District 5

Henderson: I feel I'm the right choice for Surprise

By Kawika Henderson
Posted 7/29/20

Guest commentary from Kawika Henderson, a write-in candidate in District 5 for the Surprise City Council, in advance of Aug. 4 city elections.

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District 5

Henderson: I feel I'm the right choice for Surprise


Hi, my fellow residents. My name is Kawika Henderson, and I feel that I am the right choice for Surprise.

I am alarmed by the slow patch work being done to disguise the disorganization and irresponsible development of our city. The true identity of Surprise is misrepresented. The lack of unique and essential businesses and corporations showcasing our talents, as well as, opportunities to promote community growth and unity, are disastrous to our future.

The reason I chose to run for office is simple, there is no real representation of the people. I’ve grown up here, I remember the initially split of our 602 area code and I remember when Walmart was the only place to frequent. My point being, my loyalty will always be with the city of Surprise and her residents. 

My goals are to unify our growing community and preserve our hometown feel, all the while providing opportunities to the residents to ensure quality of life. We need to promote strong morale and pride within our city and establish a true Surprise identity. Are we really OK with being a city identified by a few half empty standard strip malls? We need to invest in our people and cultivate expertise here. 

Why do we have a $1.4 billion budget without major development to show for it. Where is the money going? I strongly disagree with the direction Surprise is heading as it is not beneficial to us, the residents. Take a look around, do you see $1.4 billion at work? 

We need businesses and corporations within our city limits that can allow our residents to not only live here but work here. Microsoft, Boeing, Intel, Amazon and others have recently been brought into the valley but not here in Surprise.

Why? Our housing market continues to rise yet our median salaries stay stagnant. We need competition. We need opportunity. We need to create our own economic revitalization.

I believe that the city’s developmental progress should be done with complete transparency and participation of Surprise residents. The ultimate goal for our elected officials must be for the benefit of Surprise residents not for developers and special interest groups.

My Economic Plan of Action also consist of a very unique, multipurpose development that would solidify a reliable source of new revenue, responsible growth and community pride. I have recently met with a multi-million-dollar construction company who believes my plan is not only reasonable and attainable but thoroughly thought out and innovative. This plan will propel the city of Surprise to become a premier attraction in the valley. People will truly love living here.

My Economic Plan also consist of generating revenue through investing in our people, so that the approved 2020/2021 budgets shortfalls will not weigh on the backs of the homeowners through increased property taxes. My New initiative includes the economic opportunity zones, which is also a new program from the economic revitalization council, newly approved by the president and will allow recipients to receive grants and low interest loans from the federal government and local banks.

Along with my plan to remove the red tape, residents aspiring to create small businesses like mom-and-pop shops, startups and different dining experiences, will be afforded the opportunity to take that leap of faith. 

It is without question that there are some who continue to promote the ideology of divisiveness. It is my hope that we can bring unity to our community and local law enforcement and set the standard for the rest of the state and nation.

Through my proposed Surprise Police and First Responders Program, we can encourage, support and create healthy interactions between each other in which, our residents will know our law enforcement and first responders on a personal level and vice versa. Our law enforcement is a part of our community and I want to promote the idea of knowing each other beyond the badge.

My focus will be to build community moral and pride by police-led gun safety and gun education classes, disaster preparedness, health and wellness education, officer incentives, community outreach and so much more. 

I also believe that cultivation and development of our youth is a critical task that must not be ignored. I, myself, am a proud Dysart Unified School District graduate. I have partnered with many local public and charter high schools, as well as, Ottawa University, as a strength and conditioning coach for football, basketball, softball and other sports.

I believe we can and should give our youth and young adults a head start into the work force. This head start would be brought through my Surprise City Education Program. This program includes generating funds that would not burden our tax payers, through partnerships with local businesses, the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and investors, in order to provide extra-curricular activities and trade skills programs.

These programs would be made available to all student residents, either public or otherwise. I believe with a fruitful partnership with the Surprise Chamber, the U.S. military and local businesses, our youth will become a driving force in this technological age and beyond.

I truly believe that we are at a significant crossroad that requires the voice of our residents to change our direction. With that being said, I have a concrete plan of action through my proposed initiatives and programs.

I have already begun the dialogue with our first responders, stake holders, faith-based organizations, educators, business owners and other individuals who desire a vibrant and well-organized hometown. All I need is you, the resident, to speak up and elect me.

To learn more about the specifics of these plans I will be hosting a virtual town hall live on Facebook answering questions and expanding on my plan of action, initiatives and programs.

Please follow my page to stay up to date with my campaign and details regarding my virtual town hall. 

Editor’s Note: Kawika Henderson is an official write-in candidate for City Council District 5.