Jon Altmann – Frontrunner to Replace Baier on Phoenix Council

Jon Altmann Vies for Empty Phoenix Council Seat

The Phoenix City Council meets Tuesday, June 30th at 2 PM to decide who will temporarily fill the seat vacated by Maria Baier. Baier resigned suddenly on June 17th to join the Brewer administration as state land commissioner.

A leading candidate to fill the spot is Jon Altmann. Altmann, 54, is a business owner who ran against Baier for the then open seat in 2007. Altmann beat two others in the primary to face off against Baier in the General Election He then received a respectable 44% of the vote. Baier raised more than $280,000 for what is traditionally a $50,000 race. It seems after 17 months on the job, she left her city hall investors high and dry and retreated back to her previous favorite spot – state government.

Altmann has a long history of working neighborhood issues in Phoenix and Scottsdale, chairing one city committee and most recently, served two terms on a Phoenix planning and zoning committee. He owns a national level pubic safety consulting practice that has done work in several states. Altmann himself had formerly been with Rural/Metro as their national marketing director, scoring about $40 million in new business before starting his own firm nine years ago.

Even with the interim fill, state law still requires a special election in November to fill the remaining two years of Baier’s term. At last count, 20 people applied to fill the job, but only a handful are likely to be serious contenders. A liberal LD10 Democrat, Jim Mapstead, who lost to Altmann in 2007, is one and another left winger, Jim Larson, who twice ran against LD 6 State Senator Pamela Gorman and got trounced. Mapstead, who turned around and endorsed Baier after losing to Altmann, was rewarded a few months ago with an appointment to the Phoenix planning and zoning commission.

Former city councilman Tom Milton is also in the mix. Milton left the council in 2002 after a term in another district and is now living in an apartment in District 3. Milton is probably DOA with the council – an Arizona Republic story quoted veteran councilwoman Peggy Neely as saying she was looking for “new blood” rather than recycling old members.

Former District 3 councilwoman Peggy Bilsten’s name came up also, but she is now off on another mission in Africa, having left last week. Bilsten’s last six months in office were disrupted with an investigation of staff irregularities and charges her staff was used to paint parts of her home. The investigations immobilized her final days in office while she ran around doing Tsunami relief visits in Indonesia.

Altmann has substantial voter approval from 2007 and revalidated his claim by narrowly losing a LD 11 State House race last year by about 1%, even though the Democrats threw $113,000 against him in a desperate effort to retain the seat. In looking at the numbers, about half of LD 11 is Council District 3 – coincidentally the half that Altmann did extremely well in (he lost ground in the more Democratic west end of the district).

The Phoenix Council is non partisan and Altmann has shown a great ability to bring together widely different groups for endorsements and grass roots campaign work. Altmann also serves as an elected precinct committeeman and got elected as a Republican Party state committeeman. During the LD 11 race, Phoenix Councilwomen Thelda Williams and Peggy Neely endorsed him – Neely even did some autodial calls for him.

Altmann seems off to a strong start – his campaign organization filing has a well-campaign chairman with some business clout with the Council and he is already racking up some major endorsements. State Representative Adam Driggs has also thrown his name behind Altmann again.

One city hall insider said Altmann has “quite a machine” going – with neighborhood and other supporters racking in about 300 calls last week to Mayor Phil Gordon and each of the seven council offices.

The Phoenix City Manager last week reported that city tax revenues continue to decline at a rate of 13% per month and it is rumored whoever joins the council will be looking at a drastic cut of up to 20% of the city budget to make ends meet.

Altmann has a history of building public/private partnerships and his consulting work does strategic budget planning for cities and counties. His last major project was in the very conservative area of Colorado Springs and surrounding El Paso County – Altmann brought together 20 some jurisdictions for a joint process that boosted 911 services with an ambulance contract that costs the county nothing.

The Council has three possible ways to go Tuesday – pick someone else, and risk seeing Altmann wage an even stronger campaign, this time potentially with more contributors and a solid win – pick a “lame duck” who will be a place holder and not run in November – or pick Altmann and have someone who hits the ground running on the issues with about five minutes of warm-up time.

The deadline for filing for the November election was Saturday.

Looking at how his campaigns have worked, one District 11 veteran said Altmann gets a lot of mileage out of a dollar – “just think of what kind of campaign he can run with his grass roots machine and a few more dollars.”


  1. Who could blame Baier for moving from the minor leagues to the majors? I realize the poster above is an Altmann supporter, and he ran against Baier and lost, but if Altmann won and was thereafter appointed Sec Nav or something you’d expect him to take it, right?

  2. LiberalWatcher says

    Altmann is head and shoulders above the rest. The guy is a grass roots machine. He’s not one of these 30-something youngsters who are looking to use the office to jump start a career.
    The guy has done well in building alliances within the party.
    I’d liken his campaign tenacity to Jim Waring. Phoenix will gain from this guy.
    As for Baier, the only surprise is she left so soon. I’d hate to be one of those $289,000 supporters – you get what, 17 months out of a 4 year gig and she’s gone without voting on much. I guess it’s too late for a lot of them to get their donations back, huh?
    Altmann – one of the good ones.

  3. So, you think a guy who was rejected by almost 6 out of 10 voters has the leg up here?

  4. DownTowner says

    Altmann won more votes than anyone else in the running for the seat right now. He also won just about all the precincts in LD11 that are the council district during ’08.
    Give me 4 out 10 shares of any company and I control it.
    The guy’s active and the other 19 who applied for the job are what? Political opportunists and job seekers. I agree with Libwatcher, it’s about experience. I’ve seen the guy in action – I wouldn’t be so quick to minimize unless you have another rock star you think is a surprise entry.

  5. Barry Goldwater says

    Well, if I were Jon Altmann I wouldn’t want the name Peggy Neely around me at all! She did auto-dialers for him? No wonder he lost in a GOP-leaning district. Peggy is the orchaestrator of the $97 million City North PARKING GARAGE. The City of Phoenix will rebate to the DEVELOPER of City North ALL SALES TAXES COLLECTED at City North for 11 years or until $97 Million is collected, and in return we get 3,000 parking spaces in the garage. Wow. What an investment.

    If that’s the type of “Conservative” councilman Jon Altmann will be, let him stay out of public office. I’d rather have a D who is more fiscally conservative (Like a Mapstead or Bilsten or Milton) than an R who is going to give away $97 Million like Peggy did.

    I think that money would come in handy about now….

  6. A pubic safety consulting practice? Does that have something to do with sex education?
    John Altmann- Protecting your Pubes

  7. If Peggy Neely thinks new blood on the City Council is so important, she should not run for re-election. At least a “recycled” council member had some time to refresh his blood. Neely is “fresh” recycling.

  8. Confused: Grow up.

    I think the consulting practice works with emergency service providers such as ambulance companies and fire departments.

  9. Looking at the money spent in the runoff between Baier and Altmann, it looks like Altmann was far more fiscally resourceful than Baier. Baier’s dollars spent to votes was $22.63/vote while Altmann was $10.46/vote. I’ll take Altmann anyday even if he’s not just another pretty face.

  10. Tucson Vice says

    Peggy Bilsten’s name “came up?”

    No, SA. It didn’t just “come up.” I know you aren’t a fan of this idea at all, and I know your blog has no credibility in the first place, but try looking into the story before you put crayon to paper.

    By the way, I love hearing limbaugh loving, snake handling, compassionate, conservative christian folks mocking someone’s relief efforts following a massive natural disaster.

    Tabloid garbage.

  11. Ryan, you are nuts. But in a funny, nice way. it’s not the dollars you spend to get a vote, it’s the dollars you spend per voter, in the days and weeks before the election.

    You could spend a million and get one vote. You could spend nothing and get two votes. Who wins the election? Who wasted ALL their money? If you want to run against an established, savvy candidate you are going to need to out-establish and out savvy her, and if you can’t do that your only hope is to greatly out-spend her. Altmann failed, plain and simple, but if his supporters want to complain it wasn’t a fair fight, go ahead.

  12. Mike Spelman says

    Altmann is a train wreck! The GOP better get their heads out of their posterior and back aother candidate instead of continuing to roll out this three time loser.

  13. LiberalWatcher says

    Mike Spelman is a HOA vice president and up until last July, lived in Arizona for 12 years and never registered to vote. He is named in multiple lawsuits where he has gone after private property owners – typical HOA liberal politics.
    Spelman is a Democrat plant playing as a Republican who does character assinations and is a really a former union boss from New Jersey. He took money from Democrats last year to go after Republican legislative candidates.

  14. Mike Spelman says

    LiberalWatcher is drinking the Kol Aid and also playing the character assassination game. Everything I said about Altmann is true and can easily be verified by contacting NERA, his neighbors, his own brother and sister (who did not support his 2008 candidacy), The PV School District and anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes in his presence. As an FYI, I am not a Democrat and never have been, nor am I from NJ. In addition, I have never, ever been associated with any type of Union. I have not been named in any lawsuit except for the one that Altmann’s 2007 Campaign Chairperson filed against me which had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with viloation of anyones property rights.

    LiberalWatcher, has ZERO credibility.

  15. Статья интересная, добавлю в избранное для дальнейшего ознакомления

  16. Совершенно верно, все на высоте сделано, грамотно.

  17. Хотел бы задать деликатный вопрос. Могли бы Вы более подробно расписать эту информацию?

  18. Не могу согласится с подобными высказываниями и имею свою точку зрения по данному вопросу

  19. Ознакомившись внимательно, сделал вывод, что не всё так плохо. Это не может не радовать

  20. Господа, а не пора ли нам обсудить эту тему вместе, если есть желающие, присоединяйтесь!?

  21. Поддерживаю большенство и обязательно добавляю в избранное

  22. Блин, а как на рсс подписаться.

  23. Такие вещи можно обсуждать и в пм.

  24. оболдеть, портал жителей пгт Московской области

  25. Мне все очень понравилось. Автор молодец.

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