A recent list of the most saintly cities in America features three East Valley municipalities in the top 15, including a second-place finish the town’s mayor said is one of the “highest honors” it has earned in its existence.
Released by the blog Movoto, the rankings evaluate municipalities across seven categories to see how far they stray from committing the seven deadly sins — greed, gluttony, lust, envy, pride, wrath and sloth — and how close they landed to their virtuous counterparts: chastity, humility, kindness, charity, temperance, diligence and generosity.
Avoiding high marks in the lust category, for example, requires a municipality to have a low number of strip clubs in proportion to its population, and the pride category is measured by the number of cosmetic surgeons within a city’s limits on a per capita basis.
Topping the list is New York City, which earned high marks for its diligence, temperance and charity due in large part to the size of its population. Finishing just three points behind New York, and almost three points ahead of the third-place finisher Fremont, Calif., is the Town of Gilbert.
“I think it’s one of the highest honors Gilbert will ever receive,” said Gilbert mayor John Lewis.
Gilbert earned its spot on the list because it finished second in the country behind Irvine, Calif., in kindness, which is measured by the number of violent crimes committed per year per 1,000 residents using data collected by the FBI. The town also finished sixth in charity, which Movoto measured by the number of thefts and stolen cars based on the same per-capita criterion. Irvine also took first place in charity and finished 10th overall on the list.
Lewis said the town has a reputation as a safe place for its residents to live, and said the recognition could prove beneficial for Gilbert.
“We’ll just have to use it with our marketing,” he said.
Joining Gilbert in the top 10 is Chandler, which finished seventh overall and earned its highest marks for kindness and ranked in the 20s in every other category except generosity.
Similar to Gilbert, Chandler earned ranked highly in the safety categories, which City councilmember Kevin Hartke said stems from a crime rate that has declined year after year. He gave much of the credit to the improved crime rate, to the efforts of the Chandler Police Department.
He also called Movoto’s rankings a “fun list” and said the city takes its ranking “as a high honor,”
“Maybe we can move up next year and become even more saintly,” he said.
Gilbert and Chandler are joined by the City of Mesa, which finished in a tie for 12th with Raleigh, N.C. thanks to a solid mark in generosity measured by the percentage of disposable income donated to charity.
“Any time you throw those measurements out and we stack up well against other communities is a good thing,” said Mesa mayor Scott Smith.
Smith had a lighter take on the rankings than Lewis, but said the statistical basis for the system makes it more legitimate than other lists that take a more wanton approach.
Of particular note for Smith were the high grades the three East Valley municipalities earned for public safety, as he said it indicates the overarching region is “a great place to live.”
“We celebrate all of our success, even if it is a silly survey,” he said.
Two other Arizona cities, Phoenix and Scottsdale, found their way onto the top 50 and finished at 41st and 44th, respectively.
America’s most ‘saintly’ cities
1. New York
3. Fremont, Calif.
4. Glendale, Calif.
5. Chula Vista, Calif.
America’s most ‘sinful’ cities
1. St. Louis
2. Orlando, Fla.
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