Christine Ellis made history in January when she became the first Black woman to sit on Chandler City Council. Ellis answered questions from Community Impact Newspaper on her run for the seat, her goals as a council member and the significance of her election.
What does it mean to you to be the first Black woman on Chandler City Council?
I think of what we have been through over the years, back to the 1800s, and I know it was worth it. We fought so hard among party lines, among trying to make this thing real—that all men are created equal and that we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. We have a right to a seat at the table. It was worth it. All my ancestors—it was worth it for each one of us. Every time we carve our name into history, we are saying, ‘See? I told you. We are worth it. I told you I could make history.’ It’s an amazing accomplishment.
What goals do you have while you are on Chandler City Council?
I want for us to stay in unity. I want to leave a mark that says we came together as one with all our differences and beliefs—that, together, we stayed and we made Chandler better. I want us to be able to say we did that because where we live—it’s a place where people can truly work and play. I want to leave something behind like Mayor Coy Payne left behind. He took Chandler on a path that was economically sound, and he looked at infrastructure and where we wanted to go as a city. He looked at how we want to better people’s lives. I want to continue building a city where we leave no one behind and where we see diversity and keep lifting people up so that we can see that, together, we truly are better.
What do you view as your most valuable asset to Chandler?
I have a heart of love. I have a capacity to love that is beyond me. I thrive to finish well, and I have that capacity to love. If I can bring that into the mix and every one of my colleagues can see that in me, they will trust me; they will allow me to voice my opinion; they will allow me to say no when I disagree.
What made you want to run for City Council?
I spoke with former Mayor Payne about running for council once, and he gave me a pathway. At the end of 2018, I was feeling a stirring; I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I went to Israel; I went to Haiti to visit my orphanage. I went on a 21-day fast trying to figure out what was next for me. I felt in my heart, God was telling me, ‘I want you to be my voice.’ I thought that I am already God’s hands and feet. I could feel that he wanted me to still go to a higher place, and for me, it was to be on this council. I kept hearing ‘Christine 2020’ in my head, and that’s what sealed it for me. I am a servant leader; I just want to serve at this capacity and that higher level God asked of me and give it everything I’ve got.
In your opinion, what should be the top priorities for the city this year?
The city magistrate has to be replaced, the city manager is leaving and has to be replaced, and we need to make sure that the people of Chandler are safe. I want to know what Washington is doing to help the people of Arizona and Chandler. I want to know what Arizona is doing to help cities. I want to keep Chandler moving forward; we can’t stop people from living or advancing, but at the same time, COVID-19 is a contagious disease, and we need to do our best to keep our citizens safe.
Q&A: Christine Ellis on being Chandler's first Black, female City Council member
Christine Ellis made history in January when she became the first Black woman to sit on Chandler City Council. (Courtesy city of Chandler)