Log in

elections 2024

Seven vie for three Chandler Council spots

Posted 4/5/24

Here is biographical information on the seven candidates who’ll be on the Chandler City Council ballot July 30.

Independent Newsmedia will publish responses to brief …

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already have an account? Log in to continue.

Current print subscribers can create a free account by clicking here

Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

To Our Valued Readers –

Visitors to our website will be limited to five stories per month unless they opt to subscribe. The five stories do not include our exclusive content written by our journalists.

For $6.99, less than 20 cents a day, digital subscribers will receive unlimited access to YourValley.net, including exclusive content from our newsroom and access to our Daily Independent e-edition.

Our commitment to balanced, fair reporting and local coverage provides insight and perspective not found anywhere else.

Your financial commitment will help to preserve the kind of honest journalism produced by our reporters and editors. We trust you agree that independent journalism is an essential component of our democracy. Please click here to subscribe.

Charlene Bisson, Publisher, Independent Newsmedia

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor
elections 2024

Seven vie for three Chandler Council spots

File photo

Here is biographical information on the seven candidates who’ll be on the Chandler City Council ballot July 30.

Independent Newsmedia will publish responses to brief questionnaires about Chandler issues and problems within the next several weeks.

They’re listed alphabetically by last name.

Christine Ellis

Chrsitine Ellis
Chrsitine Ellis

​Christine Ellis has lived in Chandler since 1987. She was born and raised in Haiti and moved to the United States in 1982 at age 17.

Ellis has been married to her husband, Benjamin, for 36 years.

With a bachelors of science in Nursing from Grand Canyon University, Ellis has been a nurse all of her adult life. She has worked as an RN for many large hospitals and care facilities while holding many high-level positions, such as director of nursing.

Ellis has also taught various medical fields and certified nursing classes in Arizona community colleges.

She also has owned several assisted living homes in the East Valley.

Since being elected to the Chandler City Council in 2020, Ellis has served on local and regional committees, including the Council subcommittees for Mobility and Quality of Life, vice chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments Domestic Violence Council and the National League of Cities Women in Municipal Government and National Black Caucus.

Ellis also serves as an advisory board member for the Haitian American Center for Social Economic Development and is a committee member of Chandler’s For Our City.

O.D. Harris

O.D. Harris
O.D. Harris

O.D. Harris’ father was a U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran, an American Factory worker, and an entrepreneur who died when O.D was 14. His mother was a stay-at-home mom.

Harris enlisted in the U.S. Army while graduating from college with an accounting degree. He opened a tax and accounting business and eventually scaled his business to 35 locations in seven states.

Harris organized and rallied hundreds of Michiganders in 2012 for a state capitol rally focused on equity.

Once in Arizona, Harris served on the City of Chandler Airport Commission, as the NAACP Chairman of Economic and Entrepreneur Development of Maricopa County, with the National Black MBA-Phoenix, Chicago and Los Angeles with the Advisory Board of the Clean Home Project, 100 Black Men of Phoenix and the Black Philanthropy Initiative under the Arizona Community Foundation.

Since being elected to the Chandler City Council in 2020, Harris has served on various boards and commissions, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and some transportation-related boards.

Harris was chosen by the Council in January to serve as vice mayor for 2024.

Jennifer Hawkins

Jennifer Hawkins
Jennifer Hawkins

Jennifer Hawkins has lived in Chandler for almost 20 years.

A wife and a mother of two girls, Hawkins and her husband have owned an automotive repair business in the East Valley for more than 14 years.

Hawkins has a decade of experience as a regional buyer in construction and as an analyst working in healthcare information technology.

Hawkins has not run for a publicly elected office but she has held a board position with her legislative district.

Hawkins is the current Teen Queen state director for Miss Rodeo Arizona, Inc. She said that’s an organization is dedicated to supporting young women who serve their community while emphasizing Arizona’s traditional western way of life.

Hawkins has volunteered for St. Mary’s Food Bank, founding an annual toy drive benefiting Phoenix Children’s and Banner Hospitals.

Ajlan “AJ” Kurdoglu

Ajlan “AJ” Kurdoglu
Ajlan “AJ” Kurdoglu

Ajlan “AJ” Kurdoglu, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, moved to the Valley years ago to attend Arizona Stat University’s Thunderbird School of International Management. He says he stayed in the state after getting his MBA becacause of the nature, the culture, the people, and even the dry heat.

Kurdoglu is the owner of Home Mart, a decor-focused furniture store in the Chandler Fashion Center mall.

He says a vibrant economy and a dynamic workforce are essential to the future of Chandler.

Kurdoglu says he would be the first Turkish-born American on any city council in Arizona, if elected.

He said access to a great education, to safe and affordable housing throughout our city, and to thriving communities — to have a chance to realize American dreams — are his priorities.

Kurdoglu lost to J.D. Mesnard in the 2020 Arizona Legislature District 17 Senate race and also ran for the Democratic nomination for a 2022 District 12 state House seat.

Cicely Rocha-Miller

Cicely Rocha-Miller
Cicely Rocha-Miller

Cicely Rocha-Miller is an Arizona State University alumna who has lived in Chandler since 2012.

She founded Life Design Events, an event-planning firm, in 2005 and is still its lead designer and creative and logistics director.

She said in her business, she has overseen fiscally conservative event production budgets. Her team of event designers lists about seven people.

Rocha-Miller has been married to her husband, Joe Miller, for 18 years, and has two children.

She’s also the former director of volunteer services for Save the Family, a nonprofit that helps families with children.

Rocha-Miller said she’s received awards and accolades from Chandler-Gilbert Community College, the Save the Family Foundation, NACE, Best of Phoenix, Arizona Foothills and One Community.

She has served two terms on her  neighborhood’s homeowners assocaition board.

Rocha-Miller said she first got involved in community and civic activism because her family’s Downtown Chandler neighborhood was impacted by a rapid pace of redevelopment.

Michael J. Simon

Michael J. Simon
Michael J. Simon

Michael J. Simon enlisted, as a teenager, in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1992. 

He holds a degree from Henley-Putnam University, specializing in Strategic Security.

As a Chandler resident since 2012,  Simon has volunteered and became a member of American Legion Post 91, even before he moved with his family to the city.

After finishing his final tour with the Marine Corps at Twentynine Palms, Calif., with the Marine Infantry, the entire family picked up and found a home in Arizona because of the schools, community, people, and future plans.

Simon became involved in small business as an owner, trainer, and consultant in the East Valley, which he continues today with his business partner. He also created an immediate tie with the church community.

Simon is a leader with the American Legion at both at the local and state levels.

Simon is the vice chair City of Chandler Military and Veterans Affairs Commission and is a founding member of that board. 

Joseph Yang

Joseph Yang
Joseph Yang

Joseph Yang is a self-described small business owner, entrepreneur, and pickleball enthusiast.

He said his community involvement began with five years of volunteering at the Chandler Public Library, where he later became the president of the Volunteer Advisory Council.

He also volunteered with the Chandler Police Operational Support Bureau and still serves on the Chandler Citizens Police Academy Alumni Committee Executive Board.

For the past four years, Yang has served as a Maricopa County Community College Police Department police aide.

Yang has served with groups planning Asian American events.

Yang currently serves as one of 15 civilian members of the city’s Citizens’ Panel for Review of Police Complaints and Use of Force .He also serves as a Business And Education Committee member with the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce.

Professionally, Yang is the chief operating officer of the Chandler-Gilbert Asian Festival and the CEO of 153AZ — a model car company that makes model police cars for various agencies and officers.

Yang said he’s helped Chandler Parks And Recreation in various locations, including the Tumbleweed Rec Center, Community Center and Snedigar Sportsplex as well as with the city’s Special Events Division.

We’d like to invite our readers to submit their civil comments on this topic.  Email AZOpinions@iniusa.org.