Opinion

Henninger: Scottsdale government becoming cohesive unit through elected leadership

Posted 6/7/21

“Governing is different than opposing … We all are getting used to the idea that we are governing.”

That quote in a national report was from a member of Congress from …

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Opinion

Henninger: Scottsdale government becoming cohesive unit through elected leadership

Posted

“Governing is different than opposing … We all are getting used to the idea that we are governing.”

That quote in a national report was from a member of Congress from Washington. But it could have been said by any newly elected office holder at any governing body from the highest levels in the nation to local municipal posts, like Scottsdale.

Candidates often campaign for office based on issues they oppose and things they want to prevent but once elected and in office then they need to determine what they want to support and what they are going to get done.

That campaigning-to-governing transition is playing out in Scottsdale as seen in recent action at City Council, which has three new councilors and a rookie mayor. Governing is all about leadership and leadership is all about listening – to each other, to constituents, and to the facts – and then working together to accomplish things. And they’ve been doing that.

What once seemed unlikely is now starting to happen: leadership and action on key issues by consensus -- or at least near-consensus, which still represents a lot of progress in a city that has been so polarized over the past few years.

Here are a few recent examples:

*On a 6-1 vote, the council approved the mixed-use Kimsey project downtown, giving merchants there a much-needed shot in the arm. The merchants made it clear they need the project and the council ultimately embraced what they said.

*On a 7-0 vote, the council created an education subcommittee, with three councilors on board, to work on ways to collaborate with K-12 schools in the city’s boundaries. Education is part of the city’s quality of life and this collaborative effort will support that. Given the recent disruption at a Scottsdale Unified School District board meeting, that partnership is needed now in ways we hoped we would never need.

*On a 6-1 vote, the city turned down the heat on the alleged parking problem downtown, adding a few more requirements to the code and giving staff a few months to dig into the issue and bring back any evidence that shows the city needs more parking from proposed developments there.

*On a 7-0 vote, the city adopted a non-discrimination ordinance, giving teeth to the values it espoused when it declared itself a Golden Rule City a few years ago.

The council also avoided a legal hornets’ nest when members agreed to scrap the desert-rural land use provision that would have put restrictions on what large-lot landowners in the north could do with their parcels. No vote was needed as it was part of a discussion regarding the General Plan update.

But their vote will be needed on the General Plan 2035, and on June 8 they will be looking to adopt it and send it on to voters to decide in November. A unanimous vote would go a long way in making the case for residents to approve it.

This council is finding ways to work together. You don’t have to agree with everything they do but you have reason to be optimistic the city will move forward if they continue doing their homework and collaborating with each other along the way.

Editor’s note: Mr. Henninger is executive director of SCOTT, can be reached at donh@scottsdale.com

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