I Heart Fountain Hills Interviews Jay Schlum -
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Jay for an interview for our ‘i heart’ series of blog posts about people within our community we truly like and think you should get to know as well.
Shortly after we started I Heart Fountain Hills, we received an e-mail from none other than the former Fountain Hills Mayor, Jay Schlum. He wanted to meet in person to thank us for bringing the community together. We were taken back by how friendly Jay is and how much he genuinely loves Fountain Hills. As you will see, he is very involved in the community and in our eyes acts as an “ambassador” of this amazing town we live in.
For those of you that don’t already know and love Jay Schlum, here is a chance to get to know a little more about him.
Just how involved in the community is he, you ask?:
- Raised in Fountain Hills from the age of 12
- Member of the Planning and Zoning Commission from 1999 to 2004
- Fountain Hills Town Councilman from 2004 to 2008
- Mayor of Fountain Hills from 2008-2012
- Real Estate Agent at Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate – The Jay & Dori Team
- Co-Chair of the Community Outreach and Awareness Committee for the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors
- Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce Board Member
- Recently Elected Chairman of the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (Starting July 1st)
- Vice President of Four Peaks Rotary
- Mentor with Fountain Hills Mentoring for a local elementary school student
- Organizes the Tuesday Sunrise Hike on Lake Overlook Trail – Some call “The Jay Walkers”
1. Tell us why you HEART Fountain Hills?
I like the small town vibe and character. It’s a community where everyone can be heard and make a difference. Everyone tends to work together regardless of ideology in a small town. Also, people are typically welcoming here in Fountain Hills, in fact we hear that from our clients frequently. We are also big on our volunteers here in Fountain Hills. The town wasn’t even a municipality until ‘89, so our character came from volunteers such as service organizations like the Rotary and Kiwanis. And, it goes without saying, that this is a safe place.
What differentiates us is being one of the only small towns in the valley that is close to the airport. It’s only 25 minutes to Sky Harbor Airport. The other things are obvious, our communities beautiful setting, its small town character and so much more. I love asking people how they found Fountain Hills and half say they were just driving by to visit friends and then they came over the hill at Shea and Palisades and just knew this was where they wanted to live. It’s just gorgeous! It’s beautiful and yet it’s convenient. It’s right next to the mecca of shopping and the resort capital of the world – Scottsdale, which is just right over the hill.
Another reason I love Fountain Hills is that I have roots here. My folks brought us here and my boy was born here, so he is a native. It’s such a new town but we are starting to grow some roots. Everyone thinks back home is Boston or Minnesota, but now Fountain Hills is becoming home and there are some traditions starting. For example, the High School sports program now has some great traditions, like the community celebrated Homecoming Parade, now multiple families and generations are involved and it is only gonna get better in that respect.
So, beauty is huge, safety is huge as well as the welcoming nature and being able to make a difference and add to the community in your own special way. A great example of why I love Fountain Hills is the Greening Committee , and how we have people on a national level that are right wing and left wing, but we are all working together because we love our town. I think that’s great, being a non-partisan community.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
I met Denise while we attended Northern Arizona University. I studied Business and Denise graduated with a BS in Food and Nutrition in Business. We were married December 1987 at Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church. Denise works with special needs children at Fountain Hills High School and also works at The Fountains Church and Copperwynd Spa.
Our daughter Carly is 21 years old and a 2011 Graduate from Fountain Hills High School. Carly serves as an Airman 1st Class in the US Air Force and is a Medical Technician on Kadena AFB, Okinawa Japan.
Our son Tim is 17 years old and a Junior at Fountain Hills High School. He is a Varsity Tennis Captain, works as a Soccer Referee and at The Fountains Church.
3. You have a real passion for bringing people together in this community, please tell us about that, where that comes from?
From my folks. Our house was always the place. I have so many uncles that I am not related to. My dad was definitely committed to this community and service. He died at 59 in 1997. He just loved Fountain Hills. He was in real estate and he was also in the Rotary Club. I think that is why I joined Rotary, because of him.
I definitely enjoy people, and I see the best in them. I hope to invite them to enrich their lives through being active with other people instead of just hitting the garage door opener, and being scared of the world because of what they see on TV and the internet. The reality is Fountain Hills is a great place to get plugged in with other people, and as soon as you get to know them, you realize they are pretty cool. I love that! It drives me to connect people. When you get people plugged into the community, they immediately meet other people. In fact, I just met with a client for coffee that has lived in Fountain Hills for a year now and he told me that he is so busy here and he has so many friends that are from all different parts and beliefs and he just really likes them. It’s so cool because there is so much they are interested in here and they are way busier than they thought they would be. I see their lives being enriched and I like that. I think my drive to bring people together is a little bit how I am wired and then fueled by results I see with inviting others to join in the community.
4. You were the Mayor of Fountain Hills during one of the toughest economic times since The Great Depression. What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced? What were your greatest accomplishments? How did you stay positive?
The biggest challenge was the economy, and having to eliminate a lot of staff jobs. We were one of the first towns to make significant cuts since our community is completely driven on sales tax and not property tax. It was challenging for staff, and we took a lot of pride in getting through it in a responsible and sensitive way. We went through multiple town managers while I was mayor and had to reorganize with the reductions.
Another big item was going to a single trash hauler. There were 5 or 6 companies that were running all over Fountain Hills. It was not a smart thing, but we were so hands off and not into government intervention here. We took a very clear path and made it very well known. We contracted with the town and went through an RFP process with all the providers and worked with the HOA’s. We went with the provider that would best meet our needs. The relationship is with the owner and company – not the town. This was an item that the town really wanted us to solve. The council was split 4-3 and I was the deciding vote. We were able to offer trash and recycling, which not everyone offered.
We also got a little more stimulus money than we expected and we were able to make some Shea Blvd improvements. We looked for every opportunity we could. We tightened our belts to get through a really rough time, and I don’t think the people of Fountain Hills realized an impact due to the quality of the town staff and innovation. It wasn’t ‘me’ or ‘I’, it was ‘we’. All of us worked together.
5. What are some dreams you have for the future of Fountain Hills?
I would love for Fountain Hills to be recognized as the greatest place in the country to raise a family. Obviously, Fountain Hills is a very safe place to live. In 1990, Oprah rated it as one of top 10 places to live. That was soon after the high school opened. However, after the housing market crashed in 2008, we lost a lot of families. As a result, the average age of Fountain Hills residents increased almost 10 years to 54 years according to the 2010 census. We need to make it possible for families to live and work here. We still have all those elements to be number one again.
I have big dreams for Fountain Hills. I would love to see that parcel (points to vacant lot on Avenue of the Fountains) across the street be developed. I would love to see the Downtown Vision Plan by worldwide community and land planner, Swaback Partners, be implemented. I would love to see more business success and more families here, those two items will help one another.
6. Through your real estate job, have you seen any trends in new people moving to Fountain Hills over the years?
We are clearly coming out of a long recession and the attitude of most buyers and sellers are that ‘things are back to normal’. Generally, what I see is that prices jumped from their November 2011 lows through Summer 2013 and then prices flattened a bit. Now prices are climbing again, but at more normal levels. The outlook is good going forward. It’s exciting to see new construction and new developments here in Fountain Hills. New homes bring more great people to our Town to live, work, shop and play. I encourage folks to connect with me directly in order to assess their home’s value and timing.
7. What are some interesting facts about you that not everyone knows?
- Tuesday morning is the “The Jay Walkers” hiking group. at 5:15am
- Fountain Hills Little League Manager 10 Years
- I have been licensed in real estate since 1992.
- When we moved here in the late 70s, I was fortunate to have all my aunts and uncles move with us.
- As a teenager, my dad bought me a dirt bike, and I used to dirt bike over everyone’s land. We could do it back then because there was no one to bother.
- We had horses here, our stables were behind Target until they closed.
- I ran the bowling center when it opened. After college, I worked as a general manager there and did all the hiring and set it up after a year and a half. We had 24 lanes at the time. Both sides were packed every single night.
8. You seem to know everyone here in Fountain Hills. What are some recommendations for our readers on how to get involved in the community and get to know more people?
- Heather Ware at the town hall is a great resource. She is the volunteer coordinator and she has a good grasp of organizations to get plugged into based on your interests. The Fountain Hills Times is good to get plugged into the community as well.
- If you have a house, go out front and meet your neighbors. Get outdoors and do what you like to do. Don’t be afraid to talk to folks. Fountain Park and McDowell Mountain Park are great places for people.
- Go to the ribbon cuttings. Look for new businesses and check them out. Shop local and support your local businesses.
- Figure out your interests and get out there. I am always available if someone wants to talk and help connect people.
Thanks for your time and the great answers Jay! See below for more info on Jay:
Jay Schlum served two-terms as Mayor of Fountain Hills, Arizona through 2012. He has been licensed in real estate for more than 20 years. Jay moved to Fountain Hills at age 12 in 1977. He married his College sweetheart and has two awesome kids. Professionally, Jay is passionate about Real Estate, serving his clients and of course his community of Fountain Hills. Jay works at Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate in Downtown Fountain Hills (next to Gridley’s) alongside his Broker & Sales partner Dori Wittrig they are the Jay & Dori team. Together they serve you with the experience, awareness and skills you need to best purchase or sell property in the area. Call, text or message Jay anytime (602)301-7855 or visit www.HomesInFountainHills.com