At this time last year SUSD Superintendent Denise Birdwell was busy bullying teachers and stonewalling her critics. Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale had just presented its proposal for the DDC. And Mayor Lane was growing a beard.
Now, as families have returned from vacation and parents are preparing to send their children back to school, the community is bracing itself for the political monsoon season. For the next three months the barometric pressure is expected to rise as campaigns begin gearing up for the push to the November election.
Forecasters are predicting possible political haboobs.
Two local issues will be on the ballot: increasing the sales tax and an amendment to the City Charter to regulate projects in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The sales tax issue was referred to the ballot by a 4-3 vote of the City Council and the change in the charter issue made it to the ballot through the citizen initiative process.
Councilmembers Guy Phillips and Suzanne Klapp are coordinating the sales tax measure. The campaign is expected to be a low-key affair because there has been minimal interest in investing the necessary resources to promote raising a tax.
What the sales tax campaign will lack in energy and enthusiasm, the campaign to change the charter will more than make up for.
Following two years of taunting by No DDC that has torn the community apart, the group's affiliate, Protect Our Preserve (POP), pulled off a feat few thought possible: people, both paid and unpaid, gathered more than enough signatures to put what's now called Proposition 420 on the ballot.
If the past couple of years of No DDC's nastiness is any indication, the politicking around Prop 420 will set a toxic tone for the fall elections - including the campaigns for City Council. No DDC has already started waging a crusade to replace Councilmembers Linda Milhaven and David Smith. The intense effort to "unelect" Milhaven has been particularly vicious and it's anticipated it will be a significant part of the group's strategy to pass Proposition 420. So the worse may be yet to come.
And what's an election without what has become the tradition of an independent expenditure campaign targeting one of the candidates?
According to the political grapevine, this year David Smith, running for his second term, is the likely candidate to be in the crosshairs of a campaign financed by those who support challenger Bill Crawford, the well-known downtown business owner.
Meanwhile, after two years of chaos and corruption in the Scottsdale Unified School District, the School Board election seems anticlimactic. Pam Kirby, who was at the center of the district's downfall, has wisely announced she won't be running for re-election. Sometime soon incumbent Kim Hartmann is expected to follow suit. That means businesswoman Patty Beckman will assuredly be elected to help put the school district back on track. The second seat on the School Board is up for grabs.
Things Worth Watching:
Mayor Lane's Political Action Committee, "At Our Best." Solange Whitehead's council campaign. And the reincarnation of the Scottsdale Progress in September.