By Scottsdale Pinetop
It’s been over five months since Scottsdale welcomed its newly elected city council members, who all earned their seats at the Nov. 3 General Election.
Councilwoman Betty Janik gathered 59,753 votes in last year’s General Election, making her the top vote-getter among all city council candidates.
Born and raised in Chicago, IL Councilwoman Janik and her husband moved to Scottsdale over 17 years ago. Her long-standing resume of public service spans across the Scottsdale community including serving as co-founder of the Protect Our Preserve PAC, the citizen-led committee behind Proposition 420. She served as the President for the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) and a member of the 2019 For The Best Scottsdale PAC, the campaign that spearheaded the passage of three city bond questions for $319 million.
We had a chance to catch up with newly-elected Councilwoman Janik to see how things have going being on the City Council and her hopes for the future of Scottsdale.
- Having served on the City Council for over five months, how has the adjustment been in the new role?
The adjustment to my new role in Council has been challenging and rewarding. There is much to learn and time is of the essence. I am still a work in progress trying to balance all the time demands.
- What has been the best thing and the worst thing about serving on the City Council?
The best thing about serving on Council is working on a compromise with fellow citizens and Council members to achieve the best outcome for all. The biggest problem is finding that common ground with citizens who are at the extreme ends of the spectrum and fail to consider they are only 1 of over 250,000 voices in our city.
- Public engagement and community input was a top priority for you throughout your campaign. How will you continue to communicate and connect with your constituents? Have you found this to be challenging while in office?
On the topic of public engagement, I read my emails and respond as time allows. I try to gather information from all sides of an issue with site visits, community meetings, and studying the proposals, etc. When appropriate, I voice the rationale for a specific vote at council meetings. I need to write more on current issues and this is my next goal. Communication on social media and throughout local papers has been challenging due to time limits.
- How do you believe we can best retain the essential character of Scottsdale and still address key issues around infrastructure, tourism, and growth?
I believe the best way to retain the character of Scottsdale and address key issues is to be a good listener and have an overall view of what we are trying to accomplish. My fellow Council members are an outstanding source of information.
- Last month the council voted on its first major development project in Scottsdale – The Kimsey – which you voting in support of. Why did you ultimately decide to vote in favor of the project? How will this decision impact your vote on future development projects coming before the council?
The vote on Kimsey was extremely difficult for me. I met with many people involved in the project and listened to all sides of the discussion. I always try to be objective in my assessment of an issue. I did consider views, traffic in the area, and other parameters. I ultimately voted in favor of the project after listening to the voices of those business owners on Craftsman Court and vicinity. Their livelihood and the survival of their businesses were of the greatest importance to me. I was also confident that the project design was of high quality. Finally, the historical significance of preserving the Kimsey Building was beneficial. I will make my decisions on development projects one by one, not as a generalized policy statement.
- What are your top priorities on Council? Do you intend to introduce new items and if so what are they?
One of my top priorities is the passage of the General Plan. While not perfect, it is a solid plan that I believe expresses the vision of our citizens. As a member of the Short-Term Rental Group, we will find effective solutions to combat the problems associated with non-compliance with our city code. Working to bring our art community under one umbrella as a showcase for tourism is another worthy goal.
- Recently the City Council voted to take a second look at Scottsdale’s Old Town Character Area Plan – specifically when it comes to downtown heights. What do you hope will be the result of this new review? What do you think this will mean for Scottsdale as a whole?
I am committed to finding common ground on the future growth/development of Scottsdale’s Old Town. By working with all stakeholders and respecting all opinions, we will formulate an Old Town Character Area Plan that represents the best of Scottsdale.