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.

Broad Coalition of Support for Peggy Neely

For Immediate Release: August 17, 2011
Contact: Paul Bentz

Neely for Mayor continues to build governing coalition

PHOENIX – Since her announcement, Peggy Neely has put together a broad coalition of endorsements including Governor Jan Brewer, Former Mayor Skip Rimsza, Councilmember Michael Johnson, Councilmember Sal DiCiccio, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, Former US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, Mayors from across the Valley, and many others.

These endorsements represent a wide spectrum of support and including some who haven’t always seen eye to eye. However, one thing they all agree on is Peggy Neely – which reiterates her ability to bring all sides together to support a common cause.

Neely’s endorsements include:

  • Governor Jan Brewer
  • Former Mayor Skip Rimsza
  • Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck
  • Carefree Mayor David Schwan
  • Cave Creek Mayor Vince Francia
  • North Richland Hills, Texas Mayor Oscar Trevino
  • Surprise Mayor Lyn Truitt
  • Councilmember Michael Johnson
  • Councilmember Sal DiCiccio
  • Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox
  • Former US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters
  • Former Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen

Support for Neely ranges from her support of true reform to her commitment to the community. Many focused on her track record of supporting quality jobs and creating an environment to attract employers.

“I have admired Peggy Neely’s record of job creation and her devotion to government reform,” stated Governor Brewer. “With the passage of Arizona’s economic competitiveness package and the creation of the Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona needs experienced leaders who are dedicated to public-private partnerships and job creation. Peggy fits that bill and has my full support. I look forward to working with her on Arizona’s comeback.”

“From the beginning Peggy and I have worked closely together to bring jobs and business to the City,” said Councilmember Michael Johnson, “She is a dedicated public servant who puts the residents of Phoenix first every day.”

“I am proud of my track record of bringing people together to build consensus and find solutions,” said Neely, “Phoenix has been a well-run city and a place we can all be proud of, but it is time to do more. I am looking forward to working with them to build a coalition dedicated to improving our city.”

Former Mayor Skip Rimsza concluded, “Peggy Neely is proving she can bring people together to find solutions. She is building a strong coalition for the City of Phoenix dedicated to serving the taxpayers.”

-30-

Lobbyist Reform Needed Now More Than Ever

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 16, 2011
CONTACT: Paul Bentz

“Lobbyist Gullett continues to put special interests before public interest.” 

PHOENIX – Boycotts. Casino gaming. Union interests. Lobbyist Wes Gullett has made a career as a political insider – taking taxpayer funded contracts from public institutions, donating thousands to democrats who opposed SB1070, working on behalf of organized labor, and ballot measures to increase taxes. Last night at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Debate, Gullett once again stated that he would keep interest in his lobbying firm if elected Mayor.

“Today, more than ever, special interest groups are trying to buy influence through lobbyists and insiders working behind closed doors,” said Former Mayor Skip Rimsza, “And the best way to cure this problem is with a healthy dose of sunshine and openness. We need real reform at City Hall.”

Peggy Neely announced the comprehensive charter review as part of her real reforms for the City of Phoenix. The goal is to comprehensively review the charter and modernize it to reflect the realities of today and the prospects and opportunities for tomorrow. These reforms should focus on accountability, wisdom, accessibility, representation and ethics (A.W.A.R.E.) and focusing on opening up City Hall to a greater degree of public scrutiny and fostering a more open and transparent dialogue among elected and appointed leaders. Phoenix residents should have the opportunity to be more aware of what is going on in their community.

“We need more transparency in government. We don’t even know who Mr. Gullett’s clients are. How could the taxpayers ever trust he was serving them instead of himself?” questioned Peggy Neely, “Lobbyist reform is needed now more than ever and that is why it is part of the AWARE program.”

Two of the proposed AWARE reforms include:

• Lobbyist reform: Lobbyist registrations should be posted online in a searchable database by lobbyist and by client. The database should also include increased financial reporting requirements – for example, gifts and meals for commission members should be reported just as they are for elected officials.

• Strengthen the conflict of interest policy: Develop a stronger and clearer conflict of interest policy statement that will clearly point out the minimum requirements any elected official and those appointed by the elected body are to abide by. I would also include those who serve on boards and commissions. There should be no loophole, ambiguity or general lack of clarity that all of us who serve the will of the people should be expected to follow. In addition, there should be strong monetary sanctions and the risk of removal from the position imposed on anyone found to be guilty of violating the public trust in their capacity as public servants.

“We need real reform – voters are looking for a leader who will stand up for them and do the right thing,” concluded Neely, “I have a track record of making the hard choices and standing by my word. Mr. Gullett has already proven that his self-interest trumps the public interest.”

-30-

Governor Jan Brewer Endorses Peggy Neely for Mayor of Phoenix

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 15, 2011
CONTACT: Paul Bentz

“Arizona needs experienced leaders like Neely who are dedicated to job creation”

PHOENIX – Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today announced her enthusiastic endorsement of Peggy Neely as the next Mayor of Phoenix.

“I have admired Peggy Neely’s record of job creation and her devotion to government reform,” stated Governor Brewer. “With the passage of Arizona’s economic competitiveness package and the creation of the Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona needs experienced leaders who are dedicated to public-private partnerships and job creation.

“Peggy fits that bill and has my full support. I look forward to working with her on Arizona’s comeback.”

Former Phoenix City Councilwoman Neely said, “I am extremely honored by our Governor’s support. Governor Brewer has been a model for making hard decisions and standing by them. I will work hand-in-hand with her administration to make Phoenix and Arizona number one in job creation.”

-30-

 

 

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs – Small Business Owners for Neely

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 11, 2011
CONTACT: Paul Bentz

“Peggy has been a champion for small business.”

Phoenix – For Peggy Neely, “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” isn’t just a campaign slogan – it is the hallmark of her track record. During her time on the city council, Neely was a strong leader in job creation, attracting regional and national headquarters, as well as small businesses to Phoenix.

“Peggy has truly proved herself to be interested in the small business person, as Councilwoman she has always made herself available whenever myself or someone from the Northeast Phoenix Business Alliance has called for an issue or help with a problem, Peggy truly understands that strong business means Job’s and tax revenue for the city,” said Keenan Strand, owner of two local McDonald’s and leader of the Northeast Phoenix Business Alliance, “I respect Peggy for making the right decisions for our neighborhood and business rather than worrying about polititics! She has a long track record of reaching out to the community and listening to our needs and bringing results. I have witnessed Peggy work with businesses of all sizes which creates jobs – she has proven to me that she knows how to bringing people together to find solutions.”

During her time on council, Neely reached out to business owners on a regular basis making sure that the city is a help – not a hindrance to doing business. In addition to successes in attracting new businesses, she also helped existing and small businesses expand.

“Peggy Neely understands that it takes businesses of all sizes to truly make a thriving economy. She has given me the same attention and interest as she has given to CEO’s of major corporations. To Peggy, every job and every business counts,” said Denny Matrunola, Owner, Truno Budget Car Rental.

Working with Councilman Sal DiCiccio, Neely has already started the work of cutting the red tape associated with doing business in the City of Phoenix. Streamlining the permitting process is already underway, but it is limited to small projects at this time. Neely pledges to continue this work and remove the barriers that small businesses face.

“Peggy Neely has the drive and determination to help ensure that business owners have the tools that they need to succeed in Phoenix,” explained Sharon Rueckert, Martial Arts School Owner, “She cares about businesses not only for the jobs they create, but the benefits they bring to the community. She has been a strong supporter of our efforts to educate children and youth in self-defense and life skills.”

Neely has been active in local businesses and their programs such as “Fight Like a Girl” which promotes self defense in women and was the past president of Women’s Council of Realtors. Neely has also pledged to repeal the food tax because she understands the burdens it places on families and the unfair way it was slipped past the taxpayers.

Realtor Naomi Thomas stated, “I have known Peggy for over 20 years on a professional level and as a member of the Phoenix City Council. As a former small business owner herself, she understands the value of working hard and keeping costs down. Small business owners can count on her to cut through the red tape and make it easier to do business in Phoenix.”

Neely has pledged to focus on ALL of Phoenix – not just the areas of downtown. She has been a champion for her District encouraging people to shop and dine in local eateries close to her home in North Phoenix. One such local restaurant counted among Neely’s favorites is Roma Garden.

“We were proud to discover that Peggy mentioned our restaurant as one of her favorite places to eat in Phoenix,” said Mr. Vjeko Mareclic, Owner, Roma Garden, “She is understands the value that local eateries bring to their neighborhoods and has been a patron for many years. She is a strong advocate for dining and shopping locally.”

Neely launched a comprehensive jobs plan as part of her vision of the “Phoenix We Want.” She explained, “Phoenix should no longer accept a back seat in the area of public policy. It must lead. It must lead in quality economic development focused on high income jobs that are as diverse as our city. The most critical need is a plan to diversify our jobs base. We can’t rely on construction alone to fuel our future. Instead, we must help existing businesses expand and then work with them to facilitate new relationships with companies looking to relocate.”

-30-

 

Sonoran News: It could be the right time for Wright

Our friends over at Sonoran News posted a column that we will repost on Sonoran Alliance. Please be sure to visit Sonoran News on a frequent basis. Here is their latest column:

It could be the right time for Wright
Meanwhile Neely and Gullett duke it out for lead RINO spot

CAVE CREEKSonoran News interviewed Jennifer Wright last week to hear why she’s running for mayor of Phoenix and what direction she’d like to steer the city if elected.

What became immediately apparent after talking to Wright and her Campaign Director Colleen Lombard the first few minutes, is she is probably the only fiscal conservative in a crowded race of seven candidates, which also includes union members.

Jennifer Wright for Mayor

Jennifer Wright (l), accompanied by her Campaign Director Colleen Lombard, visited Sonoran News last week to talk about Wright’s decision to run for mayor of Phoenix and where she stands on the issues as a conservative, Tea-Party backed candidate. Photo by Linda Bentley

When asked why she decided to run for mayor rather than for a seat on council, she said, “The mayor is only one vote, just like every other member of council,” and, since she lives in Sal DiCiccio’s district, she didn’t want to run against DiCiccio, whom she believes is doing a great job, nor did she want to move to another district.

Wright, backed by 26 Tea Party organizations throughout Arizona, is a lawyer, has a degree in economics, and she has worked at the Goldwater Institute and the Institute for Justice.

As she noticed all the shuttered businesses in the city, Wright stated, “Phoenix is going out of business.”

She said Phoenix city government has grown, while small businesses remain burdened with increased regulations and taxes.

Although Governor Brewer vetoed legislation that would have required cities with populations over 500,000 to competitively bid non-essential city services, Wright believes that’s the right way to go without the mandate to do so.

She said it wouldn’t preclude the city from bidding on services, and if it can provide those services at a lower price in a competitive bidding situation, the city should, by all means, continue to provide those services.

Wright adamantly opposes efforts to reduce the most essential city services and said, “The city needs to stop using police and fire fighters as political pawns to raise taxes.”

She stated the city needs to move in a direction that will create jobs and opportunities by creating a business-friendly environment and cut the barriers, regulations and taxes keeping businesses away.

Wright said she wants to get rid of the 2 percent food tax and the city’s administrative bloat.

Wright was a little disappointed that DiCiccio threw his endorsement behind Peggy Neely, as were a number of Neely’s former District 2 constituents.

When we contacted DiCiccio, questioning his endorsement, he said Neely supported SB 1070, she voted against the food tax and the budget, all of which he called “tough decisions on her part.”

He also stated, “I don’t agree with her on all issues, but I have watched her make some pretty tough calls …”

However, Neely’s support of SB 1070, directly contradicts her support of the illegal use of Community Development Block Grant funds to fund the illegal alien day labor center in Phoenix.

She also didn’t make any tough decisions regarding the food tax or budget. Neely knew council had enough votes to pass those agenda items without her support, allowing her to better position herself as a conservative to her former District 2 constituents.

Sonoran News has reported on Neely’s antics in the past and her way of getting tough on issues is to not be confronted by them. Neely was famous for setting up constituent meetings only to cancel her appearance at the last minute and send a lacky in to cover for her.

She did it so many times, we were able to predict the situations where Neely would duck and cover from her constituents.

Another “conservative” contender in RINO clothing is Sen. McCain’s pal Wes Gullett, a partner at the public affairs consulting firm Hamilton, Gullett, Davis & Roman, whose wife Deb formerly served as chief of staff to both McCain and the termed out, far-left Mayor Phil Gordon.

And, let’s not forget, Gullett was prominently displayed as a supporter on the shameful roster of “Republicans for Janet” Napolitano when she was running for governor of Arizona.

Although she entered the race late and was barred from inclusion in the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored debate, Wright has experienced a groundswell of grassroots support amongst conservative voters in Phoenix.

Can she win? If citizens get out and vote for her she can. The Phoenix Primary Election is on Aug. 30. Ballots are already in the mail.

Statement by Peggy Neely regarding Phoenix Chamber

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9, 2011
CONTACT: Paul Bentz

As I have said to the leadership of the Chamber, the media and anyone who has asked, I welcome Jennifer Wright and Anna Brennan to participate in the debate. The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce is a private organization and they have the right to operate their debate as they see fit. I welcome any invitation to share my vision of jobs, balancing the budget, and transparency with the voters of this City. I don’t recall Ms. Wright complaining about Mr. Stanton being excluded from Tea Party events just as I don’t recall Mr. Stanton complaining about his fellow candidates being excluded from Democratic district meetings.

###

What is Peggy Neely afraid of?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9, 2011
CONTACT: Michael Marshall

PHOENIX, AZ (August 9) – A rare consensus was reached by media pundits, Democratic and Republican leaders this past week. Under the bipartisan agreement, all determined that Jennifer Wright, Republican candidate for Mayor of Phoenix, should be included in the prime-time KPHO televised debated hosted by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce on August 15 along with all candidates who have qualified to be on the August ballot.

Chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party Rob Haney issued a press release calling on the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce to reconsider their decision which excludes two qualified Republican candidates from the debate. According to Haney, “The Chamber leaves us with the impression that they are limiting the participants to financially well-connected councilmen and a lobbyist to the exclusion of two new faces to the political scene.”

On a widely respected Sunday morning talk show, Sunday Squareoff, well-known political pundit Chris Herstam declared “[Her exclusion] is ridiculous… money has determined who is in that debate, that is absurd. All six qualified for the ballot, got their signatures, they all six should be in that debate. I don’t know what the Phoenix Chamber is thinking.” Agreeing with Herstam, former Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes added that she was shocked by the “dearth of coverage in this race.”

The GPCC appears to be sticking to their “foolish consistency” responding to a Facebook inquiry about debate participants on Monday, August 8th, that “Wes Gullett, Claude Mattox, Peggy Neely and Greg Stanton are participating. Unfortunately, Anna Brennan and Jennifer Wright did not meet all of our set criteria.”

Three of the four candidates in the debate have made public statements that they welcome the inclusion of Wright. The only candidate who appears to be against it is Peggy Neely. With Wright gaining in the polls on Neely, Neely is certainly feeling the pressure of Wright, who appears to be poised to overtake second place for a coveted slot in the November run-off. One would have to ponder if Neely isn’t afraid that Wright’s inclusion in the debate would end Neely’s political career.

“The citizens of Phoenix deserve to hear from all qualified candidates and make an informed decision when voting in the Phoenix Mayor’s race,” Wright stated. “The Greater Phoenix Chamber’s exclusion of qualified, and serious candidates because of arbitrary fundraising goals highlights the pervasive problem of money in politics. As an outsider, I am working hard to fight against these vested political interests and take away the power of the purse in influencing politics. I am hopeful that the Chamber will reconsider their decision.”

Wright entered the race on May 6, just weeks before 1500 signatures were due to qualify Wright for the ballot. In three short weeks, Wright was able to gather over 3500 signatures with the help of over 300 volunteers. In the past three months, Wright has gone from a virtual unknown, to a top contender in the Phoenix Mayor’s race – proving her viability. Early voting has begun, with the polls closing on August 30.

###

 

Neely Stands Against Off-Reservation Expansion of Tribal Gaming

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 3, 2011
CONTACT: Paul Bentz

Lobbyist Gullett advocates for expanded gaming and Stanton fails to act. 

Phoenix – The Tohono O’odham Nation is pushing to build a casino in the unincorporated land bordering the Cities of Glendale and Peoria. Although their move is opposed by Senator McCain, Senator Kyl, Governor Brewer, Mayor Scruggs, and other local and civic leaders, the Federal Government continues to remove the roadblocks and support tribal rights over city rights. Peggy Neely has joined those who have taken a stand against the off-reservation expansion of tribal gaming.

“Phoenix deserves a leader who they can count on to stand with its regional partners against these types of expansions which threaten municipal autonomy,” said Peggy Neely, “The residents should know that their leader will act decisively and in their interest.”

Lobbyist Wes Gullett is an advocate for expanded gaming. He was hired in 2005 by the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians to lobby for a deal similar to the one in Glendale to allow the Guidiville tribe to build a casino outside their tribal lands. According to the New York Times, Mr. Gullett’s job was to ensure that a proposed “overhaul of the Indian gambling laws did not harm the tribe.” (September 27, 2008)

During their time in the Attorney General’s office, neither Terry Goddard nor Greg Stanton took a position on the Glendale casino issue. Furthermore, they failed to join Governor Brewer and lawmakers in Glendale’s lawsuit against the Tohono O’odham Nation.

“With similar efforts are underway in the states of California and New York, it is only a matter of time before this gaming expansion trend extends to the City of Phoenix,” concluded Neely, “Mr. Gullett has already proven that his self-interest trumps public interest and Mr. Stanton has once again failed to take a stand. Voters are looking for a leader who will stand up for them and do the right thing. I have a track record of making the hard choices and standing by my word.”

-30-

Neely Launches AWARE – 12 Charter Changes for 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2011
CONTACT: Paul Bentz

Accountability, Wisdom, Accessibility, Representation, & Ethics

The City of Phoenix was established as an incorporated city in 1881. In 1913, Phoenix was established by charter as a council manager form of government with a population less than 20,000 making it one of the first cities in the country with this form of government. Today, Phoenix has a population of approximately 1.5 million making it the largest council manager form of government city in the country. The charter itself is meant to be a living document that would be amended to change with the evolving city. The last major changes to the charter occurred in 1983 and resulted in the creation of districts to elect the city council.

The form of governance only works if it truly reflects the will and needs of the people it serves. The time has come to have a comprehensive review of the city’s charter to help change the culture at City Hall. We need to ensure that city government continues to serve the residents of the City of Phoenix and not the entrenched interests of government unions, influential zoning attorneys, and companies who have made their business around relationships with municipal service areas. In short, we need to focus on making sure that City Hall serves the taxpayers of Phoenix – not itself.

We cannot wait. It is time to act. If elected, I will use the momentum of this election process to carry forth the most wide-ranging reform of our municipal government in nearly 30 years. The goal will be to comprehensively review the charter and modernize it to reflect the realities of today and the prospects and opportunities for tomorrow. These reforms should focus on accountability, wisdom, accessibility, representation and ethics (A.W.A.R.E.) and focusing on opening up City Hall to a greater degree of public scrutiny and fostering a more open and transparent dialogue among elected and appointed leaders. Phoenix residents should have the opportunity to be more aware of what is going on in their community.

One of my first actions as Mayor will be to set a public process made up of citizens of Phoenix who are the taxpayers all of us in public service are here to serve, to take the comprehensive review of the City’s Charter, not lobbyists, special interest, city insiders and/or those who can earn their living doing business with the city.

Charter reforms will be presented to the public in an open and transparent process, debated, and adopted or referred to the ballot in 2012. Everyone should come to the table with suggestions – I am offering twelve ideas I support that should start this reform process. This is not meant as a comprehensive list of reforms, but as a starting point to use during this election cycle to start a community discussion and debate that will lead to action if I am fortunate enough to be elected:

• Mandatory discussion period and public hearing schedule on all tax increases: Any actions to levy taxes should be done with proper notices, not merely to meet the technical requirements of the open meeting law but ensuring that sufficient time is given to all the taxpayers so that thoughtful debate and discussion takes place before any tax levy is made.

• Zero based budgeting and increased budget transparency: We should start fresh every year with a clean budget slate. No more starting from last year’s budget to decide future spending. In addition, we should implement better reporting mechanism to the public on the finances of the city and frequency of such reports in a public setting where the taxpayers and residents can express their views to the elected representatives. The City’s checkbook should be online and easily accessible and easy to explore.

• Strengthen the ethics policy: Develop a stronger and clearer conflict of interest and ethics policy statement that will clearly point out the minimum requirements any elected official and those appointed by the elected body are to abide by. I would also include those who serve on boards and commissions. There should be no loophole, ambiguity or general lack of clarity that all of us who serve the will of the people should be expected to follow. In addition, there should be strong monetary sanctions and the risk of removal from the position imposed on anyone found to be guilty of violating the public trust in their capacity as public servants.

• Increased council control of debt financing and budget tools: The fiscal stewardship of the City rests with the city manager and not the city council. The Mayor and Council approve the budget and purchases over a given dollar amount but the preparation of the budget and fiscal day to day stewardship rest with the city manager. There needs to be increased City Council accountability for any debt financing and budget tools used to balance the budget – it should not be “take it or leave it” as part of the budget adoption process.

• Unified election cycle: Voters should decide if we should vote on the unification of the election cycle so that the Mayor runs concurrent with all council districts and the candidates for municipal offices appear on the same ballot and in the same election cycle as state and county officials. The potential cost savings would be over $1 million per election.

• Additional city council districts: It is time to debate the merits of additional members to the city council, if they can be added with a net zero change to the council budget.

• Increased citizen representation on healthcare and pension boards: The City works for the taxpayers – they are our boss. However, the healthcare and pension boards are set where the employees basically govern themselves. The taxpayers should have an increased say on how their money is being spent on the healthcare and pension of the employees who work for them.

• Planning commission reform: The appointees and how the appointments are made should be explored and adjusted as necessary. City council members should have more direct input on the planning commission and commission members should have more requirements in the disclosure of conflicts.

• Increased campaign finance transparency: Candidates should file their campaign finance reports electronically and the results should post immediately. Citizens should be able to search the reports for donors, expenditures, and other information instead of downloading large documents with hard to find information.

• Lobbyist reform: Lobbyist registrations should be posted online in a searchable database by lobbyist and by client. The database should also include increased financial reporting requirements – for example, gifts and meals for commission members should be reported just as they are for elected officials.

• Required council votes: Make the City Council more accountable by requiring council votes on critical issues instead of deferring hard choices to unelected citizen committees formed to diffuse responsibility.

• Strengthen rainy day fund: We should agree to save more money in good years by increasing the annual rate of contribution to the city’s “rainy day” fund above 3 percent. We also should require that these funds be spent before considering any city tax increase.

We need better checks and balances that ensure stronger financial stewardship that places the taxpayers and their elected representatives in charge and accountable – not bureaucrats. The public can no longer be an afterthought in this process. This is the pledge I make to you, the residents of Phoenix who we are all here ultimately to serve, not the bureaucrats and union bosses who flock to the city and have ingrained themselves in the system. The doors will be made wide open for you to not only peer into but to examine and demand nothing less than the best from your elected and appointed leaders.

-30-