George Renner is an Arizona native and former Mayor of Glendale. He was appointed to the CAWCD Board of Directors in 1992 and was then twice elected, serving through 2006, serving both as secretary and president.
George Renner: A life of service
(The story below is built around a recorded interview.)
Arizona native George Renner joined his father in real estate and insurance in 1972. He never really thought of himself as a politician, even when he was asked to serve on a Chamber of Commerce Committee in his town, and then later elected to the chamber board.
His roles evolved, and after serving on several boards, he was selected to fill a vacancy on the Glendale City Council, which he discovered he enjoyed. After serving two years, he was re-elected in 1978 and then turned his efforts to running for Mayor. He held that office from 1980 until 1992.
“It was extremely interesting, challenging, rewarding,” said Renner. “It was a wonderful opportunity and I was extremely blessed to be in office at a time with lots of other very dedicated and talented people, both fellow elected officers and staff people, and it was really very enjoyable.”
During his tenure, Glendale was transitioning from a small town into a city, more than quadrupling its population during that time. And with it came many challenges and opportunities. One of the biggest was related to water, namely the Groundwater Management Act and the construction of Central Arizona Project.
“At the local level, Glendale specifically, we had to recognize and deal with the issue of water treatment. CAP is not like well water that comes up. CAP water had to be treated. So we were faced with a decision of timing,” Renner said. “Do you decide to build your treatment facility before all of these issues are solved, funding of the CAP, timing of it and so forth, because part of the Groundwater Management Act required you to deal with renewable supplies.”
The solution was a bond issue to build a water treatment facility for water that was yet to be delivered. Thankfully, it worked out well.
“That’s probably the single most graphic illustration I can recall as how intertwined the water, the authorization of the construction, its continued funding and ultimate completion,” said Renner.
Renner’s involvement in the community…and water…wasn’t over. He served on Governor Fife Symington’s water advisory committee created to respond to the issue of financing and repaying Arizona’s obligation to the federal government. And in 1992, Governor Symington appointed Renner to fill a vacancy on the CAWCD Board of Directors.
“As soon as my term as Mayor had expired, there was a vacancy at the time on the (CAWCD) Board and he appointed me in ’92,” said Renner.
He was re-elected in 1994 and 2000, serving a total of 14 years. Renner said it was a fascinating time, including work on repayment issues, groundwater recharge, Yuma Desalting Plant, and drought to name a few. He said it was extremely rewarding to work on issues that are so impactful to the state.
“The Central Arizona Project has evolved into being one of the most articulate and influential participants in the Colorado River discussions,” said Renner. “And I think it is to Arizona’s benefit, because the CAP advocates not just for CAP’s share, the one and a half million acre feet, but in so doing, we are advocating for Arizona’s share.”