ELECTIONS

Pivotal November election hangs future prosperity of Scottsdale in balance

Mayoral candidates discuss pivotal perspectives

Posted 9/21/20

With the upcoming November mayoral election drawing near, Scottsdale residents may be wondering what the final two candidates have to say over some hot topic issues that are pressing in the …

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ELECTIONS

Pivotal November election hangs future prosperity of Scottsdale in balance

Mayoral candidates discuss pivotal perspectives

Posted

With the upcoming November mayoral election drawing near, Scottsdale residents may be wondering what the final two candidates have to say over some hot topic issues that are pressing in the community.

After months of campaigning and August primary, it was announced Aug. 12 that the two mayoral candidates would be former city council members, Lisa Borowsky and David Ortega. Both candidates have made clear in their campaign statements that reconnecting and engaging with the community is necessary for progress.

This year, unlike other election seasons that came before it, has been filled with a multitude of issues that have directly or indirectly impacted community members.

Over the summer, Scottsdale made national headlines for looting that occurred at Scottsdale Fashion Square. According to Independent Newsmedia archives, the tragic event that wreaked havoc on local businesses occurred succeeding protests in Phoenix concerning the death of George Floyd. The looting attacks had no ties to local African-American associations and did not align with their goals of the protests.

Business owners and residents alike have shared their grievances over the detrimental impact the city faced from those incidents. A concern for local businesses and their recovery as well as safety concerns for people of color rose to prominence as an issue to those in the community.

Along with the rising racial tensions, the minds of many have been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the nation. With confirmed cases going down, residents look forward to returning to daily life again and Mr. Ortega and Ms. Borowsky share similar sentiments. A plan to proceed with day-to-day operations despite the raging virus is a top priority for each of them.

With each candidate having previous experience sitting on the council under their belts, both feel fully equipped to tackle problems they hear and see in the community.

David Ortega

•After looting in Scottsdale garnered national attention following protests for George Floyd’s death, how important is making sure the city is welcoming to people of all backgrounds?
First of all, throughout my life in the city over the last 40 years, I have always felt that equality, justice, the end of discrimination, and sexism is a core value of mine. And I believe it’s a core value of the city of Scottsdale. However, this erupted at the national level. I think that Scottsdale is a very special place, and we have our own countermeasures, and I’ve been a part of that for over 30 years here in Scottsdale. We had a community gathering and conversation in the early 90s that I was a part of called Erase Hate. It included ecumenical partners, the city of Scottsdale, school district, anti-defamation league. And that’s a core value that we expect open hospitality and that’s what the whole goal is I believe of our hospitality centered city. That’s the image that I promote and that I’ve lived.
I believe that this community dialogue has to [be brought] back. We all have policies, but I think it’s a good time to reexamine that dialogue and as a whole community [to] strive for equality, fairness, and discrimination. I expect to be very engaged as mayor and I know that I can bring my special heritage and awareness and involvement [to] just listen to the community express themselves.

•How do you plan on keeping the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic from further impacting the city while also following through with your promised plans?
First of all, it’s a team effort. I look forward to working with the new City Council. Every council member will bring their talents and their experience to work on policies together. I have a pretty direct business approach; I’ve lived here for 41 years; I’ve built buildings that contain a lot of value and a lot of our opportunities for entrepreneurs. The question is how are we going to deal with the pandemic or the fallout repercussions of that. I believe in Scottsdale.
I believe that we are eager to just explode forward in a very prosperous way. So when this pandemic starts to clear up and as it starts to clear up, I know that the Scottsdale character in all its divisions is going to do it. My architecture has been landmark architecture. I made buildings that became postcards and that’s why people have such a great image of Scottsdale internationally, regionally, and locally. So that’s a human scale that’s so important for our identity as well as the open spaces, so that’s a wonderful character. So those actors are all ours are all unique.
COVID-19 is teaching the same lesson by teaching the world to turn away from densely packed, tall buildings, cramped transit, and being boxed into six passenger elevators and turn to places where there’s open space, low profile, low density, parks, and beautiful scenery.

All that is Scottsdale and that’s why so many people are coming here. The new COVID-19 culture actually accelerated the work from home and remote learning process. All [of those aspects were] already evolving. Courses were already online and people were working from home regularly. So now that it’s accelerated, should we jump into 12-story buildings again? They can build them in Phoenix all day long if they want to but they don’t have to do that to be successful.

We’ve been blessed living here in Scottsdale and I’ve made the most of that opportunity serving as a councilman and as a father. You know, it’s a great place to live. I think we have so much going for us that we’re going to be fantastic again. We already are one of the most desirable places and if you think we have it bad here because of the COVID-19 pandemic, check out other cities in a comparable size. I look forward to being a part of the effort battling the coronavirus and I want to really serve our city in an unselfish way.

•Reconnecting/connecting with citizens seems to be an important mission for both candidates, how are you going to engage residents who are not as well-informed on local issues?
The fracture of communication with City Hall was very evident for the last 10 years. I’ve written about that and that fracture was due to city hall kind of going on its own without real citizen authorization. It’s called the general plan. Like any relationship, let’s say you had a married couple and someone were to say, “Well, how long has it been since you’ve had a meaningful conversation?” And if the people said, “Well, we haven’t talked for a year or two years,” you’d know that they have a ruptured relationship and the same is true with our city.
The city council ruptured that communication relationship back in 2010-2011, in fact, my opponent was was a city councilman then. Their job was to gather, listen, gather, and formulate this plan. They didn’t get it done and so for 10 years our communication with the average business owner, the schools, and all these other stakeholders have been fractured and that’s why we have this culmination today of discontent with City Hall and that why we have the referendums and initiatives that are the only recourse for the citizen. We don’t want 12 story buildings downtown; get the message. Here’s a referendum here’s 17,000 signatures to tell you we don’t like it. We don’t like what you’re doing.

If people are disenfranchised and I know it because I talk to people on the street all the time, and I’m in the business world and they express it. And that’s the rebellion that unfortunately poor communication has fostered so I know. I mean I’m trained to listen I’m trained to take notes. It’s not that people have lost perspectives, but when you shut the door and all they listen to are the speculators and developers that want apartments everywhere and 12 story buildings. You know that’s not the Scottsdale way and I plan to bring that back and I have the skills to do that. One of the biggest assets, besides my planner architect’s skills, is that I will devote 100% full time as mayor. Scottsdale has been very good to us and I’m not going to be a part-time listener.

Lisa Borowsky

•After looting in Scottsdale garnered national attention following protests for George Floyd’s death, how important is making sure the city is welcoming to people of all backgrounds?
Most importantly, people must know they are safe in Scottsdale. All visitors, residents, and business owners must be treated equally, feel welcomed, and valued while in our City. We are well known as a top hospitality destination. When people come to Scottsdale, they experience a relaxed and friendly environment which is driven by our residents, businesses, and hospitality centered events and venues. I will continue to support, encourage, and, where the City is concerned, insist upon a welcoming and safe environment.

•How do you plan on keeping the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic from further impacting the city while also following through with your promised plans?
As Mayor, my top priority will be to run a safe and efficient city that is fiscally responsible, transparent, and accountable for the benefit of our citizens. As for my specific Reform Agenda, I will get to work to implement those goals on day one of taking office. Fortunately, our numbers are down, and with a healthy combination of re-opening and proceeding with caution, we can continue that trend. My Reform Agenda goals center upon transparency, accountability and greater citizen involvement, all of which can be accomplished while safely engaging in the process. To that end, I do not foresee the virus negatively impacting the ability to implement my goals.

•Reconnecting/connecting with citizens seems to be an important mission for both candidates, how are you going to engage residents who are not as well-informed on local issues?
The best course for engaging our citizens is to bring city decisions directly to individual area residents who stand to be impacted by the issues presented. My Reform Agenda includes implementing Council districting and forming Neighborhood Advisory Panels. Both proposals are dedicated to fostering direct citizen involvement which encourages residents to contribute critical input prior to decisions being made by the Council. Panel members will be empowered to engage and educate their immediate community on issues affecting their area. Doing so will diffuse controversial matters and provide a real opportunity for citizen involvement in negotiations where significant opposition exists. Everyone that wants a voice at City Hall will have that opportunity which will eliminate the feeling of being left out of the process and promote community “buy-in.”

Reporter Caroline Yu can be contacted at cyu@newszap.com

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