Here is a compilation of all the answers David Sanders submitted to the “Council Candidate Q&A” series that the Surprise Independent ran over the last two months. Mr. Sanders is running against Jack Hastings and write-in Kawika Henderson in District 5 in the Aug. 4 primary election.
Voters should trust me because my focus is them, it always has been. My family and I are fully vested in Surprise. I have owned a home in Surprise for the last 11 years and am raising my children here. My goal is to help the City Council move the city forward, toward a city that offers its residents education options, employment options, entertainment options for all ages, and a place where they can stay and retire as well as a place where our children want to stay when they complete their education
How do you keep a balanced budget with the uncertainties of COVID-19?
We are currently in the process of keeping the current fiscal year budget in balance. With the help of the city management, and the Finance Department, the Council and I reduced over $5 million in non-essential spending, while reducing additional expenses and delayed capital projects into the future. Our aim is to the best of our ability maintain the level of service residents are accustomed to, while monitoring revenues and expenses to remain in balance. My master’s [degree] in business administration, commercial banking and financial statement analysis experience, and extensive budgeting experience have been valuable skill sets I am able to bring the council. This knowledge is especially important during these economic times when city revenues are down due to COVID, and there is a lot of economic uncertainty. It is important to apply these skills when keeping a balanced budget, which is required by law.
We are currently working on maintaining Surprise as a tourist destination with our Sports & Tourism Department and our Emergency Manager. Safety is our priority and we have spent a lot of time researching best practices to maintain that safety and maintain CDC guidelines. Summer baseball tournaments which are slated to begin in June, are critical for our tourism strategy. These tournaments provided a 50% increase in bed tax revenues last year. They also add revenue with sales tax for our local restaurants and retail. Surprise is a tourism destination, and we intend to keep it that way!
Economic development and the expanding of City Center (downtown Surprise) are the biggest issues facing District 5. Since we approved the Incentive Agreement between Surprise and landowner, and the completion of the Master Plan, development has begun which includes the [Texas] Rangers’s housing, the O’Dell Center at Ottawa, and many other projects are currently under consideration. Progress on the development of City Center is underway, and additional projects and development is currently needed.
With this being said, I heard from many of my constituents about the approval of Mera City Center Apartments that is currently under construction on Greenway Road. The City Center Planned Area Development allows this type of development. The PAD was approved by Council on Jan. 11, 2001, which was long before any of the current Council served. City Council cannot deny a project that is in compliance with zoning and all other development requirements.
We need to continue to capitalize on our assets and make sure that we aren’t missing any opportunities to promote Surprise with regards to economic development and sports/tourism. Also, we need to promote the city’s assets such as our Foreign Trade Zone for more economic development and our sports fields for more sports and tourism events.
The biggest need for Surprise is more activities for our youth. We have fantastic recreational programming, but the group from ages 14 to 18 need additional entertainment and opportunities. Additional family-friendly entertainment would be well-received by our families as well.
The safe family-friendly sense of community is the best thing about Surprise. My wife and I are building our life here and raising our three children. We know in Surprise, we are safe. We have built life-long friendships, and our children have the activities they love, and are also making great friends and building relationships with the youth of Surprise.