LI Grad Interview: Mother of four, Politico, Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board Chairman
Meet distinguished Leadership Institute graduate Anna Clark.
I recently interviewed Anna to learn how she got interested in Parks and Recreation, how her Leadership Institute training helps her serve in public office, and her take on the current state of politics.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Anna Clark. I reside in Oro Valley, AZ, and have been a Republican my entire life. I have been married for almost 18 years and am the mother of four sons, ages 15, 12, 10, and 8.
I am the Chairman of the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board, the 2nd Vice Chairman of the Pima County Republican Party, and the 3rd Vice-Chairman of Arizona's 11th Legislative District Republican Party. As of 3 weeks ago, I am managing a Congressional Campaign for a candidate running in AZ's 1st Congressional District.
You currently are a member of the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. How did you get involved with Parks and Recreation, and what does your position involve?
I have lived in Oro Valley on and off since I was 16 and have been a permanent resident for six years. While I was in high school, I worked for the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Department as part of their Summer and Spring Break Camps. I loved working with the kids and learned that good Parks and Recreation programs are necessary for a thriving community.
Fast forward 20-something years, and after being very involved in getting our mayor elected in 2018, I sought ways to get involved in my community. I chose the Parks Board because of my unique perspective.
Not only did I grow up in Oro Valley and work for the parks department, but I have four sons who use the Oro Valley Parks systems and programs regularly. So, I know our community needs, and I wanted to bring my ideas to help create a robust parks and recreation plan that includes youth, retirees, and everyone in between that live in Oro Valley.
I have been on the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Board (PRAB) since January 2019. In February 2021, I was elected as the Chairman of the Board. The most important responsibility we have as members of the Oro Valley PRAB is to advise the Town Council in matters pertaining to parks and recreation, parks design, open space, trail use, and recreation programs.
What is one challenge you have faced during your time as a Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member, and how did you overcome it?
Being the Chairman of any board can present a myriad of challenges. This last year, our board was tasked with building and passing a 10-year parks master plan for the Town of Oro Valley. As you can imagine, this plan was full of some great ideas and some not-so-great ideas that had to be removed.
The biggest challenge I faced was dealing with how to fund these parks projects. I believe that we should not raise taxes to pay for parks. It was challenging to get some of the other board members to vote for a master plan without any new taxes.
With the team building and collaboration skills I learned from LI, we passed the Parks Master Plan last month with a 7-0 vote, a unanimous vote. This victory included recommending to the town council that we do not raise taxes to pay for the plan.
How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service?
You know that saying, "Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten"? Well, everything that I needed to know to be a successful candidate, campaign manager, and leader within the Republican Party and in my community, I learned from the Leadership Institute! I have taken so many classes through LI that have been invaluable to me.
Many people seem disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?
In December 2020, I was elected the 2nd Vice-Chairman of the Pima County Republican Party here in Arizona. As part of my new post, I hear Republicans complain quite a bit about not only the state of our nation but the state of things here in VERY liberal Pima County.
The best advice I give them, whether they are complaining about the Democrats in control or elected Republicans they disagree with, is to get involved with the party. Complaining about things on social media or to your friends does nothing to help your cause. The first step is to become a precinct committeeman and get involved with the grassroots in your community.
Unhappy with how things are going in your city or town? Run for office and be the change! Don't like what the Republican Party is doing in your county or legislative district? Get elected to a leadership position and be the change that you want to see within the party. The bottom line is the time for inaction is over. We must get involved and fight for the very soul of our nation!
We see this across the state of Arizona. Since my taking office, our Precinct Committeeman numbers in Pima county alone have grown from 347 to 615 and counting. There are some months that we are outpacing the Democrats in Precinct Committeeman and voter registration!
This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities.