Seeking civility in the contentious 2016 Scottsdale City Council race

Election Art option 2

Voters go to the polls Nov. 8 to cast their votes and put an end to the litany of accusations, name calling and downright nastiness so prevalent in the current election season.

And we’re not talking just the national campaign for president where the intensity of personal attacks has deteriorated to a level unmatched in modern history.

The Scottsdale City Council election, too, has become nearly as divisive.

Local political officials have been called liars, accused of illegal acts and subject to personal and professional attacks from proponents of certain candidates as well as the candidates themselves.

Cease-and-desist orders have been drafted, public records requests filed and political action committees formed — all fueling the fire of political aspirations.

Residents and local leaders — elected or not — have privately and publicly expressed a need for a restoration of civility in discussing critical issues that impact the community as a whole.

Local voters will elect three people to Scottsdale City Council and a mayor after foregoing a primary election process, at the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election.

Scottsdale mayoral candidates are Mayor Jim Lane and challenger Bob Littlefield, while city council candidates are challenger Dan Schweiker and incumbents Suzanne Klapp, Virginia Korte and Guy Phillips.

But will that anger continue once ballots are cast? Will opposing candidates be able to set aside their differences and work for the common good?

The Scottsdale Independent over the past few weeks conducted a question-and-answer series to focus on issues.

A final questions-and-answer installment seeks to understand if beyond this election those in power at the city of Scottsdale can effectively work together for the betterment of the community.

The mayor’s race

Both mayoral candidates were asked if they could work with one another for the betterment of the community and to ensure the image of Scottsdale is not tarnished due to political infighting and name calling.

This is what they had to say:

Jim Lane

•If you are elected, are you going to able to work those who you disagree with on public issues?

Jim Lane

Jim Lane

I respect our democratic process and every resident who participates in it, including those who may support my opponent. Bob Littlefield has said my supporters should ‘fear and hate’ him. That’s unfortunate.

When this election is over, we will still be one Scottsdale and my door will be open, as it always has been, to all residents, even those who supported Bob. I may not agree with them but I applaud their civic involvement.

 

 

•And, if you lose, will you be able to support city leaders in an effort to come together and solve local challenges?

As I have campaigned, I have met countless supporters. I am proud of them all. They reaffirm my belief that Scottsdale is indeed the best city in America.

If I am elected, I consider it a win for all of Scottsdale. Should Bob win this election, I will work with him to ensure a smooth transition and I will encourage my supporters to do the same. My dedication to this great city is not dependent on the outcome of an election.

Bob Littlefield

•If you are elected, are you going to able to work those who you disagree with on public issues?

Bob Littlefield

Bob Littlefield

Contrary to what my opponent claims, everything I accomplished during my 12-plus years on the city council was done collaboratively. During those years, I collaborated with literally thousands of residents and business owners to protect neighborhoods, keep Palomino Library open, expand the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center, build the Granite Reef Senior Center and Museum of the West, protect Papago Park, and acquire the land for Camelback Park. I also worked with residents and Preserve advocates to complete the McDowell-Sonoran Preserve and to build trailheads to promote public access to the Preserve.

Unfortunately, there is a small component of the development community — not coincidentally most all donors to my opponent’s campaign — who are not interested in collaboration — they are only interested in exploiting Scottsdale’s special character for their own profit, at the expense of Scottsdale residents.

I learned early on if you try to meet them halfway they just take your half and keep your half too! Bottom line, I have proven I can work with anyone who is truly willing to collaborate. Sadly, a few special interests simply must be opposed to protect Scottsdale residents.

•And, if you lose, will you be able to support city leaders in an effort to come together and solve local challenges?

Principles are more important than personalities. I will support anyone when they are right. I will oppose anyone when they are wrong.

The council race

Each city council candidate was asked if they could work with one another for the betterment of the community despite the differences of political opinion.

This is what they had to say:

Virginia Korte

•If you are elected, are you going to able to work those who you disagree with on public issues?

Virginia Korte

Virginia Korte

I am the only candidate running for the city council advocating a cooling-off period after this election. I am then willing to sponsor and plan an event for a communitywide discussion on issues next spring. For now, I am calling the event “Vision 2017: Putting Scottsdale First.”

My proposal is simply a continuation of my 30 years of working to build consensus in our community both in the private and public sectors.

Throughout the campaign for my second term, I experienced the opinions and issues that divide our city.  The political hostility has reached heights I hoped I would never see.  But that does not mean we cannot mend fences and repair relationships to keep Scottsdale moving in the right direction.

We can and must do better to resolve differences.

•And, if you lose, will you be able to support city leaders in an effort to come together and solve local challenges?

No matter what the composition of the City Council is following this election, I will work with every councilmember to confront the city’s challenges.  That begins by encouraging a dialogue of councilmembers and citizens.

Guy Phillips

•If you are elected, are you going to able to work those who you disagree with on public issues?

Guy Phillips

Guy Phillips

I am not on the council to expound my ideals or “visions.” I am there to be the voice of the residents who are being ignored by the elitists on the council.  If they are willing to work with residents, then we will be able to work together.

•And, if you lose, will you be able to support city leaders in an effort to come together and solve local challenges?

That obviously depends on the issue. I’m not going to go along to get along.  Again, if the newly elected are willing to compromise their special interests with the resident’s rights there will be no challenges to solve.

Dan Schweiker

•If you are elected, are you going to able to work those who you disagree with on public issues?

Dan Schweiker

Dan Schweiker

I have a long record of being able to work with people whether we agree on every issue or not. At China Mist, when we ran ads for new employees one of the traits we recruited was the ability to “play well with others.” That is a character trait one of my business mentors taught me, and one that has been ingrained in me for decades. If you look for areas where you agree with others, then the areas where you look at things differently do not become so personal.

I try to keep all of this in perspective. Several months ago, when Suzanne and I hosted four women peace activists from Afghanistan, one of the things I will never forget is that they do not necessarily believe that they will be alive to come home after work when they go to work in the morning. That adds a different perspective to what we see here in Scottsdale. We are making important policy decisions but not life-and-death decisions.

•And, if you lose, will you be able to support city leaders in an effort to come together and solve local challenges?

When I practiced law back in Iowa, attorneys would fight each other all day in court and then go out for drinks afterwards. It was the ability to have intense policy discussions and then be able to connect afterwards over the things that bring us together.

That is just how I look at things. I do not take any of these policy disagreements personally and truly believe that both parties hold their views because they feel that they are right. Once the vote is taken, I move on. I do not go back and reread that chapter, but move on to the next issue. Sometimes the person you just argued against is your ally on the next issue.

I am running for council because of my belief in the need to keep Scottsdale moving forward, but the voters have the final say. If elected I will work my hardest for Scottsdale and if not elected, I will continue to be a voice of support for Scottsdale and what makes it such a wonderful place to work, live and play.

Suzanne Klapp

•If you are elected, are you going to able to work those who you disagree with on public issues?

Suzanne Klapp

Suzanne Klapp

Yes, I believe in civil discourse and have been respectful throughout my eight years as Councilwoman of all my colleagues on the council, whether they agreed with me or not. I do not hold grudges. Council members have differences in their approach, but everyone on the Council wants the best for the city.

•And, if you lose, will you be able to support city leaders in an effort to come together and solve local challenges?

Of course, I will support city leaders, win or lose.

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

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment