Littlefield: The Scottsdale version of the 2018 municipal elections outcome

The final, detailed vote totals from the 2018 Scottsdale city election are in and they are truly amazing.

Bob Littlefield

First, Proposition 420; the city clerk tells me 420 is the first successful citizen initiative in Scottsdale she can find in her records, which dates back to 1985.

This literally unprecedented result is even more amazing when you consider the proponents of 420 had two massive hills they had to climb. The first was gathering a staggering 24,000 signatures on the initiative petitions. Next, they had to run a campaign to get the voters to approve the proposition.

They overachieved on both goals, collecting 37,608 signatures on their petitions and winning approval of Proposition 420 by 71 percent citywide.

Equally amazing is the re-election victory of Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield.

She received the most votes ever by a council candidate in the history of Scottsdale. Kathy was the top vote getter in 50 of the 53 precincts in Scottsdale and was second in three precincts. Her margins over the second and third place candidates were 7180 and 15,186 votes respectively, also unprecedented numbers. And she accomplished this while collecting the least amount of money of any candidate in the council race.

Speaking of second place, guess who was first in the three precincts where Kathy was not first? Second place finisher Solange Whitehead!

Overall Solange was first in three precincts, second in 42 precincts and third in eight precincts, so she and Kathy were chosen for council seats in every precinct in Scottsdale! Bottom line, Kathy, Solange and 420 won in every precinct in Scottsdale, in all parts of our city!

Usually, the local development establishment, which contributes heavily to the causes and candidates that enable them to exploit Scottsdale’s high quality of life and special character for their own financial gain, has their way in Scottsdale elections.

But in 2018 they lost big, both on 420 — which they bitterly opposed — and in the candidate race. Developer friendly candidate Linda Milhaven placed first in the 2010 and 2014 city elections, but barely held onto her seat by placing a distant third in 2018.

The election numbers make it clear, if Kathy and Solange had a third resident-friendly candidate to run with them in this election Milhaven would not have been returned to the City Council.

What caused the election results of 2018 to be almost the exact opposite of previous city elections? What are the lessons of this unprecedented election?

The first lesson is, don’t mess with the Preserve. 420 won in every precinct in Scottsdale, including precincts far removed from the Preserve, and in no precinct did it score less than 62 percent. The lesson here is, even Scottsdale residents who never set foot in the Preserve are proud of the achievement the Preserve represents for our city.

That’s why Scottsdale citizens voted five times to tax themselves a billion dollars to build the Preserve. The idea of allowing commercial development in the Preserve runs counter to everything the citizens were promised when they voted to establish the Preserve, so they turned out in droves to vote against that bad idea.

The second lesson is Scottsdale citizens want a city government that does a better job of managing their tax dollars. Both Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead ran on platforms of fiscal responsibility and reining in toxic over-development.

These issues are actually related — toxic overdevelopment diminishes Scottsdale’s special character and high quality of life, but it also hurts our city finances because in Scottsdale development does not pay for itself. The proof this is true is the fact, agreed upon by all involved, that our city has roughly $800 million dollars in unmet infrastructure needs.

Ask yourself this question, if development truly pays for itself, where did that $800 million go? Even the most special-interest-friendly City Council majority would have a hard time giving away that many taxpayer dollars! The obvious answer is development does not pay for itself, either the upfront costs or the ongoing costs it imposes on our infrastructure.

So reining in toxic overdevelopment is not just an aesthetic issue, it is also a financial issue. Littlefield and Whitehead promised to attack this problem and to cut wasteful spending, and this message of fiscal responsibility resonated big with Scottsdale voters.

The third lesson is, in Scottsdale city elections at least, bipartisanship pays. Kathy Littlefield, Solange Whitehead and Prop. 420 were supported by a variety of individuals and organizations from across the political spectrum.

In contrast, the three candidates who ran explicitly partisan campaigns were the bottom finishers in the council race.

During the 12 years I was on the City Council I fought hard for fiscal responsibility, reining in toxic overdevelopment and protecting the Preserve. So I am thrilled to see these three issues dominating the political debate in Scottsdale.

Will it last?

Can the voters who propelled Kathy Littlefield, Solange Whitehead and Proposition 420 to big victories sustain their outrage over the outrages in city government and continue to support true reform candidates? Based on the outstanding and powerful results of this election I believe the answer is, “yes.”

Editor’s note: Mr. Littlefield is a former three-term Scottsdale City Councilman and current campaign manager of Kathy Littlefield, who is his wife.

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