Waring happy with his progress on Phoenix City CouncilThe Arizona Republic, Michael Clancy
Jim Waring says he is happy with the progress he has made as a City Council member, even if things are not what he was accustomed to in his years as a state senator.
Waring replaced longtime Councilwoman Peggy Neely, who resigned in her third term to run unsuccessfully for mayor. She was replaced temporarily by Bryan Jeffries, who served through August. Waring took the seat in early September by virtue of his majority win in the special election Aug. 30.
His fiscal conservatism was on view for all to see almost immediately. The District 2 representative for northeast Phoenix now has joined Councilmen Bill Gates of District 3 and Sal DiCiccio of District 5 as a sort of conservative caucus of the council.
Gates has led the city's efficiency efforts, while DiCiccio has become known for his outspokenness on such issues as employee compensation.
Waring said he is proud of winning a reduction in the city's water rates, effective next July, and of cutting the jail tax in half -- another item that shows up on water bills. These items, he suggested, might not be brought up by longtime council members who have gotten used to how things work.
Waring also said he was happy to have forced a discussion of the city's food tax, even if it was a losing effort. The attempt to end the tax was sidelined after other members expressed concerns about how that money could be replaced.
On a matter that illustrated some of the differences between the council and the Legislature, where Waring served as a Republican, he was frustrated by the vote to support city staff's proposal to redo the city's billboard law.
Waring said there was no reason to proceed in haste, especially after Councilman Claude Mattox offered a long, technical verbal amendment to the proceedings.
Waring said he has been pleased with the responsiveness of city staff to his concerns and those of his constituents. "Compared to what I had heard, it seems to be much better," he said.
One example is with the Street Transportation Department, which has worked closely with Waring on the Sonoran Boulevard controversy. The seeds for resolving the conflict were planted by Jeffries, but Waring has followed up.
He also is working with the department on the Black Mountain Boulevard ramps connecting to Arizona 51, and the fate of the 64th Street overpass at Loop 101, which he calls "the real bridge to nowhere."
"A horror movie could be filmed at that location," he said.
Waring plans to work on getting the city to link the overpass to Mayo Boulevard, to the south, at least.