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Why the Phoenix council vote to name the transit hub was controversial

A Phoenix city councilwoman is upset over her colleagues’ moves to name a new downtown transit center after a former mayor. 

Councilwoman Laura Pastor thinks it should be named after her late father, Congressman Ed Pastor.

Pastor, who was instrumental in securing federal funds for light rail and other major projects, served 23 years before retiring in 2014. The city named a south Phoenix transit center after Pastor 20 years ago.

During Wednesday’s council meeting, Laura Pastor said there's been talk of redeveloping the Pastor center and transferring his name to the new downtown hub. 

“I did not ask for it. I was told by staff and community that that was going to happen and those conversations were with the South Central Collaborative, along with the artists that toured that space. So I want to get real and frank and quit dancing around the questions,” she said.

Deputy City Manager Mario Paniagua acknowledged the new hub’s name had been talked about and pointed out, “Any discussions about that have been purely informal discussions. And, with acknowledgement, that that is a council a city council decision. That's not something that any staff member can promise would happen.”

By a 7-2 vote, members approved starting the process to name the downtown hub after former Mayor and current Congressman Greg Stanton, a public transportation advocate. Councilwoman Betty Guardado joined Pastor in voting no.

A memo signed by Mayor Kate Gallego, Vice Mayor Debra Stark, and Councilmembers Carlos Galinda-Elvira and Jim Waring, requested the item be added to the agenda. It said, in part:

“In 2015, while campaigning for a second term, then Mayor Stanton also campaigned to increase and extend the dedicated funding source for the 35-year transportation package. It’s not typical for elected officials to push for a sales tax increase as they seek re-election, but voters said yes to both Stanton and his transportation agenda.”

The city’s heritage commissionwill gather public input and send a recommendation to the council for a final vote. 

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.