Newsroom | Message from the Chair, May 2020

MAG News

The world is definitely in a different place from where it was when I became MAG Chair in June of last year.

Regional Council, Chair Message, Mitchell

The world is definitely in a different place from where it was when I became MAG Chair in June of last year. It has been my honor to lead this organization over the past 12 months, and it is unfortunate that my final message as Chair comes during a time of uncertainty and heartache for many due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am very proud of how our region has responded during this time of crisis, and at no time has regional collaboration played a more important role.

While safety and well-being are the highest priorities, work continues, and it may be reassuring to recall what a productive year we have had. We launched a major update of the Regional Transportation Plan. This included the completion of the Regional Transit Framework Study and the Active Transportation Plan. To promote bicyclist and pedestrian safety, MAG launched a task force focused on enforcement and education. MAG also began a program to test emerging technologies to improve daily life.

MAG continued its air quality efforts. We saw success in late 2019, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that the region has met the 2008 eight-hour ozone standard. For the 2015 ozone standard, the EPA classified the Maricopa Nonattainment Area as a Marginal Area.

The Human Services staff continued to address issues facing older adults, survivors of domestic violence, and individuals and families experiencing homelessness. MAG once again coordinated the annual volunteer effort to count the number of people experiencing homelessness in the region. It also has begun its annual heat relief efforts to prevent heat related deaths. Meanwhile, MAG’s Regional Analytics Division turned its talents toward providing data to member agencies regarding vulnerable populations at greatest risk for COVID-19. 

We continued to take steps to improve the region’s economy, such as engendering support for the Southwest Tourism and Expansion Act. The legislation would allow holders of a U.S.-issued Border Crossing Card to travel anywhere in the state of Arizona. MAG estimates that if passed, extending the zone would have a $181 million annual impact on the state’s economy, and may serve a future role in our economic recovery.

Another successful effort was coordination of a Census 2020 regional outreach campaign. The census will affect the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funding to local communities for housing, education, transportation, health care and much more. 

These are just a few of the many activities MAG undertakes to improve the lives of more than 4 million residents every day. It has been my pleasure to have played a role in these efforts, and I thank my fellow Regional Council members for the opportunity. 

Published April 16, 2020