To say there were surprises in the results of Scottsdale’s mayoral race would be an understatement. Unless, of course, you talked to the two winners. They, naturally, expected to win.
But most conventional thinkers did not think David Ortega or Lisa Borowsky would survive the primary to face each other in the general election. Most thought the two left standing would be any of the three others in the race: Virginia Korte, Suzanne Klapp and Bob Littlefield.
Which just goes to show you that conventional wisdom, like a lot of election polls, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Maybe a tub of salt.
There were fewer surprises in the six candidates for City Council who will move forward to the November race, with three eliminated, though you could argue a bit with the order in which they finished vs. what the salt shakers were saying.
When you look at the numbers in the mayoral contest, though, it does suggest one thing very clearly: Scottsdale voters are all over the map when it comes to who and/or what they want for their city.
All five candidates fell somewhere between the range of 18 and 21 percent of the turnout, with the two winners getting just a few hundred more votes than their closest opponents.
It underscores the need for strong leadership in the Mayor’s Office. Someone who can unite the city, starting with the council, and pull them together to solve issues and move the city forward at a time when it’s needed most.
One who can articulate a vision for the city that can create excitement among residents and a path to get us there. One who can bring an open mind and collaborative spirit, which will be vital in navigating through the city’s fiscal crisis created by the pandemic — a crisis we’re only just now starting to fully comprehend.
As we settle in for three more months of campaigning, what should we be looking for; what are the issues that the mayoral and council candidates should be prepared to address?
Among them are:
•The economy: The COVID shutdown has devastated the city’s tourism industry, leaving a deep hole in the city’s budget. How will the city cover that gap in a way that will continue to keep property taxes among the lowest in the Valley and amenities among the highest?
•Jobs: All the candidates agreed that recruiting quality jobs to the city is important to its economic health. Yet they were split on figuring out how they were going to locate them, including building office space to house them, and where.
•Downtown’s future. All supported a vibrant, lively downtown, but they were split on what it’s going to take to make it happen. We know what is not working: business as-is. What’s next?
•Schools. Nothing is weighing heavier on the minds of parents and families than the safe reopening of schools in the city’s boundaries. While they are separate government jurisdictions, should the city have a role in helping schools through this? How can the city work with the schools on long-term issues that help keep the city quality of life at the high level we now enjoy?
The November mayoral and city council election will be one of the most important ones ever for the city. We’re halfway through the campaign. Stay informed and stay involved.
Editor’s Note: Don Henninger, executive director of SCOTT, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Henninger serves on the Independent Newsmedia Board of Directors.