Tempe’s Private Little Fiscal Cliff

By Michael Gibbs

Lemmings

What Tempe Council believes

I can’t think of the right adjective to use. Discouraged? Shocked? Appalled? Dismayed? Incredulous? That’s how this week’s Tempe City Council candidate forum left me feeling.

At one point candidate Matt Papke responded to a question by expressing concern about the city’s finances. Several current members of the council dismissed the issue by telling the audience that, by law, the budget has to be balanced. The attitude went beyond nonchalant–they implied that the city’s debt is a GOOD thing.

When Papke showed that in the last ten years alone Tempe’s debt has increased three-fold to nearly three quarters of a billion dollars his opponents made fun of him and one even asked if he had a mortgage on his house. Another stated flatly that you cannot run a city without incurring debt.

It’s this kind of thinking that has driven the entire nation to a $17 trillion dollar deficit, the only difference being that Tempe doesn’t have a printing press in the basement to make more dollars! No wonder Tempe is digging an ever deeper hole despite having the highest property taxes in the valley–it’s run by a bunch of profligates with no regard for their fiscal responsibilities. The spendthrifts in Detroit must be very proud to have Tempe following in their footsteps.

Tempe Council Candidate Matthew Papke Leads The Pack In Cash On Hand

On the verge of the deadline to file for Tempe City Council tomorrow – Wednesday, May 28th – the number of candidates who have qualified for the ballot (pending any challenges) has increased to four. The list now includes left-wing activist Lauren Kuby, current council member, Robin Arredondo-Savage, Ernesto Fonseca and independent conservative activist, Matthew Papke. Both Kuby and Papke qualified for the ballot early in the process.

While Kuby may be the current favorite among liberal political circles, her latest campaign finance report reveals she is running third place when it comes to cash on hand. Slightly ahead of her is Arredondo-Savage who is seeking re-election and obviously holds an incumbent advantage.

But what is most surprising is the fundraising capacity of Matthew Papke who dwarfs his rivals with cash on hand. The non-establishment political newcomer has apparently caught lightning in a bottle raising a total of $65,742 since entering the race from a widespread base of support. According to his latest finance report, he currently has nearly $50,000 cash on hand.

What’s even more interesting is that this former US Marine is flying below the radar of both local reporters and the Republican establishment – probably because all eyes are focused on the ninth congressional district, statewide races and the multitude of legislative races.

Papke, who recently became a new father, is well-invested in the community having grown up in Tempe and now working among fellow Tempeans. His platform includes reducing the level of crime in Tempe – currently, the highest in the east valley; balancing the city budget and eliminating the tax on food (Mesa is the only east valley community with no tax on food).

Other candidates seeking the three available seats include current council member Shana Ellis, former legislator David Schapira, Republican Dick Foreman and Ernesto Fonseca.

Here are the current cash on hand tallies in the City of Tempe Council race:

Matthew Papke:    $49,034
Robin Arredondo-Savage:    $31,350
Lauren Kuby:    $30,030
Shana Ellis:    $25,124
David Schapira:    $7,232
Dick Foreman:    $3,441
Ernesto Fonseca:    $550

Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman Statement on the Decision Not to Seek Re-Election

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 17, 2011
CONTACT: Jason Rose

(Tempe, AZ) – The City of Tempe has done very well in the last seven years despite two recessions, one mild and one that deserves the term “the Great Recession.” Tempe’s fiscal house is in good order, our employees have met the challenges of doing more with less, and our leadership is forward-thinking, proactive and conservative in planning, but also aggressive in pursuing and capturing new opportunities. Our current condition, community character and quality of life are the envy of the State and much of the Country. With future opportunities of which we are nearly perfectly positioned to take advantage, Tempe is a community poised to reach an even brighter future.

Despite all that we have done and continue to do, our community, Tempe, is a captive of the leadership that now rules the direction and future of our Great State of Arizona. As hard as we might work to address every challenge presented to Tempe, we are limited in the results Tempe can achieve because of the limitations of vision and ability of many who are dictating our State’s direction. In the coming years, I will continue to commit myself to address the State’s need for leadership and to assist those who demonstrate a capacity and vision to build on the greatness of this State and its people.

Further, I have committed myself for the next year to continue addressing the issues facing Tempe that only can be addressed by working regionally. Tempe’s access to a fair share of federal dollars for roads and highways currently is at significant risk due to the arcane and bizarre federal rules governing air quality, and yet this challenge only can be met through the regional work conducted by the Maricopa Association of Governments, of which I currently am Vice Chair and for which I will provide service as Chairman for the next year. Beyond such “formal” work, the economic development of Tempe is inextricably tied to the successes and failures of Phoenix, certainly, but perhaps more, to the opportunities and challenges faced by our fellow East Valley cities. Success in these, and other, regional efforts are essential to Tempe’s future success. These efforts will take significant time and effort on behalf of Tempe.

We also are approaching the time for an election of a citizen who will provide the leadership for our community as Mayor, as well as an election of three others to serve on this Tempe Council. Such an election should encourage the full discussion of policy and capacities of those who seek to govern on behalf of the residents of this Great Arizona City. Further, with my parents’ principles and ethics as my guide, I also believe that these positions of trust should not be considered any form of “birthright” or be too long held. As we observe in far too many examples, longevity breeds arrogance, and arrogance breeds corruption. In such light, and with the knowledge that Tempe is well placed for the future, understanding the constraints imposed on directing important regional work while also seeking election, and recognizing that the future of our City and State may compel me to offer leadership in a broader capacity, I believe it appropriate now to apprise our community of my resolution that I will not seek reelection as Mayor of Tempe.

This has been a difficult decision to make, but I make this decision with my great thanks, love and affection, first to my wife and family for accepting the burdens of my service, and then to the great staff members of Tempe and all of my many friends and supporters who have provided such full encouragement and assistance during my years in elected office and other service to this community that, cumulatively, exceeds two decades. Our successes have been as a result of great effort by many, and for any failures I hope our community will forgive me my limitations. I remain grateful for the opportunity to have been of some service to our community.

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