Making Phoenix better has been the central focus of Phil Gordon’s life for more than two decades. Born in Chicago on April 18, 1951 to Sid and Judy Gordon, he is the oldest of three children and the only one to venture in to the public service arena. In 1959, the Gordon family left Illinois and moved to Phoenix where Phil attended Madison Meadows Elementary and Middle School and Central High School. Majoring in education, he attended the University of Arizona and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history education. With his career path still undecided, Gordon entered Arizona State University School of Law and graduated cum laude.
A schoolteacher, lawyer, small businessman and a longtime leader in the movement to revitalize and preserve central Phoenix – Gordon served on the Madison Elementary School Board and as the chief of staff to Mayor Skip Rimsza before seeking public office in 1997. As a two-term City Council member, Gordon spearheaded Shannon’s Law, making it a felony to randomly discharge a firearm within city limits. He also co-founded and chaired the Slumlord Task Force, which produced legislation to aid in the fight against neglectful and criminal landlords.
Gordon was elected Mayor of Phoenix on September 9, 2003, with 72 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in September 2007, with 77 percent of the vote. Well-known for his energy – and his love for coffee – Gordon focused his administration on three top priorities: Public safety, education and jobs. Under his leadership, the City increased public safety spending to 60 percent of its annual budget, adding hundreds of new police officers and firefighters. A new crime lab has been opened and new precincts have been added. In August 2010, the Phoenix crime rate reached a 20-year low, according to FBI statistics. Gordon’s leadership in the education sector led to unprecedented public-private partnerships and the evolution of downtown Phoenix into a hub of education activity. Now home to Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, downtown also features a biomedical campus housing the Translational Genomics Research Institute and other cutting-edge researchers. Elsewhere on the education front, Phoenix has invested in small high schools to prepare students for careers in fields like public safety and nursing, and helped create the Green Phoenix Learning Center, a charter high school and adult learning center focused on green jobs of the future. Among Gordon’s other primary accomplishments as Mayor: Unveiling and implementing a 17-point Green Phoenix plan to make Phoenix the first carbon-neutral city in the United States. The 2009 plan, endorsed by the U.S. Secretary of Energy, has led the City toward new “clean energy” projects like America’s largest solar landfill, capable of powering more than 50,000 homes upon completion in 2013. Launching the City’s light rail system in December 2008. The initial 20 mile Metro system has far exceeded ridership estimates and now serves nearly 1 million riders each month. The Sky Train airport extension project, currently under construction, will connect light rail to Sky Harbor airport beginning in 2012. The revitalization of downtown Phoenix, which has brought more than $4 billion in investment to the City’s core under Gordon’s leadership. Even in a down economy, the heart of the city saw the Phoenix Convention Center triple in size, two new downtown hotels open, the opening of the $950 million CityScape tower and the passage of an $878-million bond program.
As Mayor, Gordon also built a stronger international presence for global opportunities in business and investment. His “bridge building” business and development trips have included Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Canada, China, Japan and Mexico. Gordon continues to meet regularly with business delegations visiting Phoenix from around the world. One highlight of his administration came in 2008, when Gordon was named the Best Mayor in North America by the London-based World Mayors Project. Other awards and recognitions include: • Most Valuable Person of the Year (2003) – American Subcontractors’ Association of Arizona • Man of the Year (2003) – Men Against Domestic Violence • DREAMR Public Sector Award (2004) – Downtown Phoenix Partnership • Distinguished Achievement Award (2006) – ASU College of Design • Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award (2007) – Phoenix Urban League • DREAMR Visionary Award (2008) – Downtown Phoenix Partnership • Exemplary Leadership Award (2008) – Arizona Latino Research Enterprise • Alumni Hall of Fame (2008) – Phoenix College • Best of Phoenix Award: “Best Politician” (2008) – Phoenix New Times • Hero of Education Award (2010) – Maricopa Community College District • Graciela Alvarez Award (2010) – La Raza National Council • Skyscraper Award (2011) – Phoenix Community Alliance • Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (2011) • Humanitarian Award (2011) – State of Sonora / City of Hermosillo, Mexico • Public Official of the Year (2011) – National Association of Social Workers.
Gordon also served as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Task Force on Comprehensive Immigration Reform and, in August 2010, was appointed to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee. He has been chair of the Arizona Child Occupant Protection Task Force, the task force charged with establishing the standards for instructors/technicians for the coordinating child occupant protection programs for the state. He has been chair of the Men’s Anti-Violence Network and also served on the Voice for Crime Victims Board, an organization that preserves and protects constitutional rights of crime victims. He is past chairman of the Neighborhood Block Watch Grant Committee, Central City Village Planning Committee, Phoenix Planning Commission and the Downtown Village Planning Committee. He also served as member of the board for the Orpheum Theatre Foundation, Downtown YMCA, Phoenix Ballet Company and Roosevelt Action Association. Gordon also served as a thought leader on the Chrysalis Shelters Advisory Board. Under Gordon’s leadership as Mayor, Phoenix was dubbed “A 21st Century City” and was named an “All-American City” for the fifth time in its history. Gordon is the father of four children.