Progress identified Dysart as one of the top districts in Arizona with high achievement despite a low-cost operations budget. The 2014 Return on Educational Investment report compared the District’s operational budget to state test results in math and reading, school enrollment, special education student stats, student poverty numbers and federal cost-of-living information. Additionally, Dysart Unified School District received a 2014 Accountability Profile label of “A” from the Arizona Department of Education.

Shadow Ridge High School
The Shadow Ridge High School Signature Architecture Program is, for the second time, SkillsUSA National Champions for Architectural Drafting. The SRHS Signature Architecture Program is now the top-rated high school architectural drafting program in the nation.

In addition to the aforementioned award, Shadow Ridge High School was also named a 2014 Best High School and earned a bronze medal from U.S. News and World Report. This year’s accomplishments include Signature Architecture Program student Reed Freeman being awarded the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Rensselaer Medalist Scholarship, Daniel Cox becoming the school’s first athlete (wrestling) to win a state championship and the boys varsity basketball team advancing to the state playoffs.

Valley Vista High School
Valley Vista High School was also recently named a 2014 Best High School and earned a bronze medal from U.S. News and World Report, a recognized publisher of education news and information.

Sunset Hills Elementary School
Karen Winterstein, Principal of Sunset Hills Elementary School, has earned the prestigious title of 2014 Principal of the Year by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Imagine Prep & Arizona Charter Academy
Students from Imagine Prep and Arizona Charter Academy participated in the Capitol Scholars Program over the last few months. I sponsored the awards ceremony for the schools to acknowledge the students who participated and the teachers who guided them. The Capitol Scholars Program was developed a few years ago by Representative Rick Gray. City Hall hosted the program workshops, which began in April. The workshops included discussions on writing, research, transforming bills into ideas, debating and public speaking, and more. The students will travel to the State Capitol on September 26th to present the bills they created and to participate in a mock legislative session.

Image Prep Students
Students participating in the Capitol Scholars Program

The Capitol Scholars Program Awards Ceremony was held in the Mayor’s Atrium on Friday, September 5th. I am so proud of the students who participated. The hard work and creativity of the participants is exceptional!

CM Williams 1
Addressing the reception attendees.
CM Williams 2
Me and Rep. Rick Gray at the reception.

Transportation Update

Waddell & 175th Interchange
Residents, school parents and others have raised the issue of the traffic flowing east and west on Waddell Road between Cotton Lane and Verde Vista, especially during the AM and PM traffic volume peaks. The most common question is why westbound traffic is prevented from turning left onto 175th Avenue. This concern is valid and it clearly impacts traffic negatively in this area.

I recently met with City staff to champion improvements in this area. Our Public Works Department is now in the process of conducting a traffic study, including the redesign of the median and westbound lanes, to allow vehicles to safely turn left onto 175th Avenue. While we are still identifying a construction timeline, the City is targeting winter break as an ideal time to make the improvements since the two nearby schools are not in session at that time. Please do not hesitate to contact me or Mike Gent, Interim Public Works Director, at

Bell & Grand Avenue Interchange
Big changes are coming to the City’s busiest intersection as ADOT prepares for improvements at Bell Road and Grand Avenue. Plans will allow ADOT to construct a new Bell Road bridge to travel over both Grand Avenue and the adjacent Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad tracks. The bridge will eliminate the existing intersection where Bell Road is currently located. This option minimizes impact to area businesses. Construction is set to begin in late 2015.

Grand Avenue will connect to the new Bell Road bridge via on and off ramps traveling to and from Grand Avenue’s center median area. This particular option was supported by City Council as well as the majority of residents in a city-wide survey. For more information, you can visit or email

HOA Information

If you would like me or any of the City staff to attend your meetings, please let me know. We would appreciate the opportunity to be present and available. You can email me with your request or call me via my contact information below.

Mark Your Calendar!

District 3 Meetings
I am looking for a number of Surprise residents, both young and experienced, that will be willing to meet monthly to provide insight into the growing needs of our City and our District. The only requirements are that you live in, work in, or operate a business in District 3. If you are interested, please email as soon as possible. The first meeting is scheduled for September 18 at 5 p.m. at City Hall. This meeting will be a free-flowing discussion on issues important to those members, as well as an opportunity for me to review some major decisions coming up and gather community feedback. Please RSVP to me, prior to September 15, at

Surprise Fiesta Grande
Mark your calendar so you can attend the Surprise Fiesta Grande on October 4th from noon until 9 p.m. The Surprise Fiesta Grande will be a street-style festival along Grand Avenue and Hollyhock Street. Admission will be free! There will be live music, dancing, a classic car show, a kid zone with piñatas and interactive games, authentic Mexican food, festive beverages, chalk art, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, an adult softball tournament and much more. We hope to see you there!
Surprose Fiesta Grande
Check Your Email Account
My new City Council website will be ready beginning in October. Please be sure to check it for valuable information affecting District 3 and the City. Additionally, we will be sending updates via email providing you sign up for my newsletter through Notify Me. Please click here to sign-up. I am honored to represent District 3 and I’m always looking for ways to keep you informed!

Please note that I will be sending my newsletters quarterly. Thank you!

Did You Know?

Facts and Figures of Surprise AZ



Surprise, Open For Business

As Surprise has grown in population, it has grown in offerings. We have ballpark that attracts spring training visitors from all over and one of the largest public tennis facilities in the country. We have attracted great restaurants and shopping, and now, we are seeing more big businesses making Surprise their home. It’s an exciting time for the city!

In the last couple of years, we have seen business that have located here, grow! Southwest Products, an industrial diesel engine company, finished construction of 165,000 square feet of headquarters and manufacturing facilities in 2013. They have grown their number of employees 50% since then!

And new businesses are moving in. Cobalt Medical Development is constructing a 50,000 square foot advanced rehabilitation facility that is expected to create 125 jobs. Cobalt’s CEO Richard Fiske said, “As we looked nationally for a location, Surprise stood out due its collaborative approach to business development.”

Surprise also supports early-stage technology-based companies. The city’s AZ TechCelerator is designed to help these types of companies reach the next stage in their business plan businesses by providing affordable space and the tools and resources needed to help businesses grow.AZ TechCelerator, a four-building campus, totaling nearly 60,000 square feet is designed to accommodate your needs and provide you with the affordable space, tools and resources to grow your business.

If you would like to find out more about the city’s economic development incentives, click here. And if you are interested in learning more about AZ TechCelerator, click here.AZ TechCelerator, a four-building campus, totaling nearly 60,000 square feet is designed to accommodate your needs and provide you with the affordable space, tools and resources to grow your business.