Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday's Forum For Scottsdale City Council Candidates.

On Wednesday, August 11, five of the six candidates for Scottsdale City Council gathered in the City Hall Kiva for a forum sponsored by the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce.

The candidates in attendance were Wayne Ecton (incumbent), Linda Milhaven, Ned O'Hearn, Guy Phillips, and Dennis Robbins.

(pictured from left to right: candidates Ecton (incumbent), Milhaven, O'Hearn, Phillips, and Robbins)

The sixth candidate, incumbent Bob Littlefield, had a statement read before the forum to explain his absence.  A somewhat longer version of that statement was emailed to various members of the community, and it was forwarded to me**.  To quote, in part:
Last week Scottsdale's Channel 11 Programming Commission voted 4-3 to allow the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce to host a candidate forum on taxpayer-funded Channel 11. Although I am running for re-election in this campaign you did not see me at that forum.

You will see me at all the other forums, such as the Realtors forum and the Arizona Republic forum. You may even have already seen me at forums hosted by the Scottsdale Community Council and Scottsdale Healthcare.

But not this one.

Why? Because my participation would have condoned allowing an organization that is guilty of campaign finance law violations to promote itself at taxpayer expense on Channel 11.
Once his statement was read to the audience, the forum proceeded as these things normally do. 

The sponsoring group, the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce in this case, asks a series of questions focusing on issues near and dear to that group.

At Wednesday's event, the questions ranged from...

Scottsdale's participation in regional economic partnerships (Ecton, Milhaven, O'Hearn supported, Robbins reminded people that would-be partners are also competitors, and Phillips said that neighboring cities "want to get into our coffers")...

Through the various proposed amendments to Scottsdale's charter (Milhaven, Ecton, and O'Hearn have reservations about some of them, Robbins basically supported them all, and Phillips opposes any changes to the way that the "founding fathers" wanted the city to operate)...

To attracting new businesses to Scottsdale (Phillips - lower taxes...and that's it; everybody else was more vague, but to be fair, it's a subject that lends itself to generalities)...

To transportation issues (Phillips - privatize buses and synchronize traffic lights...and that was it; the others basically spoke about things like bus rapid transit and implementing the 2008 Transportation Master Plan)...

And so on.

Impressions: At least on the questions that the Chamber asked, candidates Ecton, Milhaven, and O'Hearn tended to have similar positions.  Robbins, while polished (as befits his status as a former member of the Council), was closer to the current Council regime (Lane, Littlefield, Nelssen, and Borowsky).  Phillips, well, to be blunt, if the name hadn't already been used, I'd label him as a "Not Ready For Prime Time Player."  His responses ranged from "the Chamber is bad" to boilerplate Republican/Libertarian ideology.  He exhibited no understanding of the issues that face Scottsdale, nor did he show any inclination to learn about those issues.  John Washington, an activist and friend of the blog*, thought that Phillips made some good points, but I respectfully disagreed. 

If anyone should have skipped "protested" the Chamber's sponsorship of the forum, it should have been Phillips, not Littlefield.  Littlefield is someone I will never vote for, but I have to give him his due - he can handle himself in the spotlight and can spout boilerplate ideological orthodoxy without *sounding* like he is spouting boilerplate ideological orthodoxy.

*John and I don't agree on much of anything politically, but we can talk civilly about it.  That's unusual in AZ these days.

** I could respect Littlefield's stand for honest and transparency and a candidate not associating with a group guilty of campaign finance violations. 

I could, if he wasn't still part of the leadership of one such group.  Littlefield is a member of the State Committee of the Arizona Republican Party.

Anybody remember Joel Fox? SCA? The 2008 election?  Profoundly sleazy ads? Huge fines?

The candidates' written responses to Chamber questions can be found here.

A video archive of the forum is here.

The City is soliciting questions from the public to be answered by the candidates with the answers broadcast on CityCable11 during September.  Details here.

The City of Scottsdale's Elections Information page can be found here.  It includes info on the various ballot questions that will be before the City's voters in November.

Upcoming candidate forums:

September 20, 2010, sponsored by the Brown Avenue Merchants Association

September 27, 2010, sponsored by the Arizona Republic

There will be others.  As info becomes available, I'll publish it here.


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