Former county and city planning director Debra Stark was selected by the Phoenix City Council on June 14 to fill the council seat for District 3 being vacated by Councilman Bill Gates, who is running for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
Stark brings 33 years of local government planning experience to the council and is driven by the desire to help residents and businesses understand government and how it can serve them. She is also proud of the 17 years she served on the Maricopa County Trial Court Selection Commission – a post she resigned to take the council appointment.
Stark was selected from a pool of nine candidates to fill the seat on an interim basis until the Nov. 8 general election, when a permanent replacement will be chosen to serve the remainder of Gates’ term, which runs through 2019. Stark is also running for the permanent seat.
1. Briefly tell us about yourself and your dedication to public service.
My entire career has been in public service as a city planner.
My career started in Phoenix in 1982 and over the years I have worked for Maricopa County, Peoria and Phoenix. I have had the privilege to serve as director of planning and development for all three jurisdictions.
The greatest passion I have had in my career is to help residents and businesses understand government and how it can serve them. As the councilwoman from District 3, I will continue that passion.
2. Which current issue are you most passionate about? Why?
Government can be complex and there are so many rules and regulations. Many of those rules and regulations are important and in place to ensure public safety. However, I know that we can continue to find ways to streamline our processes so our businesses thrive and work in harmony with our neighborhoods.
3. How does your background as a city and county planning director prepare you for your work on the Phoenix City Council?
Since my career has been in local government, I hit the ground running! I have an extensive understanding of the various departments in Phoenix and how they operate and serve the public. My background will help me get answers for the residents and businesses of District 3.
4. What should the business community expect to see from your work on the council?
I am here to help businesses succeed that provide the goods and services our neighborhoods want and need. My goal is to ensure that it is easy to start, grow and retain businesses in Phoenix.
5. To what other organizations/activities do you dedicate your time?
For 17 years I served as a member of the Maricopa County Trial Court Selection Commission. This group investigates and evaluates potential judge candidates for the Maricopa County bench. We send a list of at least three highly qualified candidates to the governor, who in turn appoints one of our candidates to serve as a Maricopa County Trial Court judge.
This process has resulted in one of the most respected trial court benches in the United States. I recently had to step down due to my appointment to Phoenix City Council, but I am so proud that I was a part of such an important commission.
6. Aside from public service, what else are you passionate about?
I am very passionate about my family. My husband and I have two wonderful adult children. We all enjoy getting together and often like to try the many fabulous local restaurants in Phoenix. We have several favorites!
7. Are you running to be the permanent representative for District 3 on the City Council?
I do intend on running for the permanent seat and am very excited about the possibility of serving the residents and businesses in the great city of Phoenix.
8. Anything else?
I appreciate the important service that the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce provides. I hope to work with the Chamber to promote the value of doing business in Phoenix!