Scottsdale is a world-class metropolitan city, yet it runs its City Council races like a small desert outpost.
Citizen commissions have recommended changing Scottsdale’s elections from at-large to districts for two decades. We have waited long enough for those elected by the status quo to implement this necessary change. It is time for Scottsdale residents to take matters into their own hands and bring the question to a vote in the November election.
Benefits of districts include:
Districts will ensure all of Scottsdale is represented on the council, not just one part of town. Currently, all City Councilmembers live north of the Shea Corridor, while most Scottsdale residents live south of the corridor. Different parts of the city have different issues and needs and should be represented on council.
Districts will make it easier for residents to have their issues heard by the council. By decreasing the number of constituents each City Council member represents, it will be easier for residents to have their voices heard, and it will ensure their representatives are familiar with residents’ local concerns.
Districts will make elections more straightforward. Currently, voters are asked to choose “up to three” council members each election. Most only vote for one person, with only about 2% of Scottsdale voters finishing this portion of the ballot. Clearly, the at-large elections are not fully engaging voters. Candidates also regularly ask their supporters to only vote for them — encouraging undervote.
Districts can reduce outside spending in elections. Scottsdale elections are getting expensive. In 2020, some candidates spent more than a quarter-million dollars to reach voters. With high price tags like this, candidates can be attracted to big donations from special interest groups such as developers and unions.
Reducing the size of elections will help reign in outside spending while also making running for City Council easier for more Scottsdale residents.
The 3-2-ONE Scottsdale group is circulating a petition that will bring more direct representation to Scottsdale. Three districts: central, north, and south, will be drawn based on geography and have about 80,000 residents each.
Each district will have two City Councilmembers, elected in staggered terms. This means you will vote for one candidate for City Council every election, just like you most likely already do.
Three districts with two representatives each were recommended back in 2003. The system made sense then, and it makes sense now. First, the question must qualify for the ballot. We need your help to gather the necessary signatures for that to happen. Visit 32ONEScottsdale.com to sign up as a volunteer. Together, we can bring equal representation to Scottsdale.
Editor’s Note: Paul Simonson is a Scottsdale resident and the chairman of 3-2-ONE political action committee.
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