Interview with Kevin Hartke, Mayor of Chandler
Hartke is running for re-election against fellow Republican Ruth Jones, who we recently interviewed. Watch his interview in the video in the article.
Kevin Hartke was elected Mayor of Chandler in 2018. Mayor Hartke has experience as a council member for 8 years prior to his election as mayor. He formerly served as lead pastor in the Trinity Church on McQueen Road. He is still active in the church part time. Hartke is intelligent, well spoken and competent. Chandler is an exceptionally well run city. Yet, there appears to be some fraying around the edges. Not only is Chandler experiencing a rise in visible homelessness and some urban decay, it is also, as the mayor says in the interview, at a real risk of flipping blue. Already the school district is woke, the Chamber of Commerce is woke and the public libraries display BLM propaganda in the children's section.
Video of the Interview - 23 Minutes
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City Council Elections
Unlike fellow Republican Ruth Jones, who declined to endorse any candidate for city council, Hartke supports other conservative candidates feeling that it takes a team to run the city. He says he attends many events to support Darla Gonzalez and Farhana Shifa for city council.
Hartke appeared worried that the once solidly red City of Chandler has become purple and that there is a real chance of a Democrat take-over of the city council, especially since Republicans are only running two candidates for the three available spots. Hartke mentions that many Californians come to the city, often bringing their California voting habits with them.
Hartke said that Chandler has the 3rd best incentive package and continues to have good retention of officers. They have also been able to hire civilians - non-sworn officers - for roles that sworn officers used to do to offset costs such as helping to facilitate a gun range. This hiring shift is freeing the police up to do the most important parts of their job and become more efficient. Hartke says this year the city has hired 37 new officers. This contrasts with Ruth Jones statement that the city has only hired 3.
Sworn officers are able to reactively enforce the law, e.g. via arrests, while non-sworn officers are typically used in pro-active/preventive security measures.
Non-Discrimination Ordinance, NDO
Unlike his opponent Ruth Jones, who supports the Chandler NDO, Hartke opposes it. He states that such an ordinance does not work, is burdensome, onerous and expensive. Like Jones he stated punitive measures of existing NDOs are exceedingly rare to non-existent, because businesses simply don't discriminate against paying customers, except in rare circumstances of a customer request conflicting with religious beliefs, as was the case in the Masterpiece Cake Shop SCOTUS case.
One of his opponent Ruth Jones' main motivations for running is the rise of homelessness in Chandler.
Mayor Hartke outlined how he has worked with the homeless for much of his career, talking to thousands of homeless people in the process. During his time as pastor, Hartke founded I-HELP, the Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program. As Hartke laid out, he has also chaired government homeless programs.
Now, as Mayor of Chandler, Kevin Hartke claimed that point in time - PIT - count numbers can be inaccurate due to adverse weather conditions, at previous counts underestimating numbers, while possibly inflating them now. Hartke nevertheless admitted that homeless numbers have risen. He claimed that the homeless on the street in Chandler are actually local to the city, rather than being imported from elsewhere due to permissive city policies.
Hartke said that the city hired 5 additional navigators to help deal with the rise in homelessness. As Ruth Jones opined in her interview with us, government staff who are salaried for dealing with the homeless have an innate, job preserving interest in there always being homeless people on the streets.
How to Keep Chandler Under Sensible Republican Governance
Those with long-term political strategy on their mind may ask themselves: which way does someone working for a government agency engaged in handing out resources tend to vote? It should be very clear that hiring welfare coordinators and, see below, bringing in businesses from uber-liberal Austin Texas will, over time, changes city demographics from red to blue.
These types of actions, including obliging the Chamber of Commerce for short term benefits of cheap illegal immigrant labor, is how Republicans gambled away California for cheap Chamber of Commerce donations. California was solidly red a few decades ago. It has now turned into a deep blue swamp which in many parts resembles a third world favela. Is the same happening to Arizona and Chandler?
Mayor Hartke says that Chandler is mostly built out so an increased level of high density housing is not as likely in Chandler. There are some commercial spaces that may be redeveloped down the road. Hartke says that in the South of Chandler, there is a virtual moratorium on high density housing but that in the North some high density housing will be built. Hartke says that he has often resisted proposals to turn aging retail space into multi-housing units.
Unlike other cities, Chandler never instituted a mask mandate, but instead opted for a more or less voluntary ordinance. In the interview, see video, Hartke claimed that Chandler never shut down parks during Covid. Yet, virtually all public playgrounds in Chandler were taped off during Covid. There were posters that playgrounds are closed. Water supplies to volleyball courts were shut off. In a follow up off camera Hartke confirmed that this was indeed the case. Hartke is correct in that by comparison Chandler was better than most cities with keeping things open. Hartke says that this has attracted businesses to relocate to Chandler, including a semiconductor plant formerly located in hyper-liberal Austin, Texas.
Hartke said that in the city of Chandler we are putting down $50 million towards debts owed for Public Safety PSPRS for pensions while other cities like Phoenix are in significant debt. Chandler is on track to pay this off by the end of Hartke's presumed second term for which he's currently running. Chandler has a triple A bond rating from all three agencies and is fiscally responsible.
Hartke says that the city cannot influence the curriculum of schools. At the same time he says that the city is working with the Chandler Unified School District, CUSD80, supporting it for example via zoning and collaborative programs. As CUSD80 is being infiltrated by far left extremists pushing their agenda on children, surely the city can use political power and leverage, e.g.: get rid of CRT and DEI, or no more help from the city.
Like many boomer Republicans, Hartke's perception of public schools may be shaped mostly by his own experiences and those of his now grown children. Yet, in the last 20 years, especially in the last 5, things have taken a decided turn for the worse. Shrugging your shoulders saying "nothing we can do", while continuing to shovel taxpayer money at militant teachers unions because of the tired and wrong old mantra "It's for the children" just isn't good enough. Incidentally, Chandler teachers union boss Katie Nash is financially supporting far left city council candidate Angel Encinas. Nash is a biology teacher at Chandler High, which is located only steps away from the Chandler City Hall.
Education has become a winning and highly visible issue for Republicans so it's puzzling how timid some local Republicans appear to be about public schools.
Hartke outlined that even with recent rises in rates, Chandler water rates are still lower than those of any other city in the area. Hartke described in some detail the water arrangements the city has made. He says water stability is good in Chandler when compared to other cities. This is because the city has planned ahead and does not exclusively rely on Lake Mead only for its water.
As Chandler grows Hartke says that more infrastructure is needed to allow people to move around.