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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Community-Minded Vera Eyeing Council Seat

David Vera spent 33 years with the Phoenix Fire Department first as a fire fighter, retiring as a deputy chief.

“We don’t get invited to weddings and christenings, we do get invited to the knife and gun club on weekends,” he said joking about the life of a firefighter, paramedic.“We really do meet people at the most critical times and you provide the best service you know how to give,” he said. “My life has been about service to the community regardless of a person’s purchasing power, I’ve never done any wallet biopsies or checked to see if they belong to the right club. If they need help, I was there to help them.”

Now Vera is seriously considering running for Phoenix City Council, District 8, in 2013 when Michael Johnson terms out.

“I am exploring the possibility to see what is possible. There are things to look into like resources and support. There is still time,” he said.

He said he believes he would be a good city councilman because of his history of public service.

“My worth, my value is through helping other folks in the community. That has great value to me,” he said.

And he has already had a taste about how things work at the city level.

During his career with the fire department he served as a district commander in the South Mountain District that was about 120 square miles containing about 130,000 people, serving as an assistant to Mayor Skip Rimsza.

“That whetted my appetite,” he said.

Among his duties were developing budgets and programs and helping determine where to place new fire stations in accordance with the growth of the city and buying land for them.

“You get a chance to speak before city council subcommittees. You get a chance to see how they operate and make their decisions based on the information provided by city staff or fire department staff,” he said.

He said he enjoyed meeting with the public giving them opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas about having a fire station in their neighborhood addressing issues from the noise of the sirens to having a commercial building in their neighborhoods.

“Working with them to make something happen in their community was pretty exciting,” he said. 

Vera has deep roots in the community. He has lived in the South Mountain Area since 1958 when he was 9 years old.

He went to Phoenix schools, his elementary education in the Roosevelt School District. He played football at St. Mary’s High School.

“The year after I graduated they won the state championship for three years. They did very well,” he said.

He went to ASU and earned his bachelors degree in political science and then on the NAU for his masters in Education.

One of seven children, one of his brothers was born a Phoenix native, the rest were born in Missouri. His father was an auto mechanic and his mother worked in the office of tourism.

“Education was highly stressed and being of service to others was the other part of the mantra they gave us,” he said. “My mother is still with us at 85 years old, still teaching piano. 

“I have a wonderful wife of 37 years, Frances, a fifth generation Arizona native,” he said.

The couple has four children. The oldest is 36 and a graduate of Harvard. He is a developer in Phoenix. His next son, 33, is a Dartmouth graduate is now is waiting to hear from Harvard Law. Their 26-year-old daughter is a hairdresser in Phoenix and the youngest is married and working for TSA. They have a 14-year-old grandson.

He said that Phoenix, just like just about every other city in the nation, took a lot of direct hits during the economic recession.

“We have gone through some tough economic times and a lot of services have been taken away or deleted,” he said. “I think we need to get back some things. Library hours were cut, recreation was taken away. We need to make sure our kids and our seniors are taken care of while making sure our infrastructure is good.”

Economically, he said things are starting to look up. “Tax revenue is a little better. We are looking a little better,” he said.

Right at the moment, he is retired, but he rides his bicycle every morning for about 15 miles. He enjoys listening to all types of music.

He remains on the board of Valle Del Sol, a 40-year-old non-profit concentrating on behavioral health issues.

He was past chairman of the organization.

Vera is active in another non-profit that buys homes and fixes them up for seniors who can live in them for discounted rent. In the past five years since it began, it has refurbished 11 homes for low-income seniors.

On the personal side, he and Frances are undergoing a complete renovation on their home.

“That’s been an experience,” he said. “We are expanding our home, adding a few amenities like a craft room for my wife. We are empty nesters and we had been trying to decide, do we stay here? Do we move? We decided we loved the community. It his home.“


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