City Hall

Records: Sal DiCiccio Went to Council Office 29 Days in 2018, Debra Stark Went 155

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio City of Phoenix
Phoenix public employees buzz into the main City Council offices on the 11th floor of City Hall with personalized identification badges. A computer logs the entry each time someone holds their card up against the door reader.

And that's how we know Council member Sal DiCiccio buzzed into his City Hall office 29 days in 2018, fewer than any of his colleagues on the dais.

Compare DiCiccio with Debra Stark, who buzzed into the office 155 days over the same period, the most among Phoenix's eight council members. In an email to Phoenix New Times, Stark called herself a "hands on" Council member and said she works better in the office.

Council member Debra Stark - CITY OF PHOENIX
Council member Debra Stark
City of Phoenix
Describing her day-to-day activities, Stark said: "First and foremost, I review emails, letters and telephone messages from constituents (both residents and businesses) to see how my staff and I can assist them. Additionally, in order to stay well informed, I have standing meetings with Planning, Parks, Street Transportation, Police, the Mayor, the City Manager and the Deputy City Managers on district issues (as well as city issues). Before formal Council meetings, I get briefed by staff on various agenda items."

DiCiccio, meanwhile, showed up to his office on even fewer occasions than council members who didn't serve for the full year.

Vania Guevara and Felicita Mendoza were appointed last year to fill in for Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela, both of whom resigned from the council to run for mayor.

Guevara and Mendoza buzzed into the office 77 and 70 days, respectively, from their starting days in August through the last day of December. Gallego and Valenzuela buzzed in 114 and 63 days, respectively.

A Republican who represents the southernmost district in Phoenix, DiCiccio has been criticized for frequently calling in to formal City Council meetings rather than showing up in person. The council held formal or policy meetings on 40 days in 2018, 11 more than the number of days DiCiccio went to City Hall.

DiCiccio did not respond to a request for comment. He and all other Phoenix council members earn $61,600 annually.

Laura Pastor, the council member with the second-poorest office attendance while serving the full year, still went to City Hall more than twice the number of days as DiCiccio, according to records. She buzzed into the office on 65 days of the year.

In a statement, Pastor said that she did not always use her own badge to enter the Council office.

"That is either a member of my staff accompanying me to meetings or the security detail at the door allowing me access to the floor without me using my badge," Pastor said. "Therefore, badging data might not be the best source for information about when our Council is in the building."

Pastor also had a personal emergency that contributed to her office attendance dropping in December. Her father, former Congressman Ed Pastor, died following a heart attack on November 28.

"I think it is important to consider how incredibly busy it is for anyone who loses a family member so unexpectedly," she said. "It was no different for me and my family, except that my Father was a notable figure in our community, state, and country. I can assure you that his passing did not slow things down for my family and me. If anything, we were likely busier than ever."

Pastor, who represents District 4, sent New Times a copy of her public calendar for December, which shows Council-related events on most weekdays.

New Times obtained employee badge data for every city council member, as well as mayors, for 2018.

Former Mayor Greg Stanton, who resigned on May 29, 2018, to run for Congress, only buzzed in on 18 days over the course of the year. That's because mayors are escorted through City Hall by security details and usually have guards buzz them through restricted areas, according to city spokesperson Nickolas Valenzuela.

Council member Thelda Williams, for example, buzzed in a total of 83 days over the year, but her employee badge logs dropped considerably during the time she filled in as interim mayor after Stanton resigned.

Here's everyone who served on the Phoenix City Council in 2018 and the number of days they buzzed in to City Hall:

District 1 Council member Thelda Williams (Assumed office of mayor on May 29, 2018): 83

District 2 Council member Jim Waring: 88

District 3 Council member Debra Stark: 155

District 4 Council member Laura Pastor: 65

Former District 5 Council member Daniel Valenzuela (Resigned July 16, 2018): 63

Former District 5 Council member Vania Guevara (Appointed on August 1, 2018): 77

District 6 Council member Sal DiCiccio: 29

District 7 Council member Michael Nowakowski: 127

Former District 8 Council member Kate Gallego (Resigned August 7, 2018): 114

Former District 8 Council member Felicita Mendoza (Appointed on August 21, 2018): 70
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Steven Hsieh was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from August 2018 to April 2020.
Contact: Steven Hsieh