This year, for the city of Scottsdale, three city council seats and the mayor will be determined plus you will vote on a charter amendment to fix the election dates to coincide with the state and federal general elections (November).
Voting for your city council members is perhaps the most important thing you can do that has a direct impact on your quality of life as it determines how the city will continue to change and develop.
The city council is responsible for enforcing our zoning laws and General Plan, which directly determines what is built, what amenities we will have, what infrastructure we will need, and indirectly determines what our taxes will be.
Through their decisions, they control our future.
Unfortunately, this year your choices for city council are limited as there are only four people running for three seats, three incumbents and one newcomer.
For mayor you have two choices, incumbent Mayor Lane and challenger Bob Littlefield, who was a past council member. So, basically we know a lot about everyone running except possibly the newcomer for council, Dan Schweiker.
For city council, Guy Phillips is the only one of the four running that has a proven record of supporting citizens and the small business that made our downtown unique and desirable.
All of the other three are members of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, whose agenda is to transform Scottsdale from a tourist attraction and low-density, single-family city into a dense congested urban city, dominated by night clubs and high dense apartment buildings, which they then say will require Light Rail up Scottsdale Road to mitigate the resulting traffic congestion.
All three are also in favor of building the Desert Discovery Center in our Preserve, at the Gateway trailhead, without a public vote.
For mayor, your choice is between current mayor, Jim Lane, and former councilman Bob Littlefield. Again, your selection should depend on what you want to see happen to Scottsdale.
Lane has supported every change anyone has requested, which has resulted in dramatic increases in density and height all over the city.
He has also been very supportive of the bars/nightclubs that are transforming downtown from a tourist attraction and center for arts into party central, the highest concentration of bars/night clubs in the valley that attract the young and drunk from all over the valley, who just want to party and therefore aren’t going to spend money at our other stores, restaurants, and shops, while driving out the middle aged demographic that used to visit downtown and spend money there.
The bars have also brought increased crime, prostitution, and all the other great things that follow these types of businesses, while costing the city far more than any income they may generate.
Lane also claims that he has brought all this business to Scottsdale, which may be true but what do those businesses bring to Scottsdale and its citizens?
The answer is just increase traffic congestion for the most part because unless they are retail businesses, they don’t contribute to the city’s sales tax income which is the major source of income for the city. Also, the majority of the employees, for most of them, live outside Scottsdale, so more traffic congestion and stress on our infrastructure with nothing in return for us.
Therefore, like the bars/night clubs, they can cost the city far more than any income they bring into the city, which will result in higher taxes for the rest of us. Proof of this is that the city tried to pass bond measures for maintenance, which should never be necessary as it should be covered by our General Fund — yearly income minus yearly expenses).
Lane has also stated publicly that “anyone should be able to do anything they want with their property,” which means he has no intention of enforcing our zoning code and General Plan, both of which are supposed to define how the city grows to remain desirable and sustainable.
Littlefield has a proven track record, as a city councilman, of supporting citizens and only voting for changes that benefit the city and its residents while opposing the desire to transform Scottsdale into an urban jungle.
He therefore does enforce our zoning code and General Plan, which is what should determine how we grow, not what change someone wants to make more money off their property.
If building the Desert Discovery Center in the Preserve is an issue for you, the selections are the same. Korte, Klapp, and Schweiker are all in favor of doing it without a public vote and Mayor Lane has tried to be on both sides of the issue, saying he supports a public vote while stating he believes it belongs in the Preserve.
He has also voted for every DDC related thing brought before the council. On the other hand Guy Phillips and Bob Littlefield are against building it at all, much less in the Preserve. Again, depending on what you want, your choice is clear.
So, regardless of who you may personally like, the selection for both mayor and city council comes down to what you want your city to be, an urban jungle, dominated by high-rise apartments, and traffic congestion that comes with the increase in density, or the big city with a small town feel where quality is valued over quantity and quality of life is valued over continuing to grow at a high rate.
To quote one of Lane’s signs ‘If you like Scottsdale” and where it is headed, “Keep Mayor Lane,” and vote for Korte, Klapp, and Scheweiker for council, however if you like what Scottsdale was and are concerned about what is happening to the city that is destroying what drew you to it, you should vote for just Guy Phillips for council and Bob Littlefield for Mayor.
For these reasons, my recommendation is to vote only for Guy Phillips for city council and for Bob Littlefield for mayor. By voting only for Guy Phillips instead of checking off three choices you are increasing the probability that Guy Phillips will be elected plus sending a message to the rest that you don’t like the direction the city is headed in.
For me, I love Scottsdale, the high quality of life it offers, all the lifestyle choices available, low building heights to maintain views, and all its amenities.
Our Preserve is second to none, our relatively low population density, and reasonable number of businesses, kept traffic congestion manageable and made it easy to get around in Scottsdale.
Our tourists and residents — which typically have a higher income than other areas in the Valley — made our city financially stable while maintaining some of the lowest sales and property tax rates in the Valley.
Our unique historic downtown with its art galleries, western flavor, high end restaurants, low building heights, and relatively low congestion made it a highly desirable place to be in and visit.
Now the height, density, noise and congestion have driven me away from downtown and Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon have become unbearable there. So it all depends on what you want our city to be and if you feel we are headed in the right direction or not.
On the Charter amendment, while it sounds OK, I will vote against it because I want to leave the option open to hold elections at other times. When we did hold the local election in March we had a better council because the people who voted were more educated on the issues.
Using only November brings out all the people who are more interested in the state and national elections, but don’t know much about the local issues and people. So for me, I want to keep our options open.
Regardless of who you like or want to vote for, if you are registered in Arizona to vote, please do vote. Your vote really does count, especially in the local elections.
Editor’s note: Mr. Meyers is a resident of Scottsdale