Growing up in a farm community with dreams of working on the family farm, Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney never thought he would be where he is today.
“I enjoy meeting with people. It’s the thing that I was not looking forward to the most. I’m not a people person. I’ve never been a people person,” Mayor Barney said during an interview.
After taking the mayoral position following his cousin Art Sanders, Mayor Barney has learned to love the position and is growing along with the town.
Queen Creek over the past 10 years has grown incredibly, expanding roadways, highways, bringing in new companies and creating new jobs.
State Route 24 was brought out to Queen Creek with more plans to come. While some transportation plans are seeming to expand Queen Creek, some residents aren’t too happy about the construction.
Kelly Carey — a Queen Creek resident and mother of two — feels that the construction makes it a bit harder to commute every day.
“I am happy the roads are expanding and there are more places to eat and shop but the construction does affect some of my everyday traveling like to work for example,” Mrs. Carey said.
Mayor Barney also serves on the board of directors for the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority and is involved with Visit Mesa. He feels very strongly about expanding the airport with hopes to bring more people to the East Valley.
Visit Mesa is a program that promotes tourism of Mesa with foreigners. Mayor Barney has flown to countries such as Germany and China to try to get tourism charter flights into the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and to visit the East Valley.
“We would like to see more people coming and were looking for new airlines to come in and also looking to expand the charter business,” Mayor Barney said.
Airport employee Josh Page thinks this expansion of the airport will bring in more revenue and additional job openings.
“I think as the airport continues to grow and we cater to more flights, I will hopefully get more hours and that will work out for me in the end,” Mr. Page said.
As the East Valley and Queen Creek continue to grow, Gail Barney is learning to adapt to the position as a community leader and Queen Creek will continue to grow as the East Valley’s new hot spot.
Editor’s note: Ayrianna Drayton is a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.