Election 2020

Stress: How will Scottsdale City Council candidates handle public pressure?

Posted 9/24/20

As with any job, serving on Scottsdale City Council — a public, four-year gig — comes with challenges from a busy schedule to long meetings, stressful situations and everything in …

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Election 2020

Stress: How will Scottsdale City Council candidates handle public pressure?

Posted

As with any job, serving on Scottsdale City Council — a public, four-year gig — comes with challenges from a busy schedule to long meetings, stressful situations and everything in between.

In this week’s City Council Q&A, the Scottsdale candidates are asked about intricacies of the job.

Beyond pressure of representing 255,000 residents, the candidates elected in November will remain on the council until 2024, barring no unforeseen changes.

The six City Council candidates running to fill three open seats are:

  • Tammy Caputi
  • Tom Durham
  • Betty Janik
  • Becca Linnig
  • John Little
  • Guy Phillips.

Meanwhile Dave Ortega and Lisa Borowksy are running for mayor of Scottsdale.

The Independent is hosting Q&A sessions with candidates for both offices leading up to the general election. Read below for perspective from the City Council candidates.

Becca Linnig did not respond to this week’s three questions at the time of publication.

Tom Durham

•If elected, your term will be 2021-24. As we all know, the future is unpredictable, and 2024 could be a vastly different world — or at least a different Scottsdale. Do you have the diverse skill set to lead Scottsdale through an unpredictable future?

Yes. I was a lawyer for 35 years, and so I am skilled in breaking down tough issues and knowing the right questions to ask. I think the analysis of both the applicants coming before the Council and the staff itself needs to be subject to probing questions in order to determine what is the best resolution for the people of Scottsdale. I have the skills to do that. In addition, I was a tax lawyer, so much of my career was spent in reviewing economic analysis performed by expert witnesses, and I have a good understanding of finance and economics. Finally, through my leadership in Proposition 420, I have shown that I understand the people of Scottsdale and will fight to make a difference on their behalf. These skills will enable me to deal with whatever the next four years throw at us.

•How do you deal with stress?

Our dog, Bentley (a goldendoodle), hears our garage door opening and greets us at the door whenever we come home. He’s a great stress reliever. He often asks for tummy rubs, which is great for both of us. Riding my bike is another way I deal with stress. I have had some of my best ideas while riding my bike. Unfortunately, with this summer’s heat, I haven’t been able to ride as much as I would like. Getting together with friends and family is another great antidote to stress. We are beginning in-person worship services again, under social distancing rules of course, and it has been great to see people I missed for six months.

•From what you know of the job, what do you believe will be the most challenging part of serving on the Scottsdale City Council? What are you most looking forward to?

I intend to treat the City Council as a full-time job. The most difficult part of the job will likely be digging through mounds of information to find solutions that are best for the citizens of Scottsdale. While this will be difficult, it is also something I relish because that is what I did as a lawyer and I am looking forward to employing those skills again. I am most looking forward to meeting with citizens and doing my best to understand and represent their views on what will make Scottsdale an even greater place to live.

Betty Janik

•If elected, your term will be 2021-24. As we all know, the future is unpredictable, and 2024 could be a vastly different world — or at least a different Scottsdale. Do you have the diverse skill set to lead Scottsdale through an unpredictable future?

No one can predict the future and no one has all the answers. Just look at 2020 with over three more months to go. The methodology I use to problem-solve transcends time and place. It is the way scientists approach a new situation/problem. Gather objective information from reputable sources, check to see if others have had similar problems and how they resolved them, consider opinions from all sides of a position, and finally, consult with trusted individuals with experience in the field. In other words, do your homework before you proceed. I do have the skills needed to respond to an unpredictable future. I have support from a diverse group of citizens who trust me. With their support, we can overcome any challenge.

•How do you deal with stress?

The best stress reliever for me is exercise. I take long walks in my neighborhood, hike in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, or ride my bike on the Indian Bend Wash Trail. I enjoy these activities in good times and even more in stressful times.

•From what you know of the job, what do you believe will be the most challenging part of serving on the Scottsdale City Council? What are you most looking forward to?

Change what you can, accept what you can’t and have the wisdom to know the difference. Having the wisdom to know the difference is the tricky part. I am looking forward to meeting the citizens of Scottsdale and working with them to realize their vision for our vibrant city, Scottsdale.

John Little

•If elected, your term will be 2021-24. As we all know, the future is unpredictable, and 2024 could be a vastly different world — or at least a different Scottsdale. Do you have the diverse skill set to lead Scottsdale through an unpredictable future?

Albert Einstein was famously quoted as saying “The only source of knowledge is experience.” Elected leaders must possess a breadth and depth of skill honed by real life experiences. I have over 40 years of public-sector and private-sector leadership. I know that campaigning is way different than governing. Campaigning is easy because any candidate can tout their knowledge.

Governing, on the other hand, is hard because it requires the application of knowledge.

Scottsdale voters know that I am “job ready.” I have no learning curve. My learning curve began over 40 years ago when I first entered public service. My specific skills include the ability to collaborate, compromise, advocate, lead, listen and learn. These are the real skills necessary to accomplish anything in the public policy arena. People forget that it takes four votes to accomplish anything of value. Without the skills that contribute to functioning effectively as a team, the traditional skills of planning, budgeting, organizing and directing have little value. I am confident I have a complete set of skills necessary to be effective no matter how difficult the challenge.

•How do you deal with stress?

It is important to put stress in some meaningful context. Let’s be clear, campaigning is not stressful, but being told you have cancer is. Public service is not stressful, but losing a child is.

Because I have been through all these things I can tell you that there is no situation imaginable that can unsettle me at this point in my life. I do however acutely feel the stress of our citizens trying to keep their children healthy and working hard to maintain their jobs or keep their businesses open during these challenging times. I understand their fears and anxieties, I feel their pain, I hear their voices. For those of us who have experienced profound loss, we understand one of the most healing things to do is to reach out and help others. That is one of the central reasons I am running for public office.

•From what you know of the job, what do you believe will be the most challenging part of being on the Scottsdale City Council?

Having worked with four mayors and dozens of City Council members for over 20 years, the most challenging part of the job is dealing with the frustration that comes from our natural inclination to try and please everyone. In public service you quickly realize it is not possible to always create win-win solutions.

A calm demeanor coupled with diplomacy are pretty good antidotes. The public doesn’t expect elected officials to have all the answers, but they do expect them to be really good listeners. Mayor Drinkwater used to tell city staff that “while not everyone who comes in city hall will leave with what they wanted, there will never be a single person that leaves city hall without their dignity.”

•What are you most looking forward to?

I am pretty “old school” when it comes to public service. I am excited to meet people in their spaces, in their homes and businesses. I want to hear their voices and respond to their concerns and help them connect to the government that is here to serve them. I want to seek out the people whose voices are not being heard, whose complaints have gone unanswered and who feel like they’ve been forgotten or ignored.

Guy Phillips

•If elected, your term will be 2021-24. As we all know, the future is unpredictable, and 2024 could be a vastly different world — or at least a different Scottsdale. Do you have the diverse skill set to lead Scottsdale through an unpredictable future?

Being the only candidate who has served on the council for the past eight years gives me the experience and knowledge needed to guide Scottsdale into the future. My work with residents and business owners as well as running my own business is vital in determining what direction we need to go. Having new, inexperienced people on the council will only drag out the process and could undermine our recovery.

•How do you deal with stress?

My wife, children and my constituents are my stress relievers. Their support and kind words are what keeps me going. Of course, our doggies are always there too!

•From what you know of the job, what do you believe will be the most challenging part of serving on the Scottsdale City Council? What are you most looking forward to?

It depends on who is elected. If the wrong people get elected we could be dealing with issues such as defunding police and raising taxes for social reform. That’s why people need to know what party they are voting for. It’s not the person, but the policy. I pray the voters elect a constitutional city council that puts residents first and promotes tourism to keep our taxes low.

Tammy Caputi

•If elected, your term will be 2021-24. As we all know, the future is unpredictable, and 2024 could be a vastly different world — or at least a different Scottsdale. Do you have the diverse skill set to lead Scottsdale through an unpredictable future?

I’m a Scottsdale homeowner, business owner and parent of three children in our local schools. I’m active in civic groups, my faith community and have built relationships with our citizens all across the city. I served three years on the Development Review Board overseeing the quality of development in our city. I understand our standards and guidelines and character area plans. I know the city staff, business community and property owners, attorneys and physicians, civic groups and concerned citizens. I have a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA, and I’m a fellow with the Flinn Brown Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, which brings together a network of policy experts and leaders from all over the state.

As the Chair of SCOTT (Scottsdale Coalition of Today and Tomorrow) I gather every week with a diverse group of civic and business leaders, educators and concerned citizens from all over our community to discuss issues important to our city. In order for our city to recover, it’s imperative that our leaders have a broad and deep network, and can work collaboratively with our citizens and business leaders across our community.

For the past 20 years, I have owned and operated a company that provides electrical materials for commercial construction projects. I keep large projects like the renovation of Terminal 3 at Sky Harbor Airport and ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium on time and in budget. Every day presents challenging situations. I have to coordinate multiple global supply chains, continually changing conditions in the field, deadlines and a myriad of product details. I also have to be able to pivot to different sectors during recessions in order to remain in business and remain successful. The ability to stay flexible, nimble and continually readjust to changing conditions is a skill I have nearly perfected, and one that will be invaluable leading Scottsdale through changing economic conditions.

•How do you deal with stress?

I make time to exercise every day. I do my best thinking in the gym or on a run in our Preserve. I also make time every day to enjoy my family — nothing is better than a hug from my precious daughters or my beloved husband — I am grateful for their love and support. I have a large network of friends and mentors who bring out the best in me and make me laugh.

Most importantly, I work in a high-stress job where critical problems arise every day. I successfully manage my company, my employees, my children, my position as chair of a civic board, involvement in my temple and various other roles and responsibilities every day; if you want something done, give it to a busy person! I have learned to thrive under stress — a skill set that will be extremely useful as a member of our city council, managing a billion dollar budget and continually evolving issues.

•From what you know of the job, what do you believe will be the most challenging part of serving on the Scottsdale City Council? What are you most looking forward to?

The biggest challenge will be managing the interests and interactions of the many different groups who are all vested in our city: residents, city staff, business and education groups, civic leaders, and fellow council members, all with different perspectives, experiences and personalities. It will be important to balance the details and keep a big picture perspective of how the parts fit into the whole, maintaining quality of life and continued success for Scottsdale. I’ve spent many years preparing for this challenge: I am motivated, energized, and ready to take it on!

If I have the honor to serve on our City Council, I am most looking forward to bringing people together. I want to set a positive example as a leader of a golden rule city, and a role model for our children and others.

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