New Queen Creek councilmen sworn in, Brown appointed vice mayor

The town of Queen Creek has a new council member and a new vice mayor.

During its Jan. 18 meeting, the Queen Creek Town Council seated three members during a swearing-in ceremony. Council members Robin Benning and Jeff Brown were sworn in for their third term and Councilman Jake Hoffman was sworn in for his first term. Their four-year terms will end January 2021.

Also present were Mayor Gail Barney and council members Dawn Oliphant, Emilena Turley and Julia Wheatley.

For more information about the town council, visit www.queencreek.org/towncouncil.

The men’s oath of office was administered by Judge Sam Goodman, justice of the peace for San Tan Justice Court in Chandler.

Mr. Brown also was nominated by Mayor Barney as the vice mayor for the upcoming year. His appointment was approved 6-0 by the council. Mr. Brown recused himself from the vote. He takes over the position from Ms. Oliphant, whose term had ended.

Council members and the mayor serve four-year terms; the vice mayor serves a one-year term.

In addition, the council approved the lists of committee and commission appointments proposed for each member.

Vice Mayor Brown was re-elected to the council during the Aug. 30 primary election. Council members Benning and Hoffman were the two top vote-getters in the run-off election that took place during the Nov. 8 general election. Also running in the run-off election were then-Councilman Craig Barnes and Matt McWilliams.

Councilman Barnes

Outgoing Councilman Barnes was recognized during the Jan. 18 meeting for his years of service on the council and to the community. He served two terms on town council and was involved in a variety of local, state and national boards including the National League of Cities, according to a press release.

Mayor Barney presented the outgoing councilman with a Queen Creek road sign for Barnes Way. It was signed by many town staff members.

“Thank you so much for all your service to the community and I look forward to working with you over the future,” the mayor said.

Mr. Barnes said he was pleased by the road sign.

“That’s very awesome and I appreciate it very much,” he said. “I want to thank my wife and son for all the time while I was gone on different trips and different meetings and late nights and for enduring that. And to the staff, it’s a wonderful staff. I’ve never worked with such great people in my life. I really appreciate everything you guys have done. You’ve made me look really good. And to all the citizens of Queen Creek, it was a pleasure and honor serving you. I’ll still be around helping different things, so thank you very much.”

Councilman Benning

Councilman Benning has worked in Queen Creek as an architect since 1997 and moved here with his wife and two children in 2004. He has a bachelor of arts in architecture from the University of New Mexico, and has a master’s degree from Arizona State University’s Urban and Environmental Planning program. Councilman Benning was appointed to the town council in November 2009. He won election in 2012 and reelection in 2016 and is a graduate of Queen Creek’s Citizen Leadership Institute.

He has worked in Queen Creek as an architect since 1997 and moved here with his wife and two children in 2004.

As part of his duties, Councilman Benning will serve on the following committees: Parks and Recreation Committee, Central Arizona Governments Regional Council (chair and primary) and Pinal County Alliance, and as an alternate on the League Transportation, Infrastructure and PW Committee.

Mayor Barney asked the newly sworn-in council members if they would like to address the audience. Councilman Benning declined.

Councilman Hoffman

Councilman Hoffman previously served the residents of Queen Creek as an elected member of the Higley Unified School District Governing Board. He serves as the vice chairman for the local Republican Party, according to the press release.

Councilman Hoffman has a master of business administration in management and a bachelor of science. Professionally, he serves as the executive director of the local faith-based non-profit organization, E3 Africa. He is the principal owner of a digital communications and strategy firm and is a local Realtor.

As part of his duties, Councilman Hoffman will serve on the following committees: Economic Development Commission and East Valley Partnership Economic Development Committee, and as an alternate on the East Valley Partnership Board of Directors.

The new council member and his wife, Kimberly, have four children: Tyler, McKenzie, Oliver and Bennett.

After the swearing-in ceremony, Councilman Hoffman brought his family up on the dais to accompany him while he addressed the audience.

“The reason why I’m bringing them up is because they are an incredible support structure. None of this would be possible without our loving god Jesus and this family right here,” he said. “… I just want to say thank you to everyone who came out and cast a vote, whether they voted for me or not. I’m grateful for you for exercising your right.

“We live in an incredible town, we have incredible people. This is a town where neighbors still actually mean something and that’s rare to find today,” Councilman Hoffman continued. “So I’m very grateful for the opportunity to serve, the opportunity to champion the conservative principals that represent this town, the opportunity to champion things like fiscal responsibility which this council has done a great job of. I want to continue that trend.”

Councilman Hoffman concluded his remarks by saying, “…the people of Queen Creek are going to do incredible things so we can become the most prosperous place to own a business and most enjoyable place in all of Arizona to call home.”

Vice Mayor Brown

Vice Mayor Brown was first elected to the town council in 2008 and was reelected in 2012 and 2016. Before seeking elected office, he served on the Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission 2006-08, according to the town’s website. He also served as chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee, on the Design Guideline Steering Committee and as a member of the Finance Review Task Force. Vice Mayor Brown is a 2003 graduate of the Queen Creek Citizen Leadership Institute and in 2007 completed the Community Emergency Response Team training course. He serves as squad leader for the Southeast Queen Creek CERT sector.

As part of his duties, Vice Mayor Brown will serve on the following committees: Budget Committee, chairman; Transportation Advisory Committee; East Valley Partnership; Transportation Advisory Committee; League General Administration, HR and Elections Committee; League Transportation, Infrastructure and PW Committee; and Greater Phoenix Economic Council (as the mayor’s representative) and as an alternate on the Pinal County Alliance.

The vice mayor and his family have lived in Queen Creek since 2002. He is self-employed, focusing on professional consulting services and real estate investments as the owner of JBQC Investments LLC and 50 percent owner of Kneadmor Cowbell LLC, according to the town’s website.

Vice Mayor Brown reflected on the election and his years on the council.

“Thanks first to the people of Queen Creek. So many volunteered time, hosted yard signs and just plain worked hard to get the word out about my candidacy. It’s truly an honor and I’m appreciative to have been able to connect to so many and to have earned and retained their trust,” he said during the meeting. “Thanks also to town staff for consistently providing an effective and professional work environment in which the team’s efforts result in all the unbiased info on any topic that a council member could hope for and then for being diligent and efficient in carrying out the policies voted on by our town council.

“The biggest thanks are reserved to my beautiful wife, Karen, for her seemingly unending support of my mission of public service that the town council represents for me,” Vice Mayor Brown continued. “She’s kept me grounded lest I get a big head about myself over some really good things I feel like we’ve accomplished or made great strides on. Being married to a school teacher really helps me keep things in perspective. I’m working daily to create a really good place to live and while that sounds like kind of an honorable thing to do, she’s really working daily to help create really good and nice people. I’m hopefully making a nice place, she’s helping to make really smart kids.

“That’s really humbling and I appreciate that juxtaposition since it helps me stay real and to always remember that the human element of anything we do is the most important.”

Vice Mayor Brown also commented on future events and issues facing the town council.

“As we look to the next four years of service to Queen Creek, residents, town council and staff can expect much of the same from me in an ongoing commitment to public safety, roads, building parks and being a voice of fiscal decisions that make sense for our town and help us move forward. The town is truly a special place indeed and we’ve come far since I first moved here as the 5,000th resident in 2003. At around 40,000 population today, we’ve accomplished much of which I’m proud of. That said, we’re still less than halfway to our build-out and I’ll continue to endeavor to keep this town the jewel of the Salt River Valley and a place of family-friendly neighborhoods, wonderful places to play, dine, shop and own a business.”

Committee assignments
The following town council committee assignments were also approved for 2017:

•Mayor Barney: Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council, MAG Economic Development Committee, MAG Executive Committee, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority Board of Directors; Maricopa/Northern Pinal Gateway Alliance, Queen Creek Public Safety Retirement Board chairman, AZ Model City Tax Code Commission and East Valley Partnership Aviation and Aerospace Committee.

•Councilwoman Oliphant: Budget Committee, Economic Development Commission, League Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee and League Neighborhoods, Sustainability and Quality of Life Committee.

•Councilwoman Turley: Budget Committee and Transportation Advisory Committee.

•Councilwoman Wheatley: Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, East Valley Partnership Board of Directors and League Public Safety, Military Affairs and Courts Committee.

Town council meetings generally take place on the first and third Wednesday of the month. They are broadcast live at www.queencreek.org and at Ustream.tv/councilmeeting.

Recordings of previous meetings and meeting agendas are also available on the town’s website.

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