Fishman: A candidate without ideas or experience


I have carefully read City Council candidate Barry Graham’s website, listened to his questions and comments at Planning Commission hearings, and reviewed third party interviews and comments concerning his background and positions.

As a result, I have serious reservations about his experience, approach, specificity of goals, and lack of teamwork to improve our city and government.
Mr. Graham’s “Put Resident First” campaign states his top three concerns are:

  •  “Out-of-control development: I will protect residents’ quality of life from development that harms the city’s character.
  •  Resident outreach: I will expand the citizen outreach process to include more emphasis on resident input.
  •  Financial efficiency: I will analyze city spending to ensure taxpayers are getting more efficient city government”.

These are certainly worthy of consideration, but they lack specificity as to actions and do not include priorities to improve/preserve our city or a vision for the future. These include heat mitigation and sustainability (including water conservation), emergency planning, and housing.

Instead, his top three concerns are soft: quality of life of residents, improve outreach process, and analysis of city spending for more efficient city government. (Why does he think we need to be more efficient when our financial continue to show strength and excellent results?)

Barry prefers to live in the intangible world. For instance, he indicates there are too many projects for which the city gets a rating of 1 out of 5 stars, (from whom?) and that residents feel unheard and not respected. (Scottsdale’s process and outreach for comments from the community is thorough, frequent, and respected).

As he states, “Citizens deserve a stronger voice.” Stronger than what? How will it be measured? Is he proposing surveys or just his opinion of what that voice is?

Barry came to the Planning Commission with no experience or expertise. He proved that by voting no on nearly every multi-family project. He has even said that the PUD classification has had mixed results as retail space as a percentage of these projects is too low. Really? Why? What is the right number? Each project stands on its own based on location, size, other businesses, etc.

Barry’s little to no development position may politically play well in some circles but is a sure way to ensure Scottsdale does not continue to have a premier brand. Its basis is spurious.

The fact is we have a housing shortage. It’s estimated that in Scottsdale an additional 50,000 units are needed for population growth. (Our population growth in the last census was de minimis). Is it a water issue? (Scottsdale’s water management has been superb with total water deliveries having gone down since 2016 through 2021 with strong plans for managing potential shortfalls).

As an observer I have seen Barry grandstanding arguing over social distancing and immigration policies. This is inappropriate for a Planning Commissioner. I also think he has been disrespectful to the city’s planning staff and investors.

Let’s be clear we need appropriate levels of growth to continue to win in the marketplace. To continue to support Scottsdale’s lower taxes and higher services increased revenues must occur. Given that 70% of the city’s revenue comes from sales taxes and other commerce generated sources how does Barry propose improving revenues? By reducing expenses?

Unfortunately, City Council has not defined what appropriate growth is. Barry is certainly not adding to that discussion by simply stating we need “quality” growth. Perhaps projecting how much additional revenue is needed and future sources would be a good first step. Leadership and meaningful ideas are challenging. So far, he has not met that challenge.