[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Free health care for all Phoenicians. The creation of a Mexican Riviera-type development along the Rio Salado. And a new Phoenix energy board to oversee the city’s sustainability efforts. They are just a few ideas from Plan 468, which the New Vision slate unveiled during a Thursday evening news conference attended by one reporter.
City Council candidates Robert Dennis Johnson (District 4), Nathan Oshop (District 6) and Jon Garrido (District 8), all Democrats, published the six-point strategy online. “Everybody talks about a comprehensive plan. We’ve done it,” said Garrido, who is in a three-way race with incumbent Michael Johnson and Darlene Jackson. The plan calls for:
- Transforming the Rio Salado, or Salt River, into a giant lagoon that would anchor a multi-billion dollar beachfront development called Playa del Sol. It would serve as a world-class destination, attracting 8 million new tourists to its resorts, golf courses, shops, casino, and Phoenix SeaWorld.
- Free health care insurance for all Phoenix residents, paid for using $1 billion in casino revenue from the Playa del Sol project. The only caveat: The proposal relies on Arizona voters to pass an initiative allowing a casino to be built on non-tribal land.
- Refocusing economic-development efforts from downtown to the Indian School Road Corridor by creating jobs in research and development, light manufacturing, and international trade. The city would forge business ties with Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Spain.
- Forming a city energy board charged with reducing the city’s carbon emissions by 30 percent within 10 years, and redeveloping blighted landfills into revenue-generating commercial developments.
- Widening the reach of city community centers so they serve all segments of the population.
- Developing urban mixed-use “nodes” where people can work, shop and play.
Even though the slate is being outspent by incumbent candidates, none have put together a more ambitious and complete plan than New Vision, said Robert Dennis Johnson. “We realize we are outgunned. This is a David vs. Goliath fight,” he said. “But what we have, when you look at this, is substantially more than any of our challengers are offering.” [Note: Read the full blog post at Phoenix’s “New Vision” city council slate unveils Plan 468.]
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix businessman Jon Garrido, 66, announced Thursday that he would challenge Councilman Michael Johnson for the District 8 city council seat. On Sept. 1, Phoenix voters will elect four city council members. Council members Peggy Neely, Tom Simplot, and Sal DiCiccio are also up for reelection.
The centerpiece of Garrido’s campaign is a proposal to redevelop land near the Salt River, which runs south of downtown Phoenix. Garrido wants to put water in the mostly-dry riverbed, similar to the way that Tempe Town Lake was created. Garrido also proposes that Phoenix build a “Mexican Rivera” — a casino, hotel, and shops — near Chase Field. The casino could generate $1.1 billion annually for the city, he estimated. “We need to make downtown Phoenix a destination,” said Garrido, who owns several news Web sites. “The first thing that people say when they leave the convention center is, ‘Where’s Scottsdale?'” he said.
He estimated that it would costs $500 million to build the projects, but says that figure does not include the Salt River improvements. Garrido plans to put an initiative on the November 2010 ballot to pave the way for proposed casino. Now, only Native American tribes have casinos in the Valley.
Garrido is a fifth generation Arizona resident. Earlier in his career, he was a real estate consultant. He’s also held planning and economic development posts in Tuscon, in El Paso, TX, and at the Salt River Maricopa Indian Community.