Editor's note: This report first appeared in the Aug. 8, 2018 edition of the Arizona Silver Belt. Gameros and a contingency of Globe staff members made the trip to Phoenix last week to attend the luncheon.
Globe Mayor Al Gameros will have his plate full on Sept. 7, because he will be in Phoenix at an awards luncheon to accept an award at Valle del Sol’s 28th Annual Hispanic Leadership Awards Celebration luncheon.
Gameros was recently recognized with an Exemplary Leadership Award after his nomination by Maryn Belling, who graduated from the Hispanic Leadership Institute in 2016.
“Al Gameros is an exemplary leader of the City of Globe,” Belling wrote in the nomination form. “In addition to working well with his constituents, city council, city staff, and leaders of other communities, Mayor Gameros truly lives his values. On Sunday mornings, you can find Al, his wife Irene, and sometimes their grandchildren Brooklyn and Braxton (aka Juice) at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Miami.”
The Exemplary Leadership Award “gives special recognition to an individual for his/her significant philanthropic contributions, support for a nonprofit organization, and community development.”
Gameros was specifically recognized for his work bringing several nonprofits together to open a new domestic violence shelter after he learned that the state would no longer provide funding to maintain the shelter after 20 years of operation.
After months of meeting with state and local officials, as well as the San Carlos Apache Tribe and a plethora of nonprofits, a new shelter was created, and Gameros was even the keynote speaker at the Hats Off for Domestic Violence fundraiser earlier this year.
To Gameros, though, he is more a facilitator than a hero, and he is more than happy to stay in the background and let others take credit for getting things done.
“(Councilmember) Lerry Alderman did so much to make the new shelter happen,” Gameros said. “I am extremely fortunate to work with a council, staff and employees that make things happen within our community.”
Humility is a big part of Gamero’s persona, as he has been a leader in the Globe community for decades.
A product of Miami — he was born there in April 1956 — Gameros began his career at the mines after he graduated from Miami High School. He found his career path when volunteering with the Central Heights Volunteer Fire Department.
He was eventually hired by the Globe Fire Department, spending 29 and one-half years there before his retirement in February 2016, the final 18 years as chief.
Towards the end of his time at the department, he spent two years as interim city manager, under the tutelage of former city manager Brent Billingsly.
“As fire chief, I had to go to council meetings for 18 years and that sparked an interest,” Gameros said. “After my time as city manager, I wanted to continue to serve.”
His desire to serve his community deepened after his daughter was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 15. Gameros and his wife Irene were deeply touched by the community support they received.
“I’m truly fortunate,” he said. “The community was very supportive of me and my family and it was amazing working with the nonprofits.”
He was chosen as Globe’s citizen of the year in 2014 and currently serves as Chair of the Central Arizona Governments, representing 26 cities including those throughout the Copper Corridor.
His biggest challenge on city council has been convincing people about the need for change.
“Change is difficult, but change is good,” Gameros said. “People have to be open to new ideas.”
Under Gameros’ leadership, there have been joint meetings of the Globe and Miami councils and he feels as if his biggest success has been getting organizations to communicate with each other.
“I have to credit my wife Irene,” he said. “My motivation comes from my family. You need that.”
He also credits the “amazing city council that cares about the community” as the city prepares to launch long-term marketing plans for economic development.
“We’ve never really invested in economic development and marketing,” Gameros said. “We need to look down the road and can’t be afraid to invest that money. I wish we would have done it 10 years ago. We need to invest and plant the seed now and be patient.”
When it comes down to it though, Gamero’s leadership is not about Mayor Al Gameros, it is about being a facilitator for the long-term health of the community and setting up for a future that he may not even be alive to see.
“It’s not about control, it’s about taking a lead,” he said. “When people get into a position of power, sometimes they change. You have to approach people with humility and respect.”
The 28th Annual Hispanic Leadership Awards Celebration takes place at the Phoenix Convention Center, North Ballroom on Friday, Sept. 7 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Funds raised from the event benefit Valle del Sol, an organization that “inspires positive change by investing in health and human services to strengthen families with tools and skills for self-sufficiency and by building the next generation of Latino and diverse leaders.”