Work tirelessly to make 202 work for residents

Kevin PattersonMy Plan for Ahwatukee Comments

Our team has been knocking on doors all over Ahwatukee and we’ve heard about the 202 expansion every day. The expansion evokes strong reactions from all sides of the debate and as someone who prides themselves as an active listener and consensus builder, I admit this is a difficult issue.

For a decade, Ahwatukee residents have passionately fought the highway extension with community meetings, petitions, and lawsuits. The extension won, so now your City Councilman must rise to the challenge of listening to and actively advocating for your concerns, whether it be safety, economic impact, or noise levels damaging our quality of life. When politicians forget to advocate for these concerns they’re ignoring their main purpose.

Many politicians advocate for these concerns at the start of a project and lack the follow through to make them actually work. Listening to community concerns at the start of a project is vital, but so is following through to make sure the project goes well.

I grew up in Ahwatukee. I know first-hand that residents expect a quality of life in-line with both their property value and what they envisioned when they decided to make it their home; That includes roads that are safe. One man told me he was blinded when driving on the 202, and confused by the lack of medians and signs. As your future City Councilman, your safety and well-being are of the utmost importance to me. If I wouldn’t drive on it yet, neither should you!

The economic impact of the 202 is another major concern to small business owners; Particularly on Pecos Road, where they are being affected by the exit ramp construction. Making sure that these businesses remain accessible during this time is critical. I want to foster a dialogue for business owners to voice their concerns and best practices for moving forward. Local businesses are what drive our economy forward and we must ensure that they feel empowered to speak out to create good policy.

Community members have been coming forward with the problems of the 202 extension. The sound wall isn’t finished. It’s not properly lit at night. It’s dangerous. These are follow through problems and they come from paying lip service to communities but not putting in the work. When politicians don’t listen to communities, and only pay lip service, citizens forget that politicians work for them.

Politicians listen to those with the loudest voices, those in the majority, and those with stakes in the development plans. In many cases, they listen but do not act. Native American and Environmental groups spoke and were ignored. Neither the prospect of destroying sacred land or giving our children an unsafe environment were considered when the 202 was built. We have to do better.

Homeowners in Ahwatukee expected a lot from the 202 extension, because a lot was promised. Homeowners were promised higher property value and shorter commutes to work. A small few did get both; For many, the unfinished sound wall and the dangerous highway made their neighborhoods louder and less valuable.

The extension didn’t have to turn out this way, but by ignoring community concerns and not taking action, local government failed to work for the communities it represents.

I’m not afraid to talk about or tackle the tough issues. As your City Councilman, I pledge to always be accessible, attentive, and available to our community’s diverse needs!