Scottsdale Democrats debate kicks-off local city council race

A view of the June 20 Scottsdale City Council debate held at the Civic Center Library and hosted by Legislative District 23 Democrats. (Photo courtesy of Sandy Schenkat)

Legislative District 23 Democrats held a public candidate’s forum Thursday, June 20 at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library.

Councilpersons on the panel were Kathy Littlefield, Solange Whitehead, David Smith, Bill Crawford and Linda Milhaven. It is estimated 160 people attended. Brion Neely, the LD 23 chairman, moderated the discussion using six questions gleaned from write-ins from Scottsdale residents.

The council did not have prior knowledge of these questions.

First question: What is your idea of desirable development?

Council members/candidates were generally in sync with non-toxic development that considers density, height, existing surroundings, as well as open space planning.

Candidate Solange Whitehead said: “we need something in exchange from developers when we have to deviate from the General Plan.”

She cited benefits such as parks, shade areas and added: “A community buy-in is essential.” Councilman Smith used the Optimum complex north of Fashion Square as an excellent example of “the things we strive for.”

Question 2: The topic of priorities and needs of the three geographical areas of Scottsdale

Most council members felt that the individual needs of each benefit all three areas. Candidates Whitehead and Crawford felt that south Scottsdale needs representation on the Council.

Question 3 had to do with funding for infrastructure.

There was much discussion on the fact that bond packages continually get defeated and the need for community support at the poles, as well as the need for council unity on these matters.

Councilwoman Milhaven stressed the importance of maintaining the infrastructure and Councilwoman Littlefield said: “we need a dedicated income source from sales tax.”

Councilman Smith further added: “we have $3 billion of stuff that wears out” and supports bond initiatives.

Question 4 had to do with transportation needs.

Candidate Crawford felt that the possibility of Light Rail was a non-issue because it would not be viable. Council members felt that bike shares and other technologies such as driverless cars, expansion of the trolley system, would all be possible solutions, although, not immediate in some cases.

In addition, it would be feasible to work with vendors first in regulating transportation solutions. Candidate Crawford pointed out that there are 800 parking spots in the central Scottsdale area.

Question 5 dealt with the Desert Edge project.

All were in agreement that economic development near the Preserve needs protection as there isn’t any currently.

Ms. Whitehead summed it up by stating: “public land must remain public and should be a ballot question.”

Several council members said that the council was challenged in finding the accurate verbiage to put this issue on the ballot. Councilwoman Milhaven added: “Desert Edge is an idea.”

The final question, an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance was in agreement by all council members.

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