Phoenix election results: Republicans prepare to retake Phoenix

Yesterday, the City of Phoenix wrapped up its first round of elections by finalizing who will fill at least three council seats.

(See Results)

Former State Senator, Jim Waring and current councilmen, Bill Gates and Michael Nowakowski easily won their primaries with Waring overcoming interim councilman Bryan Jeffries and Gates fending off a challenge by Steven Gross. Both districts traditionally elect Republicans but in District 7, Democrat Michael Nowakowski won handily against conservative populist challenger, Janet Contreras.

In District 1, it appears that incumbent Thelda Williams may hold on to the 50% plus one votes to win re-election from newcomer conservative challenger, Eric Frederick. Frederick’s supporters are holding out hope that uncounted ballots will deprive Williams the 50% plus one margin for Frederick to continue into a runoff election against her. Ballots will continue to be counted with an unofficial final result announced Friday.

Union-supported Democrat Daniel Valuenzuela may have anchored 42% of the vote in Council District Five but he most certainly will face a runoff against either Republicans Brenda Sperduti or Eric Sloan. At last count, only 27 votes separated both Republicans with Sperduti holding the lead. Tea Party activists had high hopes for Charlie Ellis who finished in 4th place.

But the real excitement occurred in the Phoenix Mayor’s race where Democrat Greg Stanton won almost 38% of the vote. Grouped behind him were five Republicans who combined, secured the remaining 62% of the vote. Republican Wes Gullett captured the highest number of votes at 20.54% guaranteeing him a spot in the runoff election. Following Gullett, were former councilmen Peggy Neely and Claude Mattox. Tea Party candidate, Jennifer Wright, who entered the race at the last minute finished with 11.47% of the vote with unknown Anna Brennan finishing last with almost 5% of the vote.

Republicans now have clear choices in the runoff election to be held in November with Wes Gullett at the head of the ticket. (Incidentally, I believe we broke the story of Wes Gullett entering the mayor’s race right here on Sonoran Alliance.)

Greg Stanton is known as a progressive San Francisco-style liberal Democrat which allows Wes Gullett to run the remainder of the campaign demonstrating a far more mainstream approach of governing the 6th most populated city in America. If Republicans consolidate votes from each of the other campaigns behind Wes Gullett, it is very likely Gullett will be the next Mayor of Phoenix.

Now my editorial.

It’s time to solidify support behind Wes Gullett. Phoenicians cannot afford a liberal progressive mayor like Greg Stanton. Stanton would bring a San Francisco, Gavin Newsom governing-style to Phoenix which would ultimately bankrupt the city. The good news is that Councilman Sal DiCiccio and Bill Gates have another conservative voice and ally on the council in Jim Waring. Should Thelda Williams win re-election (which appears likely) having Jim Waring join the team of conservatives will hopefully put pressure on Thelda to behave herself on votes regarding taxes on water, food and corporate subsidies.

Heading into the runoff set for November will be an exciting exercise in rallying behind a mayoral candidate who is dramatically ideologically different from his liberal Democratic opponent. Depending on who earns second place in district five will may also spark some excitement. Republican Eric Sloan could turn that race into a union vs the taxpayers campaign but a Sperduti win would deflate conservative hopes for reform against the union candidate, Valenzuela.

For those who find their campaigns at the end of the line, don’t rule them out of future political endeavors. This may very well be the beginning for several of them. Politics is oftentimes seen as a war of ideas and their campaigns may only be one battle in the effort to win the overall war.

Congratulations to Wes Gullett, Jim Waring, Bill Gates and the Democratic opponents! Thanks to those who gave it their best effort: Peggy Neely, Claude Mattox, and Jennifer Wright. Now it’s on to the runoff election in November in the battle for Phoenix.

Gas Wars: Citizens Against Neighborhood Encroachment or Citizens Against American Business Competition

“QuikTrip officials have said they are not experienced campaigners because they have never had a gas-station issue end up on a ballot.”Arizona Republic

Who doesn’t like QuikTrip?  Cheap gas.  Tasty drinks.  Well, apparently a local Chevron franchise owner working with local political consultant Jason Rose feels otherwise.

 

 

Citizens Against Neighborhood Encroachment is a political action committee financed by Takhar Associates Investment Group. The Takhar family owns the investment group and conveniently owns a trailer park and Chevron gas station at McDowell Road and 44th Street, just a .5 mile jaunt south of the QuikTrip proposed for the northwest corner of 44th Street and Palm Lane.

 

Political action committee names are always very humorous, often concealing their true motivations behind puff language and creative acronyms. Citizens Against Neighborhood Encroachment sounds like it would comprise of concerned Phoenix citizens opposed to some sinister land plot. One would have to look behind the name to see that this group’s true motivations boil down to passing a ballot proposition that would eliminate the threat of a business competitor.

“The Takhars have said they aren’t afraid of competition. They are focused on the cost of land. They said they paid more than $3.5 million for the trailer-park and gas-station properties in the east Phoenix neighborhood, but that QuikTrip is buying property for much less because the land on Palm Lane is zoned for homes, not businesses.”

In a statement to CBS 5 News, owner Rajinder K. Takhar said: “It (Prop 2) changes the rules for a massive corporation to hurt our small businesses and those of the single family neighborhoods in the area. Liquor, gas and convenience stores should go on commercially planned land not in the middle of single family neighborhoods, especially in a part of Phoenix that has 10 gas stations within a mile.”

The Takhars claim it is not about competition at all but an unfair price advantage in land. How is that any better? If land were truly a viable residential option, why has it remained vacant for over 20 years?  It is not about a “concern” for the “neighborhood” but instead about eliminating American business competition, the single force that allows the free market to operate properly. I thought the rule was the best product wins? According to Takhar family, that’s balderdash.

 

 

A ‘Yes’ vote on Proposition 2 would approve the rezoning of property located at the southwest corner of 44th Street and Palm Lane, currently zoned as residential, to permit a gas station and convenience store. A ‘No’ vote would leave that parcel as residential only.  A copy of Proposition 2 can be viewed here.

According to Mike Thornbrugh, a spokesman for QuikTrip:

“In 50 years of doing business we have never seen this before where you do all your due diligence, we made 13, 14, 15 changes to accommodate some of the concerns out there, and we have never had a competitor come in and spend this kind of money.”

Opponents of Proposition 2 would like to present this struggle as a “David vs. Goliath” type effort.  Fighting a multi-billion dollar corporation looking to locate a business in their quaint neighborhood.  According to Citizens Against Neighborhood Encroachment:

“An out-of-state corporation, out-of-state property owner and influential lobbyist convinced the Phoenix City Council to change the rules and allow a liquor, gas and convenience store, operating 24hours per day, 7 days a week, to go into the middle of an East Phoenix neighborhood, on land that was long-planned for residential.”

But who are the REAL opponents?

According to the Arizona Republic:

In its statement of organization, the PAC said it got a $51,500 loan from Enterprise Bank and Trust late last year.

About $50,000 of the loan covered the residents’ fees for Summit Consulting Group, which gathered more than the 9,798 signatures the residents needed for a voter referendum to fight the QuikTrip.

Summit Consulting is a professional consulting firm that manages campaigns and political candidates including running the YES on Proposition 1 (Home Rule) campaign, to contracts with candidates such as Claude Mattox and Matt Salmon.  Jason Rose is arguably the biggest PR name in the Valley, and his services come with a hefty price tag.  Further, the $50,000 loan comes from the Takhar Associates Investment Group, an LLC owned by Rajinder Takhar.  Rajinder is the wife of Gurvinder Takhar, who illegally sold the Chevron station to his wife when he was convicted of tax evasion in 2002.

Apparently, the gas business has been very, very good to the Takhar’s, who own a $1.5 million dollar home in Moon Valley.  There is no doubt that they are aware of the fact that a new QT will affect their business and hurt their current profit margins as the closest gas station near the 202 freeway.

The most recent campaign filings for NO on Prop 2 at the Phoenix City Clerk Department show the loan came from Takhar Associates Investment Group, a Glendale limited-liability company whose owner, Rajinder Takhar, lives in Paradise Valley.  Again, these are the same Takhars who own and operate the Chevron at 44th Street and McDowell.

The Takhars also suggest their opposition to Prop 2 is a matter of concerns over congestion and public safety, trying to rally the neighborhood around the cause. As anyone who lives in the area or routinely drives by the proposed location knows, the area is already congested and the site has been nothing more than a vacant dirt lot for over 20 years.  The home directly across from the proposed QT site routinely has six plus cars parked in the driveway and the street including numerous cabs.  If there were ever a case to be made for an HOA, this is it.  Further, the Chevron located at 44th Street and McDowell trying to force QuikTrip out of the neighborhood is sadly a magnet for transients, taggers, meth addicts and bus stop hooligans.

A Clean Freak car wash already exists 100 yards to the south of the proposed site and a Costco exists another 100 yards to the north.  The idea that this area is exclusively residential is a stretch.  The addition of a new QuikTrip, which will provide a well-lit 24-hour business with new jobs and improve an already blighted property, should be considered a welcome addition to the area. The Phoenix City Council, along with the Planning Village and Planning and Zoning Committees, already approved the development of this property by QuikTrip.

 

Opponents of Proposition 2 recently claimed in a mailer that “a recent Arizona State University study found convenience stores such as Circle K and QuikTrips generate large numbers of calls about crime.”  Wouldn’t the same logic apply to the Takhars Chevron station?  However, in all fairness, the inclusion of QuikTrip in the mailer is not accurate.  The ASU study actually concluded that Circle K’s “comprised more than half of all police calls to convenience stores in Mesa, Glendale and Tempe in 2010, although the chain makes up no more than a third of convenience stores in each of the cities.”

Further, let’s look at the QuikTrip business model.  QuikTrip operates the “Safe Place” program, which is a national nonprofit organization that provides safety for troubled or threatened youth.

According to QT’s website:

Since 1991, QuikTrip has been a designated SafePlace, where runaways and at-risk youth can come in off the street, receive food and drink, and wait for a volunteer from a SafePlace agency partner to connect them with professional help or a place to stay until their situation is resolved.

More on the Safe Place program can be found here.  More on QT’s community involvement can be viewed here.

Need more proof? In February, QuikTrip was named one of the 100 Best Places to Work by Fortune magazine. It was QuikTrip’s fifth consecutive year on the list.

According to CSDecisions.com:

What’s even more impressive is that the honor comes at a time when gas prices are among the highest they have ever been, and competition from supermarkets and hypermarts is as fierce as ever.

Finally, as anyone who frequents QTs can easily recognize, the convenience stores are frequented by law enforcement.  It is my understanding that many QTs provide free coffee and even free food for police officers.  The Phoenix Police Department utilizes the QT station located at 16th Street and Highland as a police substation, routinely using the back parking lot as a mobile DUI-testing and booking station.  In Edwardsville, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri, I am personally aware of two QuikTrips that provide space in the back of their properties for police substations because the main police department station is located on the other side of town.

Does this sound like a bad addition to a neighborhood that struggles with crime?

Gurvinder Singh Takhar, the original owner of the Chevron station, apparently is no saint either, having been involved in a nasty family altercation that resulted in domestic violence charges and costly litigation.  Takhar also spent time in jail for tax evasion. Court records show he served five months in prison in 2002 and paid $40,000 in fines after he was convicted of felony attempted tax evasion. Phoenix police records show Gurvinder later was denied a liquor license for the AM/PM gas station in Phoenix that is now the Chevron operating under his wife’s name.

Takhar is also politically connected.  Takhar hosted a fundraiser for Peggy Neely at his lavish home back in 2010.  Neely opposes Proposition 2, along with the other candidates for Mayor.

The opposition to Proposition 2 from the mayoral candidates is likely due to the fact that NAILEM, the largest neighborhood group in the City of Phoenix, opposes the proposition.  A sure fire way to lose a large chunk of votes in a low turnout election in the City of Phoenix is to offend neighborhood groups.

There is nothing wrong with a community rallying together and putting forth a referendum to oppose zoning changes made at City Hall.  It is the purest form of democracy and the right of the community at the heart of this struggle.  In fact, it is believed that this is the first time a referendum will ever appear on a Phoenix City ballot.

However, in the same breath, this effort must also be viewed for what it truly is: one well-financed business owner using the political process and high priced consultants to put another private company out of business.

For more information, visit:

http://yesonquiktrip.com/

http://prop2stinks.com/

This piece  can be seen at Western Free Press with original comments here.

Western Free Press is dedicated to generating public dialogue on Arizona’s most important issues and figures.

Matt Salmon’s Union Connections

By Jean Valjean

Reposted from Western Free Press.

Matt Salmon seems to be playing both sides of the political fence. Salmon apparently is a Phoenix union supporter but a self-described “conservative” in Arizona’s East Valley.

Matt Salmon’s website home page welcomes you with this quote:

“Your financial support will help ensure my message of smaller government, fiscal responsibility and less taxes reaches every voter.” – Matt Salmon

Furthermore, Salmon markets himself as a “conservative.”

If this is true, why is Salmon, a supposed stalwart of conservatism, endorsing liberal union activist Claude Mattox for Mayor of Phoenix?

Matt Salmon’s firm, Upstream Consulting, represents government unions, specifically public employee unions in Arizona. These unions endorse Claude Mattox for Mayor of Phoenix. Salmon then endorses Claude Mattox. In turn, Salmon receives money from the unions. In addition, Salmon gets more ammunition against his primary opponents, specifically Kirk Adams.

Why? One reason is the unions hate Kirk Adams for spearheading pension reform in Arizona. Adams’ pension reform was the most ambitious in the country, targeting the public safety unions that Salmon represents. In fact, Arizona is on the union’s target list of states to “fight back” against.

This provides a unique solution for the unions and Matt Salmon. Salmon gets to capitalize on privately raising money from the unions, coordinating attacks on Salmon’s more anti-union primary opponents, while claiming he has nothing to do with the unions. The unions also get a more “friendly” candidate by eliminating old enemies.

While Kirk Adams was trying to pass pension reform and getting government sector spending in control with universities and unions, Matt Salmon was lobbying against these things. During Salmon’s lobbying tenure, he picked battles with the Goldwater Institute over corporate welfare, protected government public safety unions, and fought to protect ASU’s government gravy train.

Matt Salmon is receiving money from other union players. The list includes ex-union boss Billy Shields and union spokesman David Leibowitz.

Once again, why is Salmon endorsing union candidates and receiving union money? Why is Salmon suggesting he is a symbol of “smaller government” when there is no bigger symbol of “Big Government” than public-employee unions and their political candidates? Does Salmon really believe in these union backed candidates and issues or is it just “politics?” Do we want to reward politicians who take on political risks or those who take advantage of them?

This is a big issue that deserves more transparency and answers.

Skip Rimsza: Union Control of Phoenix City Hall at Stake in Phoenix Mayoral Race

We missed this one from a few days ago…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 5, 2011
CONTACT: Skip Rimsza

Phoenix voters will decide whether labor unions should continue to control City Hall when they vote for a new mayor next month, according to a letter written by former Mayor Skip Rimsza.

Rimsza, who served as Mayor from 1994 through 2004, called the upcoming mayoral contest a “watershed election where voters will decide who City Hall will serve.”

He said three of the candidates in the race, Greg Stanton, Claude Mattox and Wes Gullett all have ties to labor unions with a lot to gain from a Mayor sympathetic to their cause. But he said the interests of union bosses are not always the same as those of the city’s taxpayers.

He pointed to recent controversial actions as proof that union labor bosses are calling the shots within Phoenix city government, including the Council’s approval of pay raises amidst budget cuts and last year’s passage of an emergency food tax. Both decisions benefitted city labor unions.

“Mr. Mattox is supported by the largest public employee union in the city and stood with them by voting to support the food tax increase and the pay raises,” Rimsza noted.

“Mr. Gullett was a lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is the largest public employee union in the country. Nationally, they pushed for the boycott of Arizona. Locally, Mr. Gullett tried to get Maricopa County government to bargain with his union supporters,” he said.

“And Mr. Stanton was an ardent opponent of SB 1070 and is supported by several labor and union groups such as the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union and the AFL-CIO affiliate Maricopa Area Labor Federation, who together have stood against Arizona and supported boycotting the state,” Rimsza added.

Rimsza said the City has some of the best employees in the nation, who work hard to keep residents safe and to improve the quality of services despite budget constraints. “However, the Union Bosses, who feed off their union dues have become out of control because they are out to serve their best interest – not the taxpayers of Phoenix,” he warned.

Rimsza has endorsed Peggy Neely for Mayor and said in his letter that she is the only candidate “with a track record of asking hard questions, supporting fiscal responsibility and bringing people together, which has always been the culture of Phoenix leadership.”

Click here to read Rimsza’s Editorial.

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Peggy Neely: Look for the Union Label

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 6, 2011
CONTACT: Paul Bentz

Union ties to Stanton, Mattox, and Gullett put special interests before taxpayers.

PHOENIX – Tax increases. Pay raises. Boycotts. The taxpayers of Phoenix are under fire from organized labor union bosses. From the food tax increase to the boycott of the Major League Baseball All-star Game, union leaders have been hurting Phoenix while looking out for their own self interests. In this watershed race for Phoenix Mayor, voters have a choice between a candidate who will serve the taxpayers and those who will serve the special interests.

The Neely for Mayor Campaign launched a new video today titled, “Look for the Union Label.”

“We are at a crossroads. Voters can choose between someone who will represent their interests and someone who will serve the system,” said Peggy Neely, “Phoenix has a long track record of hiring skilled staff and offering quality services to the taxpayers. We have come to expect great things from the City of Phoenix and earned a respectable reputation. However, when the taxpayers start seeing actions such as cutting services while granting pay raises, it is clear that the system is serving itself. We need to make sure that union interests are not being put ahead of public services.”

Greg Stanton

  • Opposes SB1070
  • Endorsed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union – who helped lead the Arizona boycott
  • Endorsed by Maricopa Area Labor Federation – Affiliated with AFL-CIO which condemned SB1070
  • Would have voted for pay increases (Arizona Republic, June 8, 2011)

Claude Mattox

  • Supported by the largest public employee union in the City of Phoenix
  • Voted for the food tax increase
  • Supported this year’s budget and pay increases (Arizona Republic, June 8, 2011)

Lobbyist Wes Gullett

  • Worked for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to organize medical workers to unionize at Maricopa County Hospital
  • SEIU helped lead the Arizona Boycott
  • SEIU lead the effort to move Major League Baseball All-Star Game

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Friday Poll: The Race for Phoenix Mayor

 

This Friday’s poll is now up and we’re asking who you would vote for as Mayor of Phoenix. You can vote via our sidebar or by clicking here.

The poll will be up one week and will limit voting based on cookie/IP address.

If you have an idea for a poll, please email us at sonoranalliance@gmail.com.