(Author’s disclosure: Until now and only after the race, I have minimized commenting on the Mesa Mayor’s race to avoid using the blogosphere as a means to promote one candidate over another. During the race, I served as the campaign manager for the Rex Griswold Campaign Committee.)
Tuesday, Mesa voters elected a “newcomer” as Mayor of Arizona’s 3rd largest city. Scott Smith won handily beating Rex Griswold, 55% (26,094) to 45% (20,610). I say “newcomer” because Scott Smith has actually been around Mesa for some time as a developer and chairman of Mesa United Way. Throughout the election, Smith was successful in rounding up almost every major endorsement from Mesa politicians including, County Supervisor Don Stapley, State Representatives Kirk Adams, Russell Pearce and almost every city council member.
Rex Griswold, the former owner of popular Anzio Landing, and district five councilman, resigned from his seat under Arizona’s “Resign to Run” law and entered the race last September. Griswold ran on a platform of experience in business and government experience. He was also able to garnish many endorsements but not from the Mesa political establishment.
Smith raised almost $200,000 of which $87,000 was from his own personal loans. Griswold raised just over $100,000 of which he loaned $17,710 to the campaign. Griswold was obviously outspent 2:1.
While Smith ran on a platform of being the outsider, his endorsements and donations clearly reveal that he had the Mesa political establishment behind him. Griswold attempted to run as a reformer but was tainted by Smith as an ineffective councilman. This came up during the most visible skirmish over MD Helicopters.
In the end, while Smith’s endorsements and fundraising abilities played a role, the major factor in his victory was that the voters of Mesa simply wanted someone new. (The Mayor and Council now seats five new members out of seven.)
On behalf of the Rex Griswold Committee, I congratulate Scott Smith and wish him the best and all our support as our next Mayor of Mesa.