PRESCOTT VALLEY – After finishing her term as a Prescott Valley Town Councilwoman in 2018, Prescott Valley resident Jodi Rooney (Republican) is going to run for the Arizona House of Representatives District One office with an intent to tackle issues regarding education, Interstate 17 (I-17) and continue building economic development.
“I believe this is the time for me to step forward,” said Rooney, who was appointed to the Town’s Council in January of 2017 following the vacancy of Stephen Marshall. “I believe I have something really good to bring to the table.”
Rooney mentioned she wasn’t planning to run for the Legislature, saying she intended to run for the Council seat again when it opened up. However, Rooney decided to go after a spot in the House of Representatives due to her passion for education and experience in transportation.
“I like our quality of life here, I want to continue maintaining that, but I think there are a couple of things we need to work on,” Rooney said. “At the Legislature, that’s where I can really work on education.”
“Our teachers need to be paid more money, it’s (teacher salary) not meeting the need,” Rooney continued.
Economic Development & Education
One of Rooney’s three main starting points is economic development, which she ties directly to the importance of education. Rooney says companies coming into the area take education into account. Rooney points out the schools in the area have been exceeding education standards despite the budget constraints. In fact, Humboldt Unified School District announced Bradshaw Mountain High School graduates earned 5.4 million in scholarships in 2017 with $20 million combined over the last three years.
Our Teachers are High Achievers with the Lowest Pay – Changes Needed
“While we are not the lowest achieving, we are the lowest paid for teachers,” Rooney said. “There is a difference in that, which tells me we have been able to make the most good with what funds we do have, we’re maximizing. You can only ask people to maximize for so long, when it comes back to it, you got to make some changes.
“That’s where we are at, I believe we are at the pinnacle,” Rooney said.
In order to hit the ground running with this issue, Rooney mentioned talking with superintendents and principals from public schools to charter schools. Additionally, Rooney discussed the shortage of affordable housing for teachers while participating in a Humboldt Unified School District “ Vision 2020” focus table.
“This is one of those (issues) that I don’t want to kick the can up the road, I want to be part of the solutions,” Rooney said.
Education isn’t the only major project with implications to economic development found on Rooney’s plan of attack. Due to the various uses of I-17 in the state, Rooney plans to work on fixing issues with the highway. Just from traveling back and forth between Phoenix and Prescott Valley, Rooney knows first-hand the frustration of I-17 delays due to either car accidents or wildfires.
Rooney has a wealth of knowledge regarding public transportation that she plans to utilize to solve this problem, most recently being a Local Public Agency Section Manager for the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).
Rooney said she recently gave a presentation to the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy regarding the I-17 problem with a cost of $1.2 Billion to solve the issue.
“Clearly we know that we are not going to be able to spend that much money on that corridor, but what can we spend to get some bang for the buck?” Rooney said. “We have to look at what are the other projects in the state.”
“Knowing that, if we can get some relief on I-17, it’s going to make the quality of life better….just the public safety of it is huge,” Rooney continued.
Being appointed to the Council in January of 2017, this is Rooney’s first experience going out collecting signatures and campaigning. She has enjoyed talking to individuals and has even heard some issues previously not thought of including healthcare options in the increasingly expanding Prescott Valley.
“If we are not keeping up with healthcare providers, there could be a shortage or it could produce a long wait for people to get in,” Rooney said. “That’s an issue that I had not heard. People are telling me what’s important to them.”
Through her time at the Prescott Valley Town Council, Rooney has gained a sizeable contact list of professionals in various industries. She plans to use that to her advantage if elected.
“Sometimes we can run something through and maybe it’s not the best for those who are actually on the ground,” Rooney said. “It’s important to have those connections.”
Mentioning the power of local control, which is the public-elected figures to the various local boards, Rooney doesn’t plan to forget her roots if elected.
“When my husband and I came here 11 years ago, one thing we realized real fast is it’s about local control here,” Rooney said. “That’s really important because sometimes at the Legislature, maybe people forget when they get to that level, I won’t forget that.”
“Sometimes, like the Federal Government, there can be overreach and I am not afraid to raise my voice and take action to combat that,” Rooney continued.
As for Rooney’s seat on the council, she knows a qualified candidate will be found due to the stiff competition she faced during the appointment competition.
“I do believe from all of the people who are here as residents, and those that are moving in, that we have a really good pool of people who will come forward to run for that council seat,” Rooney said. “I know that we are going to have that leadership that we need moving forward. I believe there are people here who want solutions and I want to be part of that solution.”
Drove by the passion to solve problems she cares about deeply, Rooney decided to retire early from her position at ADOT in order to run for the State House of Representatives. Rooney is fully committed to the campaign.
“I want to be able to make a difference in education and certainly see that our teachers are paid more, and make a difference in transportation (by) working with I-17 so that we can provide some relief,” Rooney said. “I’m talking on the front end, not years down the road.”
The current Arizona House of Representatives for District One is Noel Campbell and David Stringer.
Published from Signals