Now that the dust has settled after last week's bond election, it's difficult to deny Guy Phillips' political potency. Like it or not, (and some people don't), Councilman Phillips has proven once again he shouldn't be underestimated.
Many wondered how Phillips would fare after political fellow traveler Bob Littlefield left the Council. That question has been answered. Phillips isn't able to build consensus on the Council because he often takes contrarian positions. He is, however, striking a responsive cord with many voters when it comes to elections.
Phillips worked successfully to defeat four of the six ballot questions. This time, unlike two years ago, he did it without the help of Bob and Kathy Littlefield or John Washington. The first-term councilman, who is running for re-election next year, has undeniably tapped into an anti-establishment constituency - and they turn out to vote, no matter what.
Those voters rejected questions addressing parks and community facilities, transportation, citywide technology and also police - which included funds earmarked for improving the Civic Center Jail and the 44-year-old police station. The total cost of the four questions voters turned down was more than $68 million. The total of the two questions voters approved was $29 million.
This election, the third one in the last six years that included bonds, had some political peculiarities.
Five of the six council members, plus Mayor Lane, supported the bond package. According to conventional wisdom, that overwhelming support was thought to be a "game changer." Especially Lane's endorsement, which is all it turned out to be - because the Mayor failed to actually campaign for the six ballot questions.
His Honor did, however, have an excuse. He was busy raising money for his re-election campaign. In fact, on October 21st, just two weeks before the bond election, he held what one of his inner circle called "the biggest fundraiser in Scottsdale history."
Another peculiarity that puzzled election watchers was that voters differentiated between the fire and police proposals. Voters approved the proposal to renovate and build fire stations but rejected the proposal to improve the infrastructure of the Civic Center Jail and Police Station.
The primary difference between the results of the two public safety proposals most likely occurred because firefighters actively campaigned to pass the bonds and police did not.
Of course the city's two police officers' organizations, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association (POSA), are both experiencing political struggles. During the past year, FOP has had a revolving door of leadership and POSA has gone into hiding following the scandal late last year about their charitable fundraising practices.
Until seven days ago, Scottsdale voters hadn't passed bonds for 15 years. And that's troubling. It speaks volumes about our city's changing political environment in which voters are becoming more conservative and less inclined to trust city government - which is allowing the kind of disappointing results we saw last Tuesday.
That isn't expected to change until someone motivates politically moderate voters to get out and vote.
UPDATE: Basha Got The Message
Transportation Director Paul Basha got the message from the City Manager ... who got it from the City Council ... who got the message from citizens: Don't widen Chaparral Road and don't narrow Scottsdale Road.
Basha told the Transportation Commission last week that his department would no longer recommend making modifications to either road - which was met with applause from the audience in the Kiva.
Election season is just around the corner, and the City Council doesn't want to create any more flash-point issues than necessary.
The Transportation Department is hosting public meetings for citizens to review the Transportation Master Plan at 6PM in the Kiva at City Hall on three upcoming Thursdays: November 19th, December 3rd and December 17th.