Scottsdale mayor eyes hybrid district model in equal representation pursuit

A view of a monument sign welcoming motorists on the eastern border of the city of Scottsdale. (File photo)

A view of a monument sign welcoming motorists on the eastern border of the city of Scottsdale. (File photo)

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane says it is time for equal resident representation on Scottsdale City Council.

Jim Lane

Jim Lane

Mayor Lane is set to propose a new hybrid district council system in an effort to ensure all Scottsdale citizens — in particular south Scottsdale residents — have a stronger — and equal — voice on Scottsdale City Council.

“This in no way, shape or form is any indication to take away from the accomplishments the city council has achieved in south Scottsdale,” Mayor Lane said in a March 24 phone interview noting successes at SkySong of Scottsdale and efforts to revitalize the McDowell Road Corridor.

“Notwithstanding those achievements, there is still the issue that the general public in the southern part of town feel as if they are not personally represented on Scottsdale City Council — that is an element that I think is important.”

Under Mayor Lane’s expected proposal, three members of Scottsdale City Council would serve at large while three members of city council would be elected specifically from newly created districts serving north, central and southern Scottsdale. Under this model, the mayor would always serve at large and be elected by all of Scottsdale.

“I believe this hybrid system gives us the best of many worlds. Scottsdale will have three council members focused on the best overall interests of the residents in the city as is happening now, while three members will be able to concentrate on the three distinct personalities of our city in the north, central, and south,” Mayor Lane said.

Mayor Lane says it has been too long since a southern Scottsdale voice was elected to serve on the local dais.

“As the city continues its efforts to revitalize south Scottsdale, it’s not only important that we hear from residents, but it would be great if an elected south Scottsdale citizen were in a position to make our decision-making process even better,” he said.

According to Mayor Lane, the Scottsdale City Charter would have to be amended and the matter put to a public vote either through a special election in 2017 or general election in 2018.

“I believe this is another step in moving forward with reforms,” he said. “I think this reform is worthy of consideration.”

The city of Scottsdale adopted its municipal charter in November 1961.

Scottsdale is one of 19 Arizona municipalities that have adopted a city charter that experts say gives a more dominate role to the general public in local matters. The city incorporated in June 1951.

The municipal charter works in concert with the council-manager form of government prevalent throughout Arizona’s 91 cities and towns.

Mayor Lane understands a traditional district system would not be right for the city of Scottsdale. A move to create a traditional district system was rejected in a city-wide vote several years ago.

“This has been a point of conversation for quite some time,” he said of equal representation on city council. “The issue has come up and the fact is there are no members on the council from south Scottsdale and there hasn’t been one for years. The time has come for a reform like this.”

Mayor Lane says he will be investigating the next steps to build consensus at the city council level and develop a stakeholder task force to further examine the hybrid district model.

“These conversations are going to be held in open session,” he said. “The task force appointments will be made by all members of city council.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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