Jan. 07--Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny is going back to school, but it's not a plot to a 1980s Rodney Dangerfield movie.
The mayor is learning how to be a judge as he counts down his final few days as Chandler's mayor.
"I'll be doing training (this) week for my new gig, so we'll roll right into it," Tibshraeny said.
The "new gig" is justice of the peace for the San Marcos Justice Court -- a job he describes "like a judge."
In his new role, Tibshraeny will deal with matters such as orders of protection, small claims court matters, civil suits of $10,000 or less, landlord/tenant issues and neighborhood disputes.
But first, he has to learn with a handful of other new justices among the 26 districts in Maricopa County. Over the next three months, Tibshraeny will be learning the ins and outs of how to run his court.
"Everything has a routine," Tibshraeny said. "They're training us new ones all of the specifics and nuances of running your court and hearing the different kinds of cases and how to do that. There's a way to do things, so I'm going to learn that.
"I haven't been doing that, but I'll pick it up pretty quick."
If his judicial career is as successful as his lawmaking career, it's a good bet he will.
Tibshraeny is leaving Chandler after the most productive three decades in the city's short history. Since Tibshraeny first joined the City Council in 1986, Chandler's population has grown from around 25,000 to 250,000 and seen growth that has become the envy of the Valley.
Over that time Chandler saw the openings of the Chandler Fashion Center, the Intel campus, the development of Waymo self-driving cars and the emergence of the Price Road Corridor.
"We have the moniker the 'Innovation and Technology Hub of the Southwest," Tibshraeny likes to brag.
That's not even mentioning recent developments -- such as the City Council approving insurance giant All-State's expansion in Chandler with 2,500 jobs.
"2018 was a really good year for Chandler," Tibshraeny said.
This month, however, the mayor will hit the pause button on a three-decade career serving the area either as mayor, on the City Council or as a senator in the Arizona Legislature. But he'll still be involved in the area since the San Marcos district encompasses most of Chandler and Sun Lakes.
Plus, the new job will also give Tibshraeny a hat trick of experience in government, having served in executive, legislative and now judicial roles.
Tibshraeny talked about his decades serving Chandler.
"I never dreamed I'd be a seven-term mayor when I first ran for council," Tibshraeny said about the first election he entered in 1986. "I didn't quite know at that time what a quite fantastic ride it would be. But three decades later it's been a great thing for me to have in my life. I'm very blessed."
Albert Jay Tibshraeny Jr. has always lived in Chandler and said he's "never considered" living anywhere else. He was born in 1954 at a Mesa hospital when Chandler had none.
He was named after his late Lebanese father, whom he calls one of the two people who inspired him most, along with his mother. The family lived in what was then a farming community, when the population was just a few thousand, not hundreds of thousands.
A family member who helped develop some of Chandler's neighborhoods named Jay Street for the young Tibshraeny in the Tyson Manor subdivision. Tyson is named for one of Tibshraeny's cousins. There's also Tibshraeny Family Park near Cooper Road and Chandler Boulevard in northeast Chandler.
He graduated from Chandler High School in 1972, then moved to Arizona State for college to get his bachelor's in accounting in 1977.
After graduation, Tibshraeny worked for about a decade in the family's construction business, Tibshraeny Brothers Construction Co. He had no plans to go into politics at the time, but politics ended up coming to him.
Because of his work with the family business, he was recommended to sit on the Chandler Planning and Zoning Commission in 1980. City leaders began to take notice of his work on the commission, leading a few to urge the then-31-year-old Tibshraeny to run for the council in 1985 when outgoing Vice Mayor Wayne Lewis was leaving an open seat.
"There was no grand plan to run for council," Tibshraeny said. "There was an opportunity and a couple of people on council encouraged me to run. I think they liked my work on P&Z. There was no long, planned out thing. It just kind of happened."
Tibshraeny won that first election with more votes than anybody, including Jerry Brooks, Chandler's mayor at the time.
"In those early years, one of the first things that I kind of took charge of was the city finances," Tibshraeny said. "Because at the time, the finances were not real strong. Taking the lead in those in the late '80s, early '90s made sure Chandler could become the city it is."
After four years on the council, he was elected vice mayor in 1990, serving under Coy Payne, Arizona's first Black mayor.
Four years later, Tibshraeny was the only candidate to replace Payne as mayor, becoming the city's youngest mayor ever at 39 and earning the nickname "the Boy Mayor."
He was re-elected to two-year terms three more times before reaching the maximum of eight years in 2002. Eight years is the same term limit as now, but Chandler has since changed it to two four-year terms.
Either way, Tibshraeny was termed out by then and needed a new challenge.
That's when state government came calling. Voters in a newly created District 21, which served parts of Chandler and Queen Creek, elected Tibshraeny to the State Senate in 2002.
He stayed active in Chandler issues during his time at the state. He served as chairman for the city's Museum Advisory Board and was a big advocate for the development of the Price Corridor.
"At the time Motorola was closing and there was a lot of pressure for all the ground around it to go to residential," Tibshraeny said. "I was a loud voice on saying, 'No, that needs to be our premiere Price Corridor.' I've taken a lot of pride when I was on council and mayor the first time to keep the Price Corridor preserved for industrial and commercial and business and not apartment and houses."
He won re-election for his Senate seat through 2010, but he was once again termed out of a position.
However, with then-Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn facing a term limit himself, Tibshraeny figured it was a perfect time to get his old job back. He ran again unopposed in 2010 and won re-election in 2014.
As he looks back on all the ups and downs of the last 30 years -- Chandler's tremendous growth through two major recessions -- Tibshraeny said a long-term vision, transparency and economic development has led to Chandler's success.
"All-State was a really good get for Chandler," Tibshraeny said. "We wanted to start diversifying because we're already a powerhouse in the innovation and technology industries. This was an effort to further that but also diversify our economy."
Tibshraeny said he's also proud of his close involvement with neighborhood groups, including instituting a "Neighborhood Connect" program and the Mayor's Listening Tour series.
"We have a lot of new neighborhoods in Chandler, but we also have some that aren't so new," Tibshraeny said. "It's giving them attention and moving from high growth with a lot of new to sustaining what we have."
The "Neighborhood Connect" program gives residents a way to communicate with City Council leaders face to face.
"One of the first thing I did when I came back was get into one of the neighborhoods in Central Chandler and have a Listening Tour meeting," Tibshraeny said.
About 50 to 70 people would attend an average meeting. Tibshraeny would usually bring a guest, such as the police chief, to tell them what is going on in their neighborhoods.
"It was a good two-way dialogue and then we could follow up where need be," Tibshraeny said. "That was just another way to get out and place that mayor stamp of importance on this by being there and participating with them."
In general, the technological improvements in communication comprise the biggest change Tibshraeny lived through during his time serving Chandler since the 1980s. When he first joined, the city documented everything on paper for years before moving to a CD organization system. The city really didn't begin filling everything electronically until early this century.
"When I first got on council there was no email," Tibshraeny said. "There were just letters. Now 99 percent of our communication from our constituents alone comes through email. You shoot me an email, I can shoot you an email right back."
Tibshraeny also served at the beginning of the Twitter Revolution. He actively posts city happenings and announcements, but also leaves some room for fun fare like sports predictions and trivia, or even happy birthday shout outs, like the one to rocker Bruce Springsteen a few months ago.
"I enjoy it and it's a good way to communicate with followers," Tibshraeny said. "I try to do about 80 percent city stuff. But there's more to me than just my mayor's job. I am a person with a lot of varied interests."
That includes sports. Tibshraeny said he's a fan of all the local sports teams and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He's also served at times as a youth sports coach and doesn't hide his love for Chandler High's sports teams at the expense of Chandler's two other public high schools.
He's basically a homer at heart and admits he would have run for mayor again had he been allowed to.
"I love the job," he said. "It's something I enjoy doing -- working hard and moving Chandler forward."
Tibshraeny could have run for a City Council seat but decided to run unopposed for the four-year Justice of the Peace position instead. After that, however, plans are wide open.
"I think I'll run for something at some point in the future," Tibshraeny said. "I think I have one more. I'm not sure what that will be at this time. I think it'll be something on the state level."
One thing he's ruled out is attempting to take his mayor position back again for a third time because of his long working relationship with Mayor-elect Kevin Hartke.
"The new incoming mayor is a friend of mine and somebody I've worked closely with," Tibshraeny said.
The two are the longest-tenured members of the City Council. They will pass the gavel at the Jan. 10City Council meeting.
"At least I'll be continuing my service, but I'll certainly miss serving as mayor," Tibshraeny said.
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