Avondale's City Council chose Gloria Solorio as its newest council member after Councilmember Pat Dennis resigned last month.
Solorio, a longtime volunteer in the southwest Valley city, was among 13 applicants.
The City Council used an anonymous ranking system to narrow the pool to two men and two women, favoring those with experience on a city committee or board. They spent 20 minutes interviewing each at Monday's meeting.
Solorio was sworn in Monday and will serve through 2024, the remainder of Dennis's term.
Solorio said she's excited to serve her city in a new way. She also wants her constituents to know she is approachable.
"I live here, work here, play here."
A 10-year journey to council
Solorio, an Avondale resident since 2005, ran for City Council 10 years ago with little experience in city government.
That failure made her realize she need to get more involved. Most recently she served on the the city’s Neighborhood and Family Services Commission and the Volunteer Fire Department Pension Board. She also was appointed to the Board of Adjustment.
She also has served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and was a part of a citizens panel to hire a city manager in 2018.
"I've got all the tools in my toolbox," she said of that experience.
Apart from her volunteer positions with the city, Solorio works for the Hilton Garden Inn in Avondale.
She was hired as a front desk agent in 2006 and over the years has risen through the ranks and is now a housekeeping manager.
Solorio was furloughed in 2020 because of the pandemic but used her time to reach out to Councilmember Dennis about homelessness she saw her community experiencing.
"The response and her attention to detail and to get that figured out with (Police) Chief (Dale) Nanango and her was just impressive to me," she said.
When she heard about Dennis' resignation, it gave her the drive to try one more time.
A part of the community
Solorio spoke passionately during her interview about the city's growth and how she takes any chance she gets to attend the newest business opening or city event. She aims to support new businesses in the city that reached nearly 90,0000 residents in the 2020 U.S. Census, up from about 76,000 a decade earlier.
"You name it. You guys open it. I'm like the first person excited to be there," she said.
Solorio said it will be important for her to ask questions for the community when projects are brought to the council.
"The council comes together and hears ideas for the community and they have to then interpret that and dissect that" to determine what is best for the city, she said.
While pointing out what she loves about the city, Solorio also shared ideas on where to make some changes, including historic Avondale.
"It's nice to see the clean up that's happened," she said.
Solorio wants to see more signage, murals or art pieces go up to capture residents' attention to the area.
As the newest council member, she also will play a role in selecting a new leader to oversee city operations. The council fired City Manager Charles Montoya in December, citing issues from improperly seeking tuition reimbursement to not residing in the city as required.
Mayor Kenn Weiss said at the time that his first goal would be to replace Dennis, who cited personal reasons for resigning from the council, and then launch a national search for a new city manager.
Reporter Maritza Dominguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-271-0646. Follow her on Twitter @maritzacdom.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Meet the Phoenix area's newest city council member