MAG mourns passing of founder Jack DeBolske

It was with great sadness that the Maricopa Association of Governments announces the passing of its founder, Jack DeBolske.

Mr. DeBolske passed on Wednesday, July 19, at the age of 89. He led MAG under the title of MAG Secretary from 1967 to 1996.

Jack DeBolski

“I worked with Jack over the years and I am saddened to hear of his loss,” said MAG Chair Jackie Meck, mayor of Buckeye, in a press release.

“Jack DeBolske leaves a legacy of leadership that had a lasting impact on the formation of our region and our state, serving as the Executive Director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns for four decades and as MAG Secretary for 30 of those years.”

Mr. DeBolske set up the structure of MAG to include a governing body made up of elected officials from local governments, including cities, towns, county, and Native American Indian Communities.

He also insisted on creating a management committee of the managers of those local governments to assist in policy guidance and direction, the press release stated. He was instrumental in the development of Proposition 300, which implemented a half-cent sales tax for transportation that built the regional freeway system.

“Jack made an indelible impression on the organization, the region, and on me personally,” said MAG Executive Director Dennis Smith in the press release. Mr. Smith worked for Jack from 1976 to 1996.

“I was fortunate to have worked and learned from Jack for 20 years.  His honesty and integrity meant the most to him. As a boss, he always had your back. He understood that the elected officials led the organization and it was not about him. His signature MAG accomplishment was the creation of the regional freeway system through the passage of Proposition 300 that was overwhelmingly approved by the voters.  MAG was one of the first in the nation to use a sales tax to fund transportation. In addition to transportation, Jack also made his mark in air quality legislation, human services and population estimates and projections.”

Ken Driggs, former MAG staff coordinator and former executive director of the Regional Public Transportation Authority, also recalled the incredible trust the elected officials placed in Jack.

“He was strong and he knew the system. He knew how to work with the Legislature, he knew how to work with people around the state and how to balance different pressures,” said Mr. Driggs in the press release. “Jack DeBolske had built up credibility about his ability to work with city officials around the state and therefore, there was a trust relationship that allowed MAG to move forward.”

MAG was founded on April 12, 1967, and is celebrating its Golden Anniversary. In the foreword to a recent book documenting the organization’s 50-year history released in June, Mr. DeBolske wrote, “We were fortunate to have great elected officials throughout MAG’s history who were willing to take risks. They were willing to take advice and counsel and then make decisions. These were the founders of MAG and that leadership continues today….I am honored to be a part of this incredible history.”

Mr. Smith says Jack’s service will be remembered for decades to come.

“He will be greatly missed, but his legacy lives on through MAG,” said Mr. Smith in the press release.

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