ABOUT DANIEL VALENZUELA
Daniel is from a family of six, raised for the most part by a single mom, and during some of those years, by a dad who was never able to overcome the demons of alcoholism. He lost both of his parents before he was 21. And a brother to AIDS before that.
So he struggled. And moved around – a lot. The Alhambra neighborhood for a few months. The Garfield neighborhood for about a year. And when times were real tough, his grandmother’s in The Duppa Villa housing project. Moving frequently meant attending different schools. In fact, 13 different schools in all. A NEW school just about every year. NEW teachers. NEW classmates.
The need to make a NEW set of friends, leaving behind friends made sometimes just months earlier, only to repeat the experience again…. and again...and again. Yet with all of those challenges, his family got by. What made the difference was the help they got along the way.
However, it wasn’t surprising that all of this took its toll on his mom. When she collapsed on the kitchen floor one day when Daniel was in his teens, those firefighters who responded left a lasting impression on him. With his mother’s life in their hands, she and they also provided him with a life changing experience. That maybe he TOO could become a firefighter, and do for someone else’s Mom what they did for her that day, giving her a few more years of life.
Through his Mom, those firefighters showed him the way. A way out. And, a way up.
Today, Daniel is a firefighter, and has been for 16 years. Other than being a husband and father, nothing, -- including being an elected official – has given him MORE satisfaction than being a firefighter. Being on the frontline of reality as a firefighter has taught Daniel many things. That giving up is never an option. A deep appreciation for the fragility of life. And most importantly – that fire, accidents, and tragedies don’t discriminate regardless of age race, gender, religion, income, or sexual orientation. Firefighters have to be there.
Being a Firefighter has made him a better Councilmember, further instilling in him the importance and value of service. That unique service to the community that makes his firefighter brothers and sisters that special breed.
Daniel can’t BEGIN to describe the pure joy it is for him to hand OUT toys at one of our toy drives, each time recalling the times when he stood in line as a child at a toy drive with the fear, fortunately never realized, that by the time he got to the front of the line, all the toys would be gone.
When Daniel first ran for Phoenix City Council, he found himself knocking on the doors of some of those homes where he spent maybe only a few months growing up. Although the years have passed, he found that the needs and desires -- the dreams and aspirations -- of those who now live in those homes today hasn’t changed all that much.
They want safe neighborhoods, good schools, and good paying jobs. With each of those visits came a heightened sense that Daniel might have the opportunity to help them and others pursue their dreams. In fact, a responsibility to do so. By bringing people together -- and by being a problem solver -- that’s just what he has done in City Hall.