Ask the Scottsdale City Council candidates: What value do you place on American freedoms?

Posted 7/10/20

On July 4, 1776, America’s founding fathers adopted the Declaration of Independence --- an action held near and dear to Americans hearts some 200 years later.

While July 4, 2020 looked much …

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Ask the Scottsdale City Council candidates: What value do you place on American freedoms?

Photo by Arianna Grainey
Photo by Arianna Grainey
Arianna Grainey
Posted

On July 4, 1776, America’s founding fathers adopted the Declaration of Independence --- an action held near and dear to Americans hearts some 200 years later.

While July 4, 2020 looked much different than the usual outdoor celebrations watching fireworks with friends and family the ideals behind the holiday remained.

In the latest question-and-answer installment leading up to the Aug. 4 primary election, the Independent asked the Scottsdale City Council candidates to reflect on the meaning of Fourth of July, American freedoms, and the importance of free speech.

Read below to understand the red, white and blue beliefs of each council candidate.

Betty Janik

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?
The fourth of July is a celebration of our nation and the freedoms we enjoy as part of the United States of American. It is important to show our patriotism with devotion to and support of our country.  It reminds us that we have freedoms few other nations enjoy.  We need to value this freedom and protect it collectively as we celebrate on the 4th of July.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms?
The Bill of Rights protects our most cherished American freedoms, including freedom of speech, religion, and due process of law. I describe my American freedoms as opportunity for all.

My father -in-law finished his education at the end of 6th grade and went to work in the saw mills.  As an adult, he was laid off in tough economic times and relied on charity to put food on the table. One generation later, his son finished training as a pediatric surgeon at the age of 34.  With the freedom of opportunity, the American dream was realized.  This story has been repeated thousand of times because of the freedom of choice and opportunity afforded us as citizens of the United States.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as Councilmember of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?
I am running for City Council to give a voice to all residents of Scottsdale. The citizens need a seat at the table, a majority voice, which has been denied for the past four years.  One of my goals is to redefine the Neighborhood Advisory Committee by establishing 5 zones in the city - Southern, Downtown, Central, North 1 and 2 - with each zone participating in new project approvals.  They need to have a voice in the decision making process.  This is an important first step in making sure all voices are heard.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?
There are expectations for appropriate speech.  All words matter, especially when spoken by elected leaders and I would add, candidates for elected offices.  With the emotionally charged environment we find ourselves in, we often say things that we wish we could temper or take back.  This is true of all of us, myself included.  We all need to think before we talk and avoid emotionally charged rhetoric that can stoke the fires of discontent and social unrest.

Becca Linnig

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?
For me, the 4th of July has always been a time for friends and family to come together and celebrate baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie. Oh, and it was my Grandpa’s birthday. My Grandpa was in the Navy and fought in World War II. Coming from a family with several that served in the military seeing the red, white, and blue stars and stripes waving on the 4th always brings up nostalgia and pride.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms?
I would not want to live in any other country. It is incredible to me that the Bill of Rights was made so long ago and in a very different time but still holds up and it is inclusive enough that it protects all American’s.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as Councilmember of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?
It is important that we have council members with different perspectives as it relates to our residents. Every council member should participate in community outreach and hear the issues with an open mind. When council has their mind made up before giving the residents a chance to speak, we all lose.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?
Of course, and it is not just as an elected leader it’s as a member of a community. When you represent our city everything you do reflects on our city. It is NOT a part-time commitment and if you are not able to make the full-time commitment you should not be allowed to represent.

John Little

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?
It is important we celebrate this holiday together because in a nation so divided over politics it gives us an opportunity to focus on the values in America which unite us instead of the issues, ideologies, and conflicts that divide us. America has earned its place in the Pantheon of history as the most enduring democracy the world has ever seen. It has been fueled and sustained by our pioneering spirit, our courage, our innovation, our unsurpassed compassion and generosity, our unparalleled freedoms, and our great fortune to live in a country where our imagination and ambition can make our dreams come true.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your
American freedoms? What do they mean to you?
I don’t know if I can define freedom but I surely can describe what it means to me: Freedom is Bob Dylan and Loretta Lynn, it’s “God Bless America” and “We Shall Overcome”, it’s Hot Dogs and tacos, it’s Bud Light and Corona, it’s prayer and meditation, it’s patriotic parades and street protests, it’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leonard Bernstein. Our strength lies not in our differences but in our shared values and mutual respect. My wife and I disagree about politics, news channels, and elements of faith but we share a love of America and we have learned the power of tolerance and mutual respect. I also believe very strongly that freedoms come with obligations and duty. Our freedoms are dependent on our willingness to participate in our democracy. Therefore at election time, vote. When given the honor of reporting for jury duty, go without excuse. Pay your fair share of taxes, Serve your country in the military, the Peace Corps, or volunteer at a food bank. Freedom requires and demands that we serve others and not shirk our share. Sustaining Democracy is a heavy responsibility, it takes all of us to hold it high.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as Councilmember of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?
Scottsdale was the “Gold Standard” in Arizona for decades, implementing programs and technologies that promoted citizen involvement. Our city’s original visioning initiatives like the Scottsdale Town Enrichment Program (STEP) and Scottsdale Visioning in 1991-93 were model programs designed to amplify citizen voices and ideas. We are in dire need of a new community visioning effort. I also believe Scottsdale is long overdue in moving important meetings out of the Kiva and into the community. Many boards and commissions could better connect to the citizens if they would get out of city hall and forge stronger connections with citizens.

To that end, I am proposing a comprehensive assessment of city policies, practices and ordinances, rules, and regulations to identify systemic barriers to participation. This will allow us to engage with the community and incorporate new practices that open government for all voices. As well, the practice of merely posting meeting notices of important meetings must give way to new technologies that enable the city to make more intimate connections asking people to get engaged. Let’s move away from the generic “open houses” to “by special invitation, your participation is vitally important” kinds of notifications.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?
Elected officials frequently bemoan the loss of civility in our community discourse. Problem is, it starts at the top with our elected officials. If they are insensitive, uncivil, or worse that becomes the dominant culture in a community. Out of the mouths of our leaders, we can find the roots of distrust and disrespect.

The Edelman Trust Barometer which annually polls the degree of trust people place in government and institutions, shows a continuing decline in the trust and confidence people have in their elected leaders. We can only gain trust back if our elected officials model the change we say we all want. Some candidates talk more about seizing power and not enough about demonstrating principles.

We are human beings, we won’t always get it right. And with the help of one another, we can set loftier goals for etiquette and civil discourse and maybe model the dignity, respect, and decorum we want to see in our schools, our businesses, in our relationships and our community. Since we all must begin somewhere let’s see if we can practice more truthfulness, civility, kindness, respectfulness, thoughtfulness, humility, and self-reflection.

Kevin Maxwell

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?
The freedom to enjoy life to it’s fullest. I try every day to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities our country has provided for us. I hope future generations will as well.

America is not a perfect country. We are a work in progress and a place where change is possible. Citizen’s voices matter and our privilege to vote exercises those voices. I hope that everyone in Scottsdale exercises their right to life, liberty, and happiness.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?
To me, freedom means that everyone who lives in America has the opportunity to succeed, and success means so many things to different people.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as Councilmember of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?
By doing my best to be sure every voice is heard. Every idea is recognized. and the ability to speak first hand with those who represent Scottsdale is as easy and seamless as possible. The ability to speak to City Council is foundational.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?
We all afforded protections under the First Amendment. I feel that it is the most important Amendment. Public officials will never be arrested or legally held responsible for the words they utter. This is the beauty of the Constitution. Public officials, however, need to be aware that their words have meanings. There may be consequences for words they say. Cause and effect types of consequences. Not necessarily legal consequences but societal consequences.

Guy Phillips


•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?
God bless the USA! Especially during this time of strife. We are the greatest nation on earth and I’m proud to stand with our fellow Americans.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?
Never take freedom for granted. We are always one step away from tyranny and freedom needs to fought and won on a daily basis. Our founding fathers have left us with laws to self-govern and it’s up to us to carry out those same laws and rights for the next generation.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as Councilmember of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?
As you know I exercised my freedom of speech pertaining to an unjust mandate with a criminal penalty. Everyone has the right to peaceable demonstrations. Recently a group called The Scott Project wrote to the council saying “freedom of speech has consequences” and wanted council to remove me from office. That is not freedom. That is a threat to Democracy to say it’s okay to speak but we will punish you for it. Freedom of speech means freedom to speak without threat of retribution. I will defend everyone’s right to free speech under the constitution.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?
Each elected leader is just that. An ELECTED leader. If that person goes against what his/her constituents wanted they can address it at the ballot box.
No other elected leader is above another. We all have the same constitutional right of free speech under the law.

Michael Auerbach

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?
America can best be described in one word- Defiant. The founding of our nation is based on the American spirit that we will decide our destiny. We defeated a monarch, settled the frontier, crossed the Great Divide, established the principle of freedom, guaranteed liberty, and created the longest-lasting document in the history of democracy. The Last Founding Father, James Monroe said on December 7, 1824, “There is no object which as a people we can desire which we do not possess, or which is not within our reach…Our agriculture, commerce, manufacture, and navigation flourish.” My travels around the world have given me perspective on what it means to be an American. We are strong, freedom-loving, and defiant in the face of obstacles.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you
Salmon Chase said in 1793, “Under the Constitution, all the inhabitants of the United States are, without exception, persons.” Therefore, possessed of every right guaranteed under the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as Councilmember of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?
American liberty is a sound principle. The Bill of Rights holds that Liberty and Equality of opportunity were the central ideas defining American nationality insofar as individuals enjoyed civil liberty they possess equality. The Declaration of Independence is the nation’s first founding document, a historical preface to the Constitution that supplies an aspirational and teleological element defining the philosophy of the American government. The beauty of our free society is that we have the right to respectfully disagree. If I am honored to serve you on the city council, I will protect the First Amendment freedoms of every Scottsdale resident. Freedom is good for everyone! When one person’s freedom is threatened, all of us are at risk.

Tammy Caputi

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?
I grew up in Boston, among the sites where our democracy was born. I walked the Freedom Trail, ran along the Charles River, and got married overlooking Boston Harbor, home of the original Tea Party! I can picture perfectly the locations where years before me courageous people stood up for liberty and for our nation, and that personal connection really brings America home for me.

t’s important for us as Americans to celebrate this holiday together, now more than ever. July 4th and the celebration of our nation should transcend party, race, religion, gender, and all our many differences, and offer us an opportunity to join together in our shared origins and history. It’s important to recognize our differences, and acknowledge that not all of us share the same experience of freedom and justice for all, but that together we are continually striving to be a more perfect union.

I’m saddened that we couldn’t celebrate the holiday in-person at places like the Civic Center Mall and WestWorld this year. As I watched the fireworks from my home, I reflected on how we can come together as a city as well, and move forwards into the future continually striving to be better for all of our residents.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?

I am grateful to be living in a country that was founded on the principle that citizens should have the basic right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We must continually work towards being a “more perfect union,” as our founders intended, guaranteeing basic human rights and equality under the law to all citizens. It’s important that we remember there’s always a balance between individual freedoms and the health and safety of our shared communities.

We should always be aware of where our own freedoms overlap with others and be willing to negotiate where it makes sense. I hope to live up to these ideals by listening to and respecting everyone, and bringing an open mind and good judgment to all topics. I try to make decisions that respect the rights of everyone and benefit the greater good.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as Councilmember of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?

I know from my experience serving on the Development Review Board for the last 3 years that more communication, citizen outreach and input is always better. We’ve shown recently with the passage of the bonds and the school override how the city is fundamentally united and can collaborate together on the issues that matter to us all.

When people feel their voices are heard and represented, they are willing to work together towards a common good. We need to update our General Plan, to capture the vision of the current population. We need to protect our neighborhoods and open spaces and nurture our economic drivers. I look forward to engaging every person who wants to participate in our local government.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?

Everyone is “free” to say whatever they want, but that doesn’t mean we “should” say everything we’re thinking. Yes, I believe there are unwritten rules of etiquette that one should follow if given the privilege of being elected to a leadership position. Leaders are role models for other citizens, and for our children. This is a responsibility we should not take lightly. Words matter; they can heal or they can hurt. Leaders should be held to a higher standard. We elect them to set an example for the rest of us- to uphold the character and values that represent our community and respect the rules of law and etiquette. I believe every person who lives, works or visits this city deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, and we look to our elected leaders to set this standard and example for the rest of us.

Bill Crawford

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?
The Fourth of July is a day to gather with loved ones, remember and express gratitude to our Founding Fathers, and celebrate the fact that we are fortunate to live in the greatest nation in the world. It is a day to show off the renowned American sense of togetherness. We must celebrate this holiday together because occasionally, we need to be reminded that our commonalities outweigh our differences.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?
My American freedoms mean everything to me. These freedoms have enabled me to live, raise my family, run my business successfully for over 42 years, and run for political office today. The rights afforded in the first 10 Amendments in the Constitution have set an international standard and been replicated by many other countries. I am proud of each of these rights and vow to protect them if elected to the Scottsdale City Council.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as Councilmember of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?
The world is run by those who show up to run it. Involvement is critical. Though it may appear difficult if the process in unfamiliar, it is extremely easy to ensure that Scottsdale residents are heard. How? Listen and be responsive! On too many occasions, our local elected officials adopt an apathetic approach to constituent relations. Some do not respond to emails, ignore phone calls, and Facebook posts, and simply lose touch with the voters. I will continue to be a strong voice for residents, businesses, and visitors.

As a businessman and community leader, I have never embraced a blasé attitude towards my clients and neighbors. If elected to Scottsdale City Council, my door will always be open, as it has been for the last 22 years, to citizens who want to express their thoughts, ideas, and complaints. Furthermore, I will seek to immediately create an Advisory Council for myself.

This group will be composed of neighborhood leaders from our entire city and will meet monthly to discuss issues impacting those living in Scottsdale. As a member of such an esteemed institution, my job is to be a “bridge” between the government and the citizens. I assure the voters that I will not take these responsibilities lightly.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?
The First Amendment right to free speech is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, freedom we enjoy as Americans. However, I do believe that there are limits and rules of etiquette that one, especially an elected leader, must adopt. These rules center around showing respect for the voters. These unwritten rules on respect mean a great deal to me because I understand that serving as an elected leader is an esteemed position that a vast majority never attain. It is a privilege, not a right. I would be entrusted with the hopes and wishes of thousands and I do not want to let my constituents down by denigrating them and being rude towards them. Demonstrating respect at all times in written and oral communication with my constituents illustrates my admiration and appreciation for those who elected me. It is not a courtesy. It is a necessity.

Tom Durham

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?
The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. It commemorates the moment when some of the greatest individuals the world has ever known decided to take words on a page and translate them into a new system of government. My wife and I watched Hamilton to celebrate the Fourth, and I am always struck when the Schuyler sisters sing “Look around! Look around! How lucky we are to be alive right now.” This would have been an incredibly interesting time to live. I would love to spend a few minutes speaking with George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. Although their creation is imperfect (as we all are) it still remains the best hope of the world. We should celebrate the Fourth because the ideas set forth in the Declaration and the Constitution are, or should be, what binds us together. In the midst of our recent problems, I think we sometimes tend to forget “how lucky we are to be alive right now” in the greatest country the world has ever seen.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?
The Bill of Rights is an essential statement of what it means to be free. As a candidate for office, I am able to speak my mind on important issues without fear of anything worse than being criticized on Facebook. At this moment, I am missing the right to peaceably assemble, as COVID has made that very difficult. ZOOM is a pretty poor substitute to meeting neighbors, potential voters, and viewing the City Council in action. My wife is an Episcopal Deacon, and so I am grateful that we have the right to worship in our faith. And I am also grateful that my friends and neighbors and other citizens of Scottsdale have the right to worship in theirs. In the 18th Century, my ancestors in France and Germany were forced to leave their homes by the incessant religious wars in Europe. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the small town in Germany where my sixth and seventh great-grandfathers were born. The village had been burned to the ground in the 1690’s by warring factions and around 1723 they decided to take their chances in the New World. I walked through the gate they (and their families) walked through as they left their home for a new continent and I felt overwhelmed by and grateful for their courage. I have also visited their graves outside Philadelphia, and that of their son-in-law who fought in the Revolution and suffered at Valley Forge. And in my own career as a lawyer, I was always grateful for the right to due process, which is one of the most important concepts in human history.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as Councilmember of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?
I will ensure that all citizens have a voice at City Hall by listening to and expressing their concerns. One of the provisions in the Bill of Rights is the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. But this right doesn’t mean much if the powers that be don’t listen. One of the main reasons I am running for City Council is that our current Council majority has repeatedly ignored the voices of citizens on the Desert Discovery Center, the Marquee, and Southbridge II. On the Desert Discovery Center and Southbridge II, the citizens had to bypass the Council majority and take their grievances directly to the people. If the Council majority would listen, this wouldn’t be necessary.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader, are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?
Yes, there certainly are unwritten rules of etiquette. I find that one of the hardest things in being a candidate is choosing my words carefully. As a candidate, I hope to represent all the citizens of Scottsdale, even the ones who don’t agree with me. My words will inevitably reflect on the citizens of Scottsdale and I try to be conscious of that at all times.

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