MAG News

The U.S. has just invaded Cambodia. It’s near dawn. A young officer by the name of Skip Hall is roused from a sound sleep.

From War to Water: Surprise Mayor Has a Passion to Serve
Regional Profile: Mayor Skip Hall

RegionalCouncil, RegionalProfile

The U.S. has just invaded Cambodia. It’s near dawn. A young officer by the name of Skip Hall is roused from a sound sleep. 

“At 3 o’clock in the morning, I get a knock on my hooch door saying, ‘we’re going to convert all the money.’”

The Vietnam War veteran explains that he was “one of the first guys into Cambodia” after the invasion because he was responsible for paying U.S. soldiers in military “script.” He calls it “Monopoly money,” with the biggest bill a $20 bill.  “We actually had a nickel bill,” he recalls with a laugh.

Less pleasant are memories of serving through two “conversion days” during his time in Vietnam. He explains how when an amount of military script estimated to be of significance fell into Vietnamese hands, the script was converted to a new script series. 

“So all of the money that was existing in Vietnam that was in script would be bogus at 3 o’clock in the morning. And we would issue a new series to all half-million guys. All of the Vietnamese nationals who illegally held military script for being paid for whatever they did, well, they were out of luck. They were stuck with worthless money. It was really something, and I went through two of those.”

Hall’s outstanding service earned him the Bronze Star. That spirit of service is what still drives him today.

“I think for anybody who gets into public office, service needs to be in the front of their minds—how they can serve other people. If you don’t have that service mentality—you probably shouldn’t be in public office,” says Hall.

Mayor Hall honors the winner of the Surprise Police Department Bike Rodeo drawingHall first came to Surprise in 2003 in what he calls “retirement mode” but wanting to do something to give back to the community. He served on the planning and zoning commission for three years before running for city council on a recall election. He served that term and was elected three more times. In November, he was unanimously selected by the Surprise City Council to serve as Mayor of Surprise to fill a vacancy left by former Mayor Sharon Wolcott. 

With a background in the hospitality and real estate industries, Hall says he is proudest of contributing to the financial stability and sustainability of the city. He started on the council in 2008 during the recession, and has helped the city gain its fiscal footing.

“We are in a very good financial situation now, we have more than $20 million in reserve in our general fund and our enterprise funds are doing well, so we’re in good shape and we need to maintain that financial vigilance in the future,” he says.

Mayor Hall cites his love of numbers as one reason for his success.

“I’m just not afraid of numbers. There are a lot of people who look at a page of numbers and they just go, “oh, man, that’s all confusing,” and their brain just kind of turns off. Mine doesn’t. I just break it all out and get involved, probably because I’ve looked at a lot of them over my career. It’s fun for me.” 

Hall has also found another passion that tops his agenda for his community: water conservation.  He spends a lot of time thinking about the future access and availability of water to support people and businesses in the West Valley.

“Our projected growth is quite significant and we need to be very vigilant in terms of both our conservation efforts and our augmentation of supply,” says Mayor Hall, who uses every opportunity to help spread the word about the importance of water conservation. Hall says many residents don’t realize that the biggest culprits aren’t found in the kitchen or bath.

Mayor Hall presents books to an elementary school classroom following their Literacy Challenge win. “Most of our water usage is outside of the dwelling, either swimming pools or landscaping,” says Hall. 

The city has hired a city conservation expert who will help bring a conservation curriculum to local classrooms, and is now working with homeowners associations across his community to discuss tactics for reducing the amount of gallons used per capita.

“We have decreased our usage, but we need to do better. We can do more,” says Hall. “If we attack the landscaping part and look for opportunities for drought-tolerant plants, use better timers, provide rebates for water-saving devices, and other techniques, we can conserve water,” says Mayor Hall. 

 

Published January 28, 2019

About MAG

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Title VI

Title VI requires that no person in the United States of America shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity for which MAG receives federal financial assistance.

Get in Touch

  • Address: 302 N. 1st Ave., Suite 300
    Phoenix, Arizona 85003

  • Phone: (602) 254-6300

  • FAX: (602) 254-6490

  • Email: mag@azmag.gov