Korte eyes convergence of opposing views at Scottsdale ‘Community Conversation’

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

Scottsdale Councilwoman Virginia Korte has a dangerously productive idea: put people with opposing views on public topics in one place at the same time and respectfully hash out differences to find the best consensus for the community of Scottsdale.

She is calling it a “Community Conversation.”

“Through the last several years serving on the city council, what I believe is the basic fundamental issue for Scottsdale is that we lack a true vision,” she said in a Nov. 29 interview.

“What do people want for the future of Scottsdale? What does 2050 look like?”

Virginia Korte

Councilwoman Korte contends the community of Scottsdale cannot stall or let opposing views stop good ideas from coming to fruition or a lack of opposing views allowing bad ideas to become realities.

“We need to have a conversation of opposing views on ‘this would work or why it wouldn’t,’” she said. “We can’t go backwards.”

For one day, she wants community members — elected, executive and everyday Joes — to come together to help local leaders build a vision the city of Scottsdale ought to be pursuing.

“Putting horse troughs in front of downtown stores is not going to keep Scottsdale the ‘West’s Most Western Town,’” she said. “This thing can’t be 1,000 people large, but how do we bring the right groups of people together? But I am hoping by late spring or early summer we can get the right people in that room.”

That’s where Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Hiegel comes in.

“I think we have a great opportunity to get involved based on the fact I get analytics from all of our membership,” he pointed out in a Dec. 14 phone interview.

“I can reach out to all of our 1,100 members and get their views on whatever project or initiative is ongoing in Scottsdale. People who are both for and against something can respond and we can bring them to the table.”

Mr. Hiegel says the conversation needs to come out from behind the computer screen.

Mark Hiegel

“Every time we actually sit down face to face, you don’t get misinformation but you actually get to talk to each other. Here are the facts — the conversation becomes real,” he said.

“We want to pick people on both sides of the issues to make sure we are getting it right to move Scottsdale forward in the right direction.”

Unlike efforts in the past, Mr. Hiegel contends the Scottsdale Community Conversation should be ongoing.

“One thing people do is they often put out a questionnaire and then people never hear anything more. With this we are really trying to start a conversation.”

Mr. Hiegel says the Scottsdale community needs to heal a bit following a contentious election cycle — one he says was just as pointed as he had ever seen at the local level.

“I am really proud of what Councilwoman Korte is doing from the standpoint that this was a difficult election cycle. It’s time for people to heal,” he said.

“In reality we all live here regardless if you are working for the city or running a business, you love Scottsdale. How do we come together and move forward like we have before to continue to make the city great?”

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

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