"Resident Friendly" The New Measuring Stick

The election is over. The street signs are gone. And the dust is settling after what was arguably the most contentious election in Scottsdale history. 

Councilmembers Kathy Littlefield and Linda Milhaven were re-elected. Incumbent David Smith lost and newcomer Solange Whitehead won. The sales tax will be raised and the City Charter amended.

Some boast the election results have united the city and are taking it in a new direction. Others worry the city has come unhinged and may now be heading in the wrong direction.

Oddly, it was an election in which citizens were purposely polarized to supposedly "unify" the city.

The campaign to pass Proposition 420 pitted citizens against developers who voters were told want to "commercialize" the Mountain Preserve. That polarization tactic was also used to turn City Council races into contests between "resident-friendly" candidates vs. candidates who were "bought and paid for by developers."

According to Howard Myers, president of Protect Our Preserve, one of the groups that spearheaded the Yes Prop 420 campaign, this election "shows our citizens want council members who represent them, not developers who want to profit off of Scottsdale's desirability at the expense of our quality of life."

Yet, voters re-elected Linda Milhaven to her third term even though she received substantial support from developers, homebuilders and the real estate community.

Strangely, David Smith, failed to be re-elected. There has been no bigger "resident-friendly" member of the council than Smith. Ever the watchdog of taxpayer dollars, he repeatedly tried to eliminate the food tax that impacts those on low and fixed incomes. For four years, Smith has held developers feet to the fire on their projects and drawn their ire in return.

Another candidate, Bill Crawford, who was a staunch supporter of Prop 420, didn't make it into the winners' circle, either. Ironically, Crawford's campaign focused on a pledge to mediate compromises between neighborhoods and developers to help unify what many people believe to be a politically divided city.

The election proved "resident-friendly" is totally situational and is just a tool being used to continue an "us vs. them" strategy.

For those paying attention, November 6th should have put a lot of people on notice. The campaign that has been coined "Take Back Scottsdale" doesn't stop with developers. It's about systematically reforming city government and making it more responsive to citizens.

It's also about reconfiguring the status quo. That means no group or organization is immune from being called out for not meeting the broad criteria of being "resident-friendly" -- including Experience Scottsdale and the tourism community, Scottsdale Arts and the arts and culture community and the Chamber of Commerce and the business community.

Shaking up the downtown may also be on the so-called reformers' radar as well. The Entertainment District has long been an irritant for citizens who believe the bar and clubs are a blemish on the city's brand and a nightmare for nearby neighborhoods. So it will come as no surprise if there's renewed pressure on business owners to clean up their acts.

Have A Happy "Resident-Friendly" Thanksgiving!