It's likely that Jason Alexander will be taking a page out of the political playbooks of Jim Lane and Guy Phillips -- and if he's lucky, following in their footsteps by being elected to the City Council.
Alexander, the spokesperson for No DDC, hasn't officially announced his candidacy. However, using the guerilla campaign being waged against the Desert Discovery Center (recently renamed Desert Edge) as a political springboard, he's poised to take the plunge into next year's council race.
If Alexander does, he will be turning back the clock 15 years.
In 2003, Jim Lane, a political neophyte, was named the co-chair of a campaign to persuade voters to prevent the creation of a municipally run fire department. Up until then, the City of Scottsdale had contracted for fire services with a privately owned company, Rural/Metro. The company provided hundreds of thousands of dollars of funding for the campaign.
It was the most contentious political campaign that the city had ever experienced.
Rural/Metro prevailed by a nearly 2:1 margin. Six months later, the company walked away from its contract and the city created its own fire department in 2005. But Lane, a certified public account who had been barely known outside the business community, had raised his name identification. The following year he parlayed that notoriety into a successful campaign for council.
In 2012, a relatively unknown small businessman, who operated his own heating and cooling company, made a name for himself on the political scene. Guy Phillips, who had run unsuccessfully for the council in 2010, almost single handedly defeated an effort to ratify the city's General Plan in the spring election.
The business community took for granted the passage of Proposition 430. They also underestimated Phillips' grassroots campaign that had virtually no money and was driven by phone calls and emails. The Chamber of Commerce mounted a last-minute campaign that was too little, too late.
Like Jim Lane in 2003, Guy Phillips used an election issue as a vehicle to help land himself a seat on the City Council in 2012.
History could now be starting to repeat itself.
Jason Alexander has begun promoting himself in No DDC e-blasts. For starters, recipients have learned he's a fiscal conservative (the prerequisite to running for City Council). He also says he believes in "property rights and zoning law" (whatever that means). According to No DDC, if people don't get involved with Alexander's probable campaign, "you get more Linda Milhaven and David Smith." Both are expected to run for re-election next year -- as is Kathy Littlefield, who, like the No DDC organization, supports a public vote on the Desert Discovery Center. Councilmembers Milhaven and Smith, not so much.
Alexander has recently been trying to drum up enthusiasm and funding pledges. He's finding it easier to generate excitement for his candidacy than to raise money for his campaign.
However, Alexander may have caught a break.
The 2016 council races set a high watermark of what it takes to run for an $18,000-a-year council seat. The going rate for a campaign to serve on the city's esteemed governing body was nearly $200,000 last year, although Guy Phillips was an exception. While Councilwoman Milhaven is capable of raising that kind of money, Councilmembers Littlefield and Smith aren't prolific fundraisers. Which puts Alexander in play.
Some folks are trying to discourage Alexander from running next year. They're recommending that he wait until 2020 when incumbent Suzanne Klapp will be termed out. Others suggest that Alexander should "strike while the iron is hot." In other words ... while the project formerly known as Desert Discovery Center remains politically relevant and potentially top of mind for many voters.
Either in or out of the 2018 race for City Council, Jason Alexander is making a name for himself - and is expected to be a voice in the political dialogue in the immediate future.