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  • Planning Director to receive prestigious public service award

    Aug 28, 2013 | Read More News
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    Arlan Colton, planning director with Pima County Development Services, will be honored with a Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Award at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns annual meeting on Thursday, Aug. 29.

    Arlan ColtonColton will receive the Civic Engagement award from the Arizona We Want Institute, an initiative of the Center for the Future of Arizona. The Center is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to help Arizonans shape and define the future through an action-oriented agenda focused on issues and topics critical to the state.

    Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards will also go to Betsey Bayless, president and CEO of Maricopa Integrated Health System, who will receive the Leadership award; and James Glen Jayne, manager of Navajo County, who will receive the Innovation award.

    Colton has dedicated almost his entire 30-plus-year career to public service, focused in the area of land use, planning, conservation and creation of community. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Arizona. He became Pima County’s planning director in 2004.

    “Arlan is passionate about the application of his land use planning expertise to assure that our State balances its economic, environmental, and social concerns while promoting land uses that address our societal needs,” said John M. Bernal, Deputy County Administrator for Public Works. “He is fair-minded and compassionate in assuring a long term sustainable community that is responsive to the broader public interest.”

    “Arlan’s planning expertise and contributions at the local, regional and state level are unmatched,” said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “Pima County is extremely fortunate to have someone of Arlan’s caliber leading the effort this year to update the County’s long-range plan.”

    Colton’s nomination highlights that his “personality, character and time in our community have changed the platform for discussion around land use issues to encourage informed, engaged decision-making and connection of citizens to the process.”

    “Arlan works tirelessly to improve the quality of life in the state and Tucson region,” the nomination says. “His passion for community building is inspirational and contagious. His intellectual curiosity and self-confidence make him comfortable with engaging opposing viewpoints. A debate on the relative merits of an issue is commonplace in Arlan’s world, and he makes those around him comfortable as it occurs. His clear and undisputed motivation is to make this a better community for future generations.”

    Among his many accomplishments, Colton was key at the Arizona State Land Department in fine-tuning and implementing the Arizona Preserve Initiative, which was a revolutionary change to how the agency addresses open space and that led to successful permanent conservation of more than 16,000 acres. His efforts helped change a century-old management structure to one that embraces conservation goals. A founding board member of Imagine Greater Tucson, Colton is a proponent involving citizens to achieve productive change. He also inspires others to be involved in public service and was integral in establishing a University of Arizona graduate planning degree mentorship program.

    The awards are named in honor of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' director of community outreach who lost his life on Jan. 8, 2011, while serving the citizens of Arizona. "These exemplary public servants represent the spirit of service to the public by which Gabe Zimmerman lived his life," Dr. Lattie Coor, chairman and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona, said. "They represent the best of the more than 100,000 professional public servants working at all levels of Arizona government."

    Nominees were judged on their qualities and achievements – how they have changed the way government works to serve the public interest; capability to take risks and inspire others; impact on connecting Arizonans to the civic health of their community; new ideas to improve cost, efficiency and delivery of public service; and legacy contribution of lasting significance.

    With support from the Zimmerman family, the 2013 Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards are sponsored by the Center for the Future of Arizona, the Arizona Department of Administration, the County Supervisors Association of Arizona, the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., and the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.