Mayor John Giles Love Letter To Mesa: Mayor Giles, native of Mesa, talks about his life in Mesa, and his commitment to help make Downtown Mesa all that it can be.
When did you first come to Mesa? How did you get here?
"I was born in Mesa, Arizona. I was born in what is now Benedictine University at the corner of Main and Hibbert St. My family lived at 250 W 9th St which is just on the other side of University from here, and I went to all local schools including Westwood High School. After I graduated from ASU Law School I began practicing law at 30 W 1st Street, a short walk from where we are sitting right now. When I started my own law practice I ventured out all the way over to 44 W University it's about a mile from here. When I first got involved in the whole historic reuse idea I moved to 238 W 2nd Strett which is even closer to the Mayor's Office. So, I have spent most of my life, especially my adult professional life in this neighborhood. I literally started my life and was raised in Downtown Mesa. So, it is in my DNA, I am a Downtown Mesa guy. I have great memories as a child of going with my mom shopping for whatever we needed on Main Street. At Newberry's and a place called LaSuers Men's Store and Everybody's Drug Stores, my friends worked at the lunch counter at the drug store. I remember the transition from Downtown Mesa to Tri City Mall and how difficult that was for Downtown Mesa back in the 1970's and saw the effects of the freeways and Fiesta Mall siphoning off life and vitality and traffic from Downtown Mesa. So, I have seen Downtown Mesa at it's heyday and I have seen Downtown Mesa at it's low point. When I was on the City Council in the 1990's we tried to do everything we could think of to find a pulse on Main St. We were not particularly successful at that. What we were successful at, and I am very proud to have been a part of, was the decision to locate the Mesa Arts Center in Downtown Mesa at the corner of Center and Main Streets to revitalize our Downtown. We could have put it anywhere, and there was a lot of pressure to put it elsewhere. I am very excited about the good things in Downtown Mesa, about the way it is, but I am also excited about it getting better. It is a personal thing for me, I would take a lot of personal satisfaction from being a part of revitalizing Downtown Mesa."
What is your most central mission here?
"My most central mission is to increase the prosperity of Mesa. It is not focused specifically on Downtown Mesa, but that is of course a part of it. My job is to help the folks who live in Dobson Ranch, Eastmark, Falcon Field, the Groves, Riverview and everywhere in Mesa to take it to the next level: to give them the opportunities to have a good job, and good schools, for this to be a great place for them to live and work."
What are your favorite things about Mesa's downtown?
"Well I love the Mesa Arts Center. It is a world class facility and I am anxious to shine as bright a light as I can on the Mesa Arts Center because it deserves it. Downtown Mesa is very authentic. It is not a Disneyland re-creation of a downtown: it is the real thing. We have credentials, we have credibility for being a genuine downtown. I am getting tired of hearing how good our bones are. The saddest word in the English language is "potential". I am anxious for it to reach it's potential. I love the restaurants, but I want the restaurants to be dramatically a bigger part of downtown then they are now. I do love what we have and the opportunity for more. I love the genuineness of the whole place, it really is a good old downtown."
What are your hopes for the future, what do you envision when Downtown Mesa reaches it's potential?
"What I see is people. They are not just going to eat in a restaurant, or the Mesa Arts Center or Benedictine University or other universities or just going to retail shops or taking their kids to school. They are doing all of the above and doing other things too. I think residential options are certainly a part of what we need to bring to Downtown Mesa as well. People need to live here, it can't be a 9 to 5 place, it needs to be a 24 hour place. So the vision is people, more people, more businesses but also more places to live."
What can we as residents do from the ground up to help?
"You are doing it. There is a great Downtown culture and support group and enthusiasm. I love the folks who are already committed to living downtown and doing renovations to existing homes and there is a real renaissance in our old neighborhoods right now. We need to just keep encouraging people to live in downtown Mesa and to open businesses here. We need to have folks encourage and support the City Council to make people understand that this is a good use of city resources to revitalize downtown Mesa. We need more attractions and more reasons for people to come downtown Mesa. We need the city, and the Mayor, to be very proactive in jumpstarting some good quality development downtown; residential, entertainment and other good uses. Additionally, the folks that are here need to continue to be enthusiastic about it. The makerspace environment and the arts environment that is great. It is going to get stronger when we get Artspace down here, that will help with the arts community. It is an ideal fit for downtown Mesa with the Mesa Arts Center the artists that live there can work teaching at the Mesa Arts Center in addition to what they do in their own studios. It is inevitable that it will happen. I struggle with the patience to let it happen, I want to jumpstart it anyway I can."
Mayor Giles expresses a great identity for downtown Mesa: a unique combination of ties to our historic community with the vision of a prosperous and vibrant Downtown. He sees arts and culture infusing a new inviting vibe to Downtown Mesa while preserving our authentic Main Street identity.
Mayor Giles's Love Letter To Mesa is "#nextmesa starts Downtown"