Friday, July 18, 2008

Candidate Forum For Scottsdale Mayoral And Council Candidates

Back to boring (i.e. - content that's only relevent locally)...

Thursday evening, all three of Scottsdale's mayoral candidates (incumbent Mary Manross and challengers Jim Lane and John Washington) and 7 of the candidates for Scottsdale City Council (incumbents Betty Drake and Ron McCullagh and challengers Nan Nesvig, Tom Giller, Lisa Borowsky, Joel Bramoweth, and Suzanne Klapp) gathered for the candidate forum sponsored by the Coalition of Pinnacle Peak (COPP).

None of the candidates did a bad job there, though the one who didn't participate, council candidate Oren Davis, didn't do his candidacy any favors by not showing up.

While there were some differences in their positions, all of the candidates showed a grasp of the main issues facing Scottsdale.

Their positions, shown by their responses to a COPP candidate survey, can be found on this page.

Impressions -

Of the candidates who did participate, Lisa Borowsky had the weakest night - she was all but drowned out by the gaggle of candidates on dais. It's not entirely her fault (COPP should have split the forum based on office sought - 10 on the stage was just too many). In addition, after the first couple of questions that had been prepared by COPP, a series of audience questions were presented to the candidates, but in a move that was unique compared to the other candidate forums that I've attended over the last few years, those questions were directed at specific candidates, not the entire panel. The 'free-form' format of the debate might have worked with a smaller panel, but not here.

On the other hand, the other candidates faced the same conditions, too. If she wants to run for office, Borowsky needs to learn to adapt her presentation style on the fly.

The strongest presentation was from council candidate Nan Nesvig. She was prepared, spoke clearly, definitively and intelligently on a variety of issues. The only flaw in her presentation that I could find (and it's a technical one!) was that she spent a little too much time reading from her prepared notes.

Joel Bramoweth, as has been noted here before, tended to go on a little too long and sometimes made his answers more of a project than was necessary. However, he also was the funniest of the candidates, frequently connecting with the audience poking fun at his own speaking style. Overall, he probably helped himself a little.

Tom Giller (council) and John Washington (write-in candidate for mayor) did a good job of delineating their differences with the status quo, and did so strongly but without being strident.

Incumbent council members Drake and McCullagh stressed the need for a return to civility in Scottsdale politics (Drake) and that they were running to represent the entire city, not just one neighborhood or single section of the city (McCullagh).

In addition, all of the incumbents, including Mayor Manross, pointed out that the city is in decent shape (and to be fair, while there *are* problems here, as in any other city, Scottsdale really *is* in good shape overall).

On the other hand, most of the challengers, including current council member Lane, cited distrust between the City government and the citizens of Scottsdale as one of the big problems facing the city, and used that to call for a change in city goverment.

Anyway, the forum went fairly smoothly, other than some of the format issues cited above. It was not recorded on video, so anyone who couldn't make Thursday's event should plan to attend the EV Tribune Mayoral forum on Tuesday, July 22 in the City Hall Kiva from 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. It will be broadcast live on CityCable11 and repeated at various times.


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