Featured Editorials




(SCOTTSDALE) – Mountainside Fitness has filed a “Motion of Contempt” against Governor Doug Ducey in another attempt to get the governor and the state to follow  Superior Court Judge Timothy J. Thomason’s order and provide health clubs an avenue for re-opening.

Mountainside Fitness’ court filing comes after Governor Ducey defied the Judge Thomason’s order and once again failed to give health clubs and the fitness industry a final set of approved protocols that would allow them the opportunity to re-open.

“It’s been an ever-changing set of protocols since the day we were shut down for the second time on June 29,” said Hatten.  “We have been desperately trying to understand first why we were forced to close, where’s the evidence, which we also proved in court that there wasn’t any evidence to prove that we should be closed.  If there are protocols, why does the state keep changing its own protocols and then continues to change the guidelines every time they lose a ruling. We are now on our fourth set of protocols, which once again doesn’t give us any way to open again.”

In early August Judge Thomason ruled Governor Ducey’s executive order to shut down gyms violated procedural due process and the Governor must give health clubs an avenue to re-open.

The Judge wrote in his ruling – “There is very little credible scientific data supporting the notion that fitness centers operating with necessary safety protocols pose a danger or that shutting down well run gyms has a significant public health benefit.”

As part of the ruling the judge stated “It is unrealistic to think that fitness centers that have been forced to close for weeks and months on end will be able to resume operations,” he wrote. “No injury could be more irreparable than being forced out of business.”Read More

(SCOTTSDALE)Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, Arizona’s luxury real estate leader, is pleased to present high-end properties across the state that offer uniquely designed state-of-the-art home gyms, tennis courts, swimming pools, and other fitness space and premium amenities.

Offering everything needed in terms of home technology, home entertainment, fitness and wellness, the luxury listings also showcase impressive views and designs that bring peace and harmony.

Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty agents Frank Aazami and David Mayo are pleased to present the most sought-after property in North Scottsdale. Sitting on more than 8 acres, the 12,500 square-foot home is located at 23035 N Church Rd in Scottsdale, AZ 85255. Listed for $7,299,000 and offering 7 bedrooms and 10 full bathrooms, the estate is a pro athletes paradise. The home is equipped with complete gym facilities, sport court, putting green, Olympic size swimming pool, weight room, lockers, steam shower. Relax indoors or out, watch a game or your own indoor or outdoor oversized cinema screen, multiple Sit-down bars and lounge space. Impeccably manicured grounds with waterfalls, a pond, oversized pool, fire pits and tennis court. Get more information or see photos of the property here.

In the Valley of the Sun, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty Agent Cheryl Anderson is pleased to present this never before seen on the market private park-like compound lot. Listed for $4.5 million and located at 6600 N Invergordon Rd in Paradise Valley, AZ 85253, the exquisite 8,010 square-foot single level home features its own home gym, 6 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, and 1 private guest home plus caretaker’s quarters. This one of a kind lot has impeccable grounds where outdoors work-out enthusiasts can swim laps in the unique lagoon-like pool, or take a walk along the walking/jogging paths. Play golf on the lighted putting green with surrounding views of Camelback and Mummy Mountain.

Further east, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty Agent Lisa Roberts is pleased to present an ornate estate with breathtaking views to accompanying its own home gym.  The 8,837-square-foot home is located at 10208 N Palisades Boulevard in Fountain Hills, AZ 86268.  Listed for $3.5 million the hillside estate features 5 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, and 6 fireplaces. Besides its own home gym amenity, the estate also features a spa, sauna, reading nook and bonus room. Get more information or see photos of the property here.

In Tucson, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty Agent Susanne Grogan is pleased to present 7403 North Secret Canyon Drive in Tucson Arizona 85718 for $3.8 million. This contemporary unrivaled architectural masterpiece offers more than 7,000-square feet of sustainability.  Offering a private well, solar panels, orchard and vegetable gardens, the 4-bedroom, 6-bathroom home is located in the exclusive gated community of The Canyons. The lushly landscaped grounds offer the perfect setting to practice yoga outdoors on the large artificial turf. The home also features a large pool, spa, waterfall and ramada.  More photos of this property can be viewed here.

Also located in Tucson, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty Agent Judy Smedes is pleased to present a show stopping 36.74 acre sports complex property at 6655 N Rattlesnake Canyon Rd in Tucson, AZ 85750 for $2.75 million. The sports complex features a 60-ft indoor lap pool and spa, full sized batting cage with a professional pitching machine, and private workout area.  Designed with the same quality and craftsmanship of the main home, this home and sports complex is an athlete’s paradise, equipped with enough space to comfortably fit an entire baseball team. Photos of this property can be viewed here.

Further south, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty Agent Gary Brasher is pleased to offer a 5,915-square-foot home at 8 Amado Montosa in Amado, AZ, 85645 for $795,000. The 3-bedroom, 7-bathroom elegant home in Amado Montosa features an indoor gym big enough for hosting your own boot camp, an outdoor fountain, pool and several entertainment spaces. Enjoy taking a walk through the mature rose garden or sitting in the pool with a cool beverage, this unique property has it all. Photos of this property can be viewed here.

In the West Valley Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty Agent Cindy Smith has an abundance of outdoor space for recreation enthusiasts at 1312 W Beverly Rd, in Goodyear, AZ 85338.  Listed for $1,150,000 this one-of-a-kind estate offers 6,611-square foot with 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms.  Enjoy home gym, pool, sauna and steam room plus a sport court, horse shoe pit, and an abundance of land for outdoor and group workouts. Photos of this property can be viewed here.

Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty agents can also work with prospective buyers on virtual tours and or arrange private tours at their convenience.

(SCOTTSDALE) – Victory Tuesday for Mountainside Fitness and other health clubs across Arizona who have been financially impacted by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s arbitrary shutdowns.

Up until Tuesday the Governor had not given gyms and fitness centers an avenue for re-opening.

On Tuesday, Maricopa Superior Court Judge Timothy J. Thomason ruled Governor Ducey’s executive order to shut down gyms violated procedural due process and the Governor must give health clubs an avenue to re-open.

The Judge wrote in his ruling – “There is very little credible scientific data supporting the notion that fitness centers operating with necessary safety protocols pose a danger or that shutting down well run gyms has a significant public health benefit.”

As part of the ruling the judge stated “It is unrealistic to think that fitness centers that have been forced to close for weeks and months on end will be able to resume operations,” he wrote. “No injury could be more irreparable than being forced out of business.”

Mountainside Fitness had filed a lawsuit, along with several temporary restraining and preliminary injunctions in late June after the Governor selectively chose health clubs, tubing, waterparks, movie theaters (that were already closed) and bars to close for a second time, despite allowing all other industries throughout the state to remain open.

“Relief is how we are feeling today,” said Tom Hatten, founder and CEO of Mountainside Fitness.  “Since the first shut down, we have continued to do everything the Governor and the state have asked us to do to safely operate our business and finally today thanks to Judge Thomason we have an avenue to open and stay open.”

Hatten says Mountainside Fitness is prepared to re-open safely again next Tuesday and stay open.

“We as an industry worked extremely hard to not only open safely the first time, but also the second and third time,” said Hatten. We have the best protocols and practices in place to do that and we are excited to once again open our doors and allow our members to continue improving their health and mental well-being.”  Read More

(PHOENIX) — Vestar’s former long-time Vice President of Development and Acquisitions has a new company and has acquired his first shopping center.

David Malin, who formed Scottsdale Development Partnersacquired The Shops at Dynamite Creek last week.

Malin closed on the $10.5 million center on Friday. Located at the entrance of the master planned community of Tatum Ranch, the 82,400-square-foot center is currently only 65-percent occupied, making it a prime target for revitalization.  The center’s current tenants include ACE Hardware, Honor Health, Tailgaters, The Creek Patio Grill and Dynamite Creek Animal Hospital, among other shops.  With 830 to 6,501-square-foot suites available, Scottsdale Development Partners is looking to secure additional tenants and are open to all uses including fitness, restaurant, service and health care.

“When the previous owner put The Shops at Dynamite Creek up for sale, I saw this as a huge opportunity,” said Malin.  “You couldn’t ask for a better location.  The community is thriving and the property sits right at the entrance to Tatum Ranch serving thousands of residents in Phoenix, Cave Creek and Carefree. The center was built in 1999, and was an immediate success and fully leased for almost 15 years.  At some point, the former owners who are out of State stopped paying attention to the shopping center.”

Kevin Tehan and Josh Stone with Columbia National Real Estate Finance represented Scottsdale Development Partners in sourcing the debt with a correspondent life insurance company. A longtime Valley resident, Malin hired Carol Schillne and Cole Schillne from CBRE as the listing brokers and Cindy Winters of Eagle Commercial, also a Tatum Ranch resident, to manage the property.

“From the ownership to the listing brokers to our new property management team, we have assembled one of the best local teams in the Valley to take The Shops at Dynamite Creek to the next level.  We plan to continue updating the center and attract a variety of new businesses that will make this community feel proud for many years to come,” said Malin, CEO and Founder of Scottsdale Development Partners.

An Arcadia resident, Malin has been in the shopping center business since 1990.  He moved to the Valley in 2002 to lead all the acquisitions for shopping center giant Vestar.

Between 2002 and 2008, Malin developed 500 acres of retail in Arizona including Tempe Marketplace in Tempe (1.3 million sq ft) as well as Lake Pleasant Towne Center in Peoria (800,000 sq ft.), Sundance Towne Center in Buckeye (750,000 sq ft.), Oro Valley Marketplace in Oro Valley (1 million sq ft.) and Canyon Trails Towne Center in Goodyear (900,000 sq ft.).

Between 2009 and 2017 Malin acquired, redeveloped, repositioned, and rebranded over 4 million square feet of shopping centers in Colorado, Texas, and Arizona. Those projects included: Orchard Town Center in Westminster, CO (1 million sq ft), Bowles Crossing in Littleton, CO (450,000 sq ft), Deerbrook Marketplace in Humble, TX (400,000 sq ft), Village on the Parkway in Addison, TX (450,000 sq ft), Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, AZ (1.2 million sq ft).

While The Shops at Dynamite Creek is Malin’s first acquisition with Scottsdale Development Partners, the Valley businessman has several other planned developments in escrow that range from Phoenix to Flagstaff to Southern California.

Scottsdale Development Partners is located at 3821 E Devonshire Avenue in Phoenix, AZ 85018.  To reach SDP please call (480)244-7070 or visit www.sdpretail.com.

For leasing information please contact Carol Schillne or Cole Schillne from CBRE at Carol.Schillne@CBRE.com or by phone (602) 735-5680.

(SCOTTSDALE)  — Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale is proud to announce it has selected the Arizona’s Children Association as its second Arizona charity to receive a $5,000 donation this month as part of its D.R.I.V.E Initiative.

Last month the Scottsdale dealership re-introduced D.R.I.V.E, which stands for Donations for Recovery & Investment that are Very Essential, as a way to help Valley charities recover following the pandemic. Many have been decimated following the economic downturn combined with critical fundraising cancelled in the spring and fall. In June the dealership made the campaign’s initial $5,000 donation to Fresh Start due to a rise in domestic violence that has been a tragic result of the pandemic.

The year-long campaign kicked off in June of this year focusing on supporting and highlighting local causes. The initiative is a continuation of Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale’s historic commitment to supporting organizations that improve our communities.

This month Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale says it selected the Arizona’s Children Association because the non-profit is focused on helping with pandemic-specific issues for highly vulnerable children and that aligns with the purpose and goals of D.R.I.V.E.

“These are unprecedented times and Arizona’s Children Association is one of Arizonas best resources for helping children and families. Their programs target the type of future we all want to see, a future where every child has a safe and loving home and families are supported through difficult and trying circumstances,” said Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale Co-Owner Anita Theisen.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale,” said Jacob Schmitt, President and CEO of the Arizona’s Children Association. “The children and families we serve have been personally hit hard during this pandemic, as many live on fixed incomes and face limited financial resources. This gift will go a long way to guarantee that our families have the resources available to ensure they have what they need to help weather this storm.”

In the past Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale has supported such causes as the Jones-Gordon School (which helps twice exceptional students), Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association, Homeward Bound, Arizona Science Center, HopeKids, Health Network Foundation, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Mayo Clinic and Valley View Leadership.

In August a third charity will be announced with a $5,000 check to follow. The dealership is appealing to all its customers, friends and families to join them in donating each month to the selected organizations.

You can help this month’s charity with donations large and small by clicking here. 

The dealership also welcomes suggestions for future donations from readers, customers and others that are consistent with the efforts of the year-long initiative.

Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale is located 4725 N Scottsdale Rd. in Scottsdale. Visit https://www.mbscottsdale.com/ or call (480) 409-0409.

Featured Editorials

By Recker McDowell —

The city of Chandler has honored Ginger Voltmer for her volunteer work  with Neighbors Who Care.

The East Valley group helps connect home-bound, disabled, and older residents who live alone with supportive community volunteers. Those folks

Voltmer has been volunteering with the group the past four year and has been honored with one of Chandler’s Volunteer Recognition Awards. Her work includes 130 trips to the grocery store to shop for home-bound residents.

The city of Chandler’s Choosing Chandler Blog talked to Voltmer about her volunteer service and we hope to it encourages others to step forward for to help others.

Describe your work with Neighbors Who Care. What types of volunteer work do you participate in on a regular basis?

I’ve been with neighbors who care for four years. I work four-hour shifts at a time. On a typical day, I wait for phone calls and put in requests into the computer. Requests come for all different types of help — like shopping, errands, transportation, minor repairs, business help, balancing checkbooks, etc. Our biggest concern is making sure people get to their doctors’ appointments.

On top of the administrative work and scheduling, I have five people who I actually shop for and work with every week.Read More

By Recker McDowell —

Arizona is seeing some improvements with the COVID-19 pandemic with fewer hospitalizations as well as patients on ventilators and in intensive care units.

Let us hope the media report improvements with the pandemic with as much vigor as they chronicled the rise in cases and not just search for the next political fight to stoke.

But the state and country are not out of the woods when it comes to COVID-19.  A new report shows Arizona with the highest number of kids with the Coronavirus per capita on the country.

The data shows Arizona with 22,180 COVID cases among children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association. That translates into a rate of 1,208 Arizona children with COVID per 100,000 persons.

By comparison, California has a per capita COVID rate for children of 545.5 per 100,000, Florida (805.2) and Louisiana (980.8). New York City, which has been a COVID epicenter especially for deaths, has a rate of 390.5.

We know COVID tends to the hit older folks and those with underlying conditions harder than kids and young people. Still, the rate of cases should certainly be part of the equation as school districts in Arizona and across the country figure when and how to reopen.

What we hope does not happen is for the media (local and national) to not focus on improvements with COVID and to go searching for the next controversy, the next partisan fight.

The media has been essential (at times) in getting information to the public about COVID, responses to the virus including snafus with testing and the debates over closures and reopening.

The media, however, can also be faulted (at times) for fear mongering, grandstanding at press conferences and focusing on the politics of the virus rather than digging into issues such as the spread of COVID among populations with limited access to health care and the deadly decisions in New York and some other states to place COVID patients in nursing homes.Read More

By Bob Littlefield

The final primary election results are in and unfortunately I will not be advancing to the general election. Here are the results for Mayor (red numbers indicate that candidate’s rank in the standings):

In this race the top two finishers (Ortega and Borowsky) will advance to the general election.

In the Council race no candidate was elected outright (Betty Janik missed being elected outright by a mere 72 votes!) so Betty Janik, Tammy Caputi, John Little, Tom Durham, Guy Phillips, and Becca Linnig will compete for the three open Council seats in the November general election:

While I am deeply disappointed in the outcome I want to thank you all for your support and help over the last few months.  As usual I had the lowest amount of campaign cash so what success I had is mostly due to the efforts of the scores of Scottsdale citizens who worked hard for my campaign.

* Paradise Valley Councilwoman Julie Pace ran a campaign to make a statement.  And she did.  With a margin of victory of some 20% (and more) over her closest competitors, Pace not only was the top vote-getter but clearly positioned herself as the favorite to be the Town’s next Mayor when the popular Jerry Bien-Willner decides it’s time to pass the baton.

* Speaking of Paradise Valley, town resident and Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce President Mark Stanton beat back a nasty and furious FU from fellow council member Paul Dembow. Dembow’s disdain stems from a belief that Stanton was too collaborative with a family whose father was tragically killed by a Dembow relative.  It is understandable that the wounds from such a horrific incident run deep with those involved but Dembow not only diminished himself with his vitriol, but he his disdain was defeated by the affable Stanton.

* Across the street in Scottsdale, Virginia Korte, Suzanne Klapp and Bob Littlefield surprisingly did not make it to the mayoral run-off election in November.  But each, in their own way, have been impressive public servants for a city they all love.  It takes a lot of guts to run for office these days.  While each was denied the prize they were looking for, each also came out with their integrity intact, if not enhanced.

* Some day, some election, public safety leaders with an ax to grind against Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers may get him.  But they lost, narrowly, again.  Weiers never wins big.  But he does win.  And that’s what counts.

* Two of the most offensive and irritating candidates this election cycle, Maricopa County Assessor GOP candidate Rodney Glassman and Scottsdale City Council wannabe Michael Auerbach both lost, as they have before.  They both have obvious political body odor and voters could smell it.

* The top vote getter in the Scottsdale City Council race was Betty Janik.  She came within a whisker of winning outright in the primary.  That’s damn impressive in a 9-person field, as Janik was, and as a first-time candidate.  Small businesswoman Tammy Caputi wasn’t far behind Janik.  Both will be smart, worthy additions to the City Council.

* And that brings us to the Scottsdale Mayor’s race.  Wow.  We have been no fans of David Ortega, but he deserves credit for making the run-off, as he did in 2004.  It’s almost a back to the future moment for Ortega.  Then he got almost the exact percentage of the vote in the primary as he did last Tuesday.  Then he went on to get smoked by Mary Manross in the run-off, largely due to his opposition to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  But on August 4th and perhaps in November Ortega may benefit from an unprecedented Democratic turnout.  Until recently Ortega was a dedicated Democrat, even once being the party’s nominee against popular Republican Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri. Ortega now seems to be better positioned this time than in 2004 but will he be too odd and left for the Scottsdale electorate?  For example, he contributed to former Democratic candidate for Arizona Governor Steve Farley’s 2018 campaign.  Farley has more in common with Bernie Sanders than most in Scottsdale.  This time Ortega will be facing Lisa Borowsky who ran a spirited, come from behind campaign to get into the runoff.  She is not as formidable as Manross was in 2004 but will likely have a sizable money advantage over Ortega.  But she better beware.  Ortega has no qualms about attacking people’s families.  And between her father and brother Borowsky has some colorful nuclear family members, even if such attacks are unfair and should be out of bounds.  Scottsdale’s electorate clearly displayed an ornery side last week.  And Ortega’s caustic and angry approach may strike a chord.  However, a look at the top 4 vote getters in the City Council race showed different points of view but also people who smile about Scottsdale’s future. The Ortega campaign will likely be contrasted with the more optimistic Borowsky. This will be a fun race to watch, and likely as nasty as it gets. For example, Ortega is already trying to paint Borowsky as a “zoning attorney.”  That’s unfair.  While she is helping her father, who owns property near Sedona with a development proposal there Borowsky’s law career has been focused exclusively on other areas of the law.  And it’s not as if Borowsky won’t have a response.  Ortega serves as a lobbyist for one of the most notorious landlords in the city.  So, get a seat and some popcorn.  This one’s going to be good.

*  Last but certainly not least, a shocking upset occurred in Arizona’s smallest incorporated town.  Located next the Grand Canyon, Tusayan has been ruled by a development group much the way mining towns were controlled by those special interests.  Along the way Tusayan became the most corrupt town in the state.  But, on Tuesday a native daughter, Clarinda Vail, rose up to say enough was enough.  She slaughtered the incumbent Mayor with an anti-corruption, reform-oriented approach.  When the other sides actually employ a majority of voters that’s a tough political nut to crack.  Yet, she did it.  And every Arizonan owes Vail a debt of gratitude.  Ours is a state named after the Grand Canyon. We now have integrity and independence on its doorstep rather than misplaced priorities and deceit.


By Recker McDowell —

Fire fighters and other first responders put their lives on their line every day to help others and to save lives. It is important they have the training, equipment, and gear to do their jobs. That includes the growing number of women working in frontline fields.

The Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association and Tucson Fire Fighters Association are both supporting a new study by Florida State University looking the design and mobility of firefighting gear for women.

The FSU study will look at the design and fit of protective gear for fire fighters from a women’s perspective. The study will look at gear and personal equipment used for fighting wildfires as well as structure and other fires in more urban settings.

There are more and more women working as fire fighters and other first responders. It is important that they have the best gear and equipment possible to do their jobs. That means supporting research such as the FSU study and for departments and having the proper resources for all first responders.

Click here for more information or to take part in the Florida State study.

By Recker McDowell —

COVID-19 has decimated nonprofit and charity events and fundraising. Here is one chance to help one of the region’s leading performing arts groups.

Valley Youth Theatre (VYT) will hold an 8-hour virtual telethon on Saturday, August 22nd. The event replaces the theatre’s annual fundraising gala.

The virtual effort will be streamed on Facebook, YouTube and at www.vyt.com.

The goal is to raise $250,000 and will feature 132 former cast members from the Phoenix-based youth theatre.

Valley Youth Theatre and other arts groups have been hit hard by COVID-19. VYT had to cancel the last two shows of its 31st season and the first two shows of its new 32nd season.

The virtual telethon replaces VYT’s gala which was canceled because of COVID-19.

Phoenix-based Two Second Media — which is owned by VYT Parents Chris and Candace Weir — offered to produce the virtual telethon at no charge.

Local media personalities including Yetta Gibson, John Hook, Cory McClosky, and Brad Perry will help host the telethon. Some businesses are also stepping up as sponsors including Sanderson Lincoln, software firm Clairvoyant, Freeport-McMoRan, Valley Toyota Dealers and KPMG.

Valley Youth Theatre is not alone in facing the challenges of COVID. Scores of arts groups, nonprofits and worthy community causes across Arizona and country.

The situation is requiring creativity from nonprofits and other groups. Support from sponsors and backers and finding the best ways to leverage technology.

Some groups have the gravitas community followings and social media footprints to pull off streaming events better than others.

But the key is for these efforts to garner support. They need support from the business community and the community overall. Arts groups and other nonprofits are severely challenged by COVID. They need our support.

By Recker McDowell —

A new venture from the renowned Pace Gallery in New York and Laurene Powell Jobs will bring new immersive art experiences to Miami.

The Superblue experiences will bring new contemporary and interactive installations to a Miami neighborhood near the Rubell Museum in December.  Powell Jobs is the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs. The effort could come to other cities.

Like so many other events and activities, the ambitious Superblue installations will have to navigate COVID-19 and social distancing.

You can check out stories from the New York Times and Miami Herald on Superblue here.

Immersive and interactive art exhibits (especially those that are outdoors) are going to become increasingly important for museums, artists and as tourism drivers for arts hubs.

This includes Scottsdale, which counts the arts as one of its major brands, tourism drivers, and economic development advantages.

The award-winning Canal Convergence events in Scottsdale already show how important public and interactive arts events can be for tourism, cultivating new arts fans and helping spur activity in the downtown area.

Established arts hubs such as Scottsdale along with emerging arts communities in cities such as Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert are going to have to create and cultivate cool events (with social distancing) to attract visitors and locals. These events can help bring more consumers out to visit cultural attractions and to spend money at local restaurants and shops.

We know how critical that is for many small businesses and restaurants with all the impacts of COVID-19. It is also critical of arts groups and cultural organizations to find new customers and revenue streams as they try to survive coming out of COVID and its impacts on more traditional shows and events.

New and creative arts events and installations can also enhance the economic development calling cards for Scottsdale, Gilbert, and other cities. Plenty of companies and entrepreneurs from markets such as New York, California, Portland, Chicago, and Seattle may look for new locations after the impacts of COVID and social unrest.

Read More

By Recker McDowell —

We are not sure when schools across Arizona and the country will fully reopen. But as schools and workplaces eventually get back to some sense of normalcy it will be as important as ever to support programs that help students with their academic and career paths.

Some of those notable efforts are through Jobs for Arizona Graduates which partners with schools, the business community, and other nonprofits to help students get their degrees and help prepare them for the next steps academically and career wise.

In Scottsdale, JAG partners with Scottsdale Leadership for a program that helps students at Coronado High School including informing them about jobs and careers and how to prepare and dress for interviews.

The program also collects new and lightly used business attire that students can wear to job and internship interviews.

Like other programs, the efforts are impacted by COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.

“During the school year, program students are exposed to local businesses through professional events and mock interview type situations,” said Anne Semerar-Gwin, who has helped Scottsdale Leadership’s efforts at Coronado High.

Semerar-Gwin said Coronado teacher Wendy Paez Gonzales leads the JAG program at the Scottsdale high school.

“Her ask was for our Scottsdale Leadership Project Lead it Forward (PLIF) team to establish a ‘clothes closet’, or means to provide students in the program a professional outfit to use at JAG events throughout the school year and beyond to post-graduation,” Semerar-Gwin said.

Scottsdale Leadership has conducted clothing drives to collect new and gently used business attire for students.

Semerar-Gwin said a pre-COVID visit to Coronado High reinforced the importance of the program and how mentoring and encouragement can mean a world of difference to a young person.Read More

By Recker McDowell —

Nancy Grant has volunteered at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale the past 8 years.

“I’m involved in animal care and releasing animals back into the wild,” Grant said.

The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center rescues, rehabilitates, and cares for wild animals including wolves, coyotes, foxes, bears, mountain lions, raccoons and javelinas.

Grant said she volunteers weekly at SWCC and finds the working and caring for animals in need very rewarding.

“I make sure the animals have fresh water and food. The bobcats are one of my favorites. I love giving them enrichments which are paper sacks filled with straw and scents. It makes all of us smile when they rub and play with the sacks,” Grant said.

“All of the animals at SWCC are fun to be around but the bobcats are the most rewarding. They’re always watching what you are doing when you are in their enclosure and love the enrichments, I give them,” she said.

Robin Wilson, volunteer coordinator at SWCC, said volunteers are essential for the wildlife center’s operations including the rescue and care of animals. The center sees an influx of orphaned, injured, and displaced wild animals in the summer months during wildfire season, Wilson said.

Grant has also volunteered at horse rescues and rehab facilities as well as dog rescues in Arizona and Texas.

Southwest Wildlife releases some wild animals it rescues out into the wild while others stay and are cared at the center’s sanctuary for health reasons.

“If animals can’t take care of themselves and can’t be returned to the wild it’s very comforting to know that they have a forever home at SWCC,” Grant said.

She said being able to release animals back into the wild is most rewarding.

“I must say the most rewarding part of my volunteer job is releasing an animal back into the wild. Either they blast out of their carrier or they are timid and slowly emerge. I always wish them the best and to be brave. It’s a great feeling that I was a small part of their life when I see them run into the forest or run toward the river,” Grant said.

Volunteers such as Grant are the backbone of our community. They are the ones helping animals in need at nonprofits such as Southwest Wildlife. They are helping our homeless and transient neighbors. They are helping school kids in need of supplies, computers and help with their reading or math. They are helping seniors who might not have family nearby who need help navigating COVID-19.

All these needs and causes have been impacted by COVID and its impacts on health and the economy. Nonprofit groups helping our community deserve our support and time. And volunteers such as Nancy Grant deserve our praise and accolades.

You can find more information on how to volunteer at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center here.

By Lincoln Shea —

For many in the horseracing industry, travelling from city to city is part of the business. Finding a church while on the move is not easy. That is why Turf Paradise provides an on-site chapel and a chaplain for its jockeys, trainers, and extended family of those who work in the horseracing industry.

Reverend John Shumaker has been the on-site Chaplain at Turf Paradise since 2007.

When the track is in season, he presides over church services on Sundays at Turf’s on-site chapel.  He also has bible study Tuesday nights. And he prays with the jockeys before the races every day. He has said the prayer service helps the jockeys feel safer and more confident.

Shumaker is proud to be part of a network of racetrack chaplains across the country. He is a Senior Chaplain at the Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA). Shumaker serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the RTCA. He was born in Mesa and grew up in Tempe. Shumaker has also served as a chaplain during the summers at the Arapahoe Race Park in Denver.

Even factoring in COVID-19, Turf Paradise has a season that is much longer than most other tracks which makes the establishment of an onsite chapel more practical. It is similar to an established parish with volunteers who assist in maintaining the chapel in addition to providing music and seasonal decorations.

The backside at Turf Paradise is like a small city where as many as 2,000 horses are stabled when live racing is underway. The Chapel is the de facto hub of that community, along with the restaurant and bar. Sunday services are generally well attended by people of multiple faiths.

By Recker McDowell —

Sports is known for its dynasties. The New York Yankees, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, and UCONN women’s basketball all come to mind.

In Scottsdale, there has also been a family sports dynasty when it comes to soccer. And that dynasty also shows the lesson of investing in our community and our young people.

The Struckman family’s success at soccer at Chaparral High School also provides some valuable lessons as we navigate COVID-19 and approach the August 4th primary and November elections.

Isabella Struckman was recently named the Gatorade Arizona Girls Soccer Player of the Year. She helped lead the Chaparral Firebirds girls’ soccer team to another 6A state championship. Struckman, who graduated with a 4.95 GPA, is headed to MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) where her sister Sophia now plays and her sister Olivia was also a standout at the prestigious engineering and technology school.

Olivia, Sophia, and Isabella Struckman helped lead Chaparral and their Arizona club teams to state championships and prominence. They have taken their dynasty from Arizona to Boston.

The family were also strong supporters of last year’s successful Scottsdale bond questions investing in key infrastructure (including youth sports fields and facilities) as well as a Scottsdale Unified School District Override that also invested in technology and programs.

Margarita Struckman, the girls’ mother, and Sophia Struckman penned a column last year in favor of the bonds

“My daughters were born and raised in Arizona, and they’ve succeeded at the highest levels thanks to adequate funding for schools and our city early in their lives. I don’t worry about them. I worry about the next generation of girls who will come behind them,” Margartia Struckman wrote in the Scottsdale Independent column.

Struckman said soccer helped pave her daughters’ way to MIT.

The full column can be seen here.Read More

By Recker McDowell —

An interesting video is circulating on Facebook and YouTube on the races for Scottsdale City Council and Scottsdale Mayor.

The video examines financial support from Sunbrella Properties to two mayoral candidates (David Ortega and Bob Littlefield) and three City Council candidates (Guy Phillips, Tom Durham and Betty Janik).

Scottsdale’s primary election for Mayor and Council is on August 4th.

You can check out the video here or on Facebook and YouTube.

By Recker McDowell —

The New York Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution today published an essay penned by U.S. Rep. John Lewis shortly before the civil rights icon died earlier this month.

Lewis’ farewell essay focuses on the current state of race, class, and democracy in America in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests. Lewis was a civil rights leader in the 1960s including organizing marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. He was among those bloodied by a police beating during one of those marches.

Lewis’ essay stresses non-violence and urges a next generation of activists to take the helm of the promise of democracy and the promise of treating each other better.

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring,” Lewis writes.

Lewis, who was a 17-term congressman from Georgia, wrote about the historic crossroads America is at in 2020 and encouraged young people and others to write that history in a positive way.

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide,” he said.

Lewis’ essay can be found in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.

The full New York Times column can be seen here.

By Recker McDowell —

We all know planning is not easy during this time of COVID-19. School districts, universities, workplaces, and small businesses are all navigating the moving targets of COVID cases and how to protect public health.

It can be a day-to-day exercise — just ask the Miami Marlins or local school districts across the country.

Still, we need to have long-range innovations and creativity beyond today’s news cycle and social media outrages. How and where we work, go to school, travel, visit, and socialize have changed and some of those changes could be more long-term or permanent.

That means our land-use, architecture, designs and basic logistics of everyday life are also changing.

The impetus is on architects, designers, planners, entrepreneurs, and policy makers to build a better mouse trap for our schools, our workplaces, and our communities. It is on each of us to come up with new ideas.

There some obvious trends arising focused on social distancing, outdoor spaces and more flexibility for workers, students, and others. We have seen some of that with cities allowing restaurants and shops to use parking lots and sidewalks more so they can abide by social distancing orders.

Those creative concepts need to become long-term design and land-use ideas to allow for social distancing that protects public health and allows the economy to reopen.  We need ideas to save jobs, help tourism and small businesses along with all the health concerns coming out of COVID.

This means thinking outside the box on all levels. This includes school districts, universities and local and regional elected officials and planners who make land-use decisions.  The old ways of thinking and planning will have to make way for some new realities and new ideas.

This means evolving some past policies including for permits, events, and designs. Entrepreneurs, small business owners, architects and designers who think outside the box and find creative solutions should be listened to and rewarded. Outdoor and flexible spaces will become key.

The same goes for elected officials and candidates. Those candidates with open, creative, and innovative minds who realize the gravity of the public health and economic situations with COVID are the ones votes should focus on at all levels of government.

We need to build better mouse traps at so many levels of life. We need to step up with vision and creativity and reward those who do.

By Recker McDowell —

COVID-19 has upturned so many aspects of daily life. Public health, jobs, and activities we have taken for granted such as travel, going to the movies or a sporting event or church have all been changed. We are still figuring out when many things will return to some resemblance of normal.

Volunteering and community work have also been impacted by COVID-19 when many need a helping and caring hand most. Social distancing and concerns about COVID spreading have forced some nonprofits and community groups to close or limit on-site services. Older volunteers and others have had to cut back on serving their communities to protect their health.

We hope and pray programs and volunteers who help seniors, kids, the homeless, and others can soon get back to doing what they do best: helping others and lifting up our communities.

One of those programs is the Experience Corps in Tempe. The program links adults 50-years of age and older with kids (kindergarten through 3rd grades) to help them improve their reading skills. The Corps is a partnership involving the city of Tempe and AARP. The effort has helped more than 3,000 kids with their reading skills since the program started in 2006. Tempe’s Experience Corps helped 480 elementary students this past school year, which was also impacted by COVID-19.  This program helps not only the kids but also the volunteers who are able to give back to our community. The Tempe effort is a national model for other cities with similar programs.

While social distancing and COVID-19 may impact when and how programs like Tempe’s Experience Corps return, we hope and pray it will continue to help kids as well as the volunteers who drive it.

Check out a video on the Experience Corps program here and more information on the collaborative effort between AARP and Tempe can be found here.

Staff Report —

Candidates for Mayor and City Council in Scottsdale are filing fresh campaign finance reports as they head toward the August 4th primary.

Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte lead the money race in the contest to succeed Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane who is term limited.

There are three City Council seats up for grabs with John Little, Tammy Caputi and Bill Crawford showing fundraising prowess.

We have updated the story as candidates have filed their reports and they have  been posted by the city of Scottsdale.


Suzanne Klapp

Total Raised – $187,788.76
Cash on Hand – $68,194.51
Individually Contributed – N/A

Virginia Korte 

Total Raised – $166,024.70
Cash on Hand – $87,987.69
Individually Contributed – N/A

David Ortega

Total Raised – $87,031.85
Cash on Hand – $50,136.04
Individually Contributed – N/A

Lisa Borowsky

Total Raised – $85,996.47
Cash on Hand – $2,688.98
Individually Contributed – $41,923.47 (loans)

Bob Littlefield 

Total Raised – $46,435.53
Cash on Hand – $6,277.33
Individually Contributed – $15,000 (via loan)

City Council

John Little

Total Raised – $75,600
Cash on Hand – $26,948.38
Individually Contributed – N/A

Tammy Caputi  

Total Raised – $73,980
Cash on Hand – $52,764.04
Individually Contributed – N/A

Bill Crawford

Total Raised – $59,440
Cash on Hand – $10,557.37
Individually Contributed – N/A

Guy Phillips

Total Raised – $44,118.33
Cash on Hand – $9,620.66
Individually Contributed – N/A

Betty Janik 

Total Raised – $40,459.92
Cash on Hand – $8,232.71
Individually Contributed – N/A

Tom Durham 

Total Raised – $37,387.06
Cash on Hand – $2,683.22
Individually Contributed – $5,000 (via loan)

Becca Linnig

Total Raised – $24,027.48
Cash on Hand – $13,624.22
Individually Contributed – N/A

Kevin Maxwell

Total Raised – $12,090
Cash on Hand – $979.33
Individually Contributed – N/A

Mike Auerbach

Total Raised – $11,128.26
Cash on Hand – $99.09
Individually Contributed – N/A


Dumb & Dumber was a slapstick comedy back in 1994. It’s an apt description of landlord lobbyist David Ortega’s campaign for Scottsdale Mayor in 2020.

Stung by documented, fair critiques of his Scottsdale record, the lowlight being his vociferous opposition to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve during his first, failed run for Mayor in 2004, Ortega has resorted to attacking the funders.

He’s even derided them as “dark money lobbyists.” Really?  Makes one wonder if Ortega has the faculties to actually be Mayor. NOTE TO DAVID. The money being used to oppose your candidacy is fully transparent. There it is for all to see in city campaign finance reports. Indeed, here is a link so anyone interested can see. We will speak slowly here. “Dark money” refers to contributions to a 501c4 whereby contributors can shroud their dough.

Either Ortega is too dumb to understand this – a disconcerting trait to be Mayor of such a great city – or he is simply duplicitous. But we already knew that.

After all, he talks of protecting Old Town and opposing tall buildings yet he was a godfather of them in the same area, voting for the removal of small business while on the City Council at what became the two 13 story towers at Scottsdale and Camelback.

A new video of his talks of being “For The Preserve.”  Yet, he was the chief opponent of a key measure to make the McDowell Sonoran Preserve happen in 2004.  He did so as a desperate gambit to gain traction in his race against then Mayor Manross. The Arizona Republic called it selfish. Ortega eventually lost in a landslide.

Ortega makes vague references to cleaning up City Hall, yet he is a paid lobbyist for a rich Old Town landlord who frequently tries to bend city officials his way.

He alludes to being for city council districts now to curry favor with southern Scottsdale residents but when it came time to support the most ambitious effort in the past two decades to do just that – a city-wide vote in 2004 – Ortega was nowhere to be found.  As he was when Mayor Lane tried to bring back a modified version of the concept in 2016.

Dumb and Dumber. That’s who David Ortega really is or who he thinks Scottsdale voters really are.

With numerous other quality candidates running for Mayor Scottsdale is not going to be so gullible in the August 4th election, will it? One of the best cities in American can surely do better than this rotten tomato.

By Recker McDowell —

Diane Vaszily has been volunteering at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale for the past 9 years.

Southwest Wildlife is home to orphaned, injured and rescued wild animals including wolves, bears, coyotes, foxes, deer, bobcats, skunks, and mountain lions. SWCC celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

Vaszily is a retired environmental educator so the wild animal rescue and rehabilitation center is a natural fit. She said she likes SWCC’s mission of educating the public about wild animals in the Southwest and finding a sustainable balance between wildlife and residents.

Vaszily also likes the variety of work she does at Southwest Wildlife. That ranges from serving as docent tour guide and serving on an emergency call team to coordinate the rescues of orphaned and injured animals to helping write tour and training guides and teaching classes on medicinal and edible desert plants.

“SWCC allows volunteers to share their talents in many, many ways and are open to new idea and methods in reaching their education goals,” she said.

Robin Wilson, volunteer coordinator at Southwest Wildlife, said volunteers are essential to the Scottsdale nonprofit’s operations.

“Right now, we have about 95 active volunteers at Southwest Wildlife. We have many different areas people volunteer with some of those assignments are weekly while others are on an as-needed basis.  On any given day you might find 10 to 20 volunteers performing many different tasks,” Wilson said.

Wilson said volunteers’ duties include animal care, helping rescue injured and orphaned animals, working in SWCC’s clinic and helping with tours, special events, and education programs.

Wilson said the summer months in Arizona present a challenge for SWCC when it comes to volunteers. “In the summer months that is when we have the most need for animal care volunteers and it is also when we end up with the fewest volunteers. We have a lot of volunteers who leave from April until October,” Wilson said.

Wilson said from April through the summer is also when Southwest Wildlife sees an influx of orphaned, injured, and displaced animals. She said SWCC has taken in 140 animals since April. “We are still getting new rescues and expect those to continue to come into August,” she said.

Vaszily also volunteers with the Desert Awareness Committee in Cave Creek. “I have been volunteering with them since 1992 when I first moved to Arizona.  Our mission is to educate others about the Sonoran Desert, its flora and fauna.”

She also volunteers during the summer at the Highlands Center of Natural History in Prescott.

Vaszily said SWCC offers many ways to volunteers for who want to make a difference for wildlife. “You can volunteer for one day a week, one day a month or many other combinations. This organization is truly a village of caring people who want to make a difference to wildlife. It is a fun, dedicated group who enjoy and support each other,” she said.

For more information on volunteering at SWCC:


By Scottsdale Pinetop —

In 1965, U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater led a citizen initiative to save Camelback Mountain. Over 55 years later, the fight continues in Paradise Valley.

And one Paradise Valley family has found a new, creative way to help preserve the beloved mountains.

The Story of Camelback Mountain is a new children’s book that tells the untold story of Camelback Mountain, an iconic Arizona landmark. The story is co-authored by long-time Paradise Valley resident Pam Hait and her granddaughter Estelle Cohen from Connecticut with brilliant illustrations by nationally recognized local artist Sebastien Million, who is also a Paradise Valley resident.

It started as a family story that has been passed down from generation to generation. The legend stars a young princess who is given a baby camel by her great grandfather. As the princess and camel continue their long journey together, they face many challenges as the princess continues to protect her camel and ultimately recruits “the People Who Care” to join her efforts.

All proceeds from the sale of the book go to benefit the Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust (PVMPT). The purpose of the PVMPT is to acquire, maintain, protect, and preserve the natural landscape, desert plants, wildlife, and scenic beauty of the “mountain preserves” in the Town of Paradise Valley.  The “mountain preserve” identifies all property included on Mummy Mountain, Camelback Mountain and Phoenix Mountain Preserve area within the Town’s boundaries.

The official launch of The Story of Camelback Mountain occurred at the Desert Botanical Gardens in February and is available in various locations throughout the Valley and online.

We had the chance to talk with co-author Pam Hait about the inspiration for the story and how the book came to be.

What inspired the story? How did the story evolve?

“When my grandchildren from Connecticut would visit our home in Paradise Valley, we were living at the base of the north slope on Camelback Mountain. They would ask me about the mountain and how it came to be. I would show them the camel and over time made up the tale.

As a long-time conservationist, I understood that Barry Goldwater had saved Camelback Mountain decades ago. However, new technology changed that.

When our neighborhood realized that some of the last “unbuildable lots” were now in peril, my husband and I joined our neighbors to try and save Camelback Mountain.

So when our grandchildren visited again from Connecticut, I embellished the original story and added a new “chapter” that the camel was upset about building creeping too high on its back and would stand up to shake off the structures. It just continued to evolve over time.”Read More

Listening to many of the candidates for Scottsdale Mayor and City Council prior to the August 4th primary election it’s as if no pandemic or economic pandemonium has occurred.

Oblivious to the economic trauma that has severely wounded our galleries, special events, restaurants, and small business candidates continue to rail against height and density. It’s like complaining about a cold rather than cancer.

There is one issue in this election:  how to get Scottsdale business back on its feet.

Without Scottsdale Fashion Square, car dealerships, major events, and businesses large and small getting back on track the city will not have the sales tax dollars to protect its quality of life. From payments for public safety personnel to fixing up parks and maintaining the McDowell Sonoran Preserve less will not be more.

Yet, we have some candidates railing against everything. And we have some purported “pro-business” candidates lacking the fortitude, or ability, to make the necessary, compelling case.

But height and density are not the enemy. Indeed, in appropriate areas they can be helpful, and necessary, to revitalization. For example, we think anyone, but David Ortega should be Scottsdale’s next Mayor. But his vote to approve the Scottsdale Waterfront, which offers two of the tallest buildings in the city, was a smart one. Likewise, there are parts of Scottsdale where height can make sense. Along freeways. In parts of downtown Scottsdale, but not all. Museum Square was approved by acclimation. Southbridge II was not, proving the point.

Rubber stamping every development proposal should never be the Scottsdale way. But neither should rejecting every one too, slamming the door on innovation, expansion and a can-do business spirit that will lift the city. You can always say no when opportunity knocks, but it’s as if some candidates don’t understand that economies must be curated not condemned.

Winning an election is not the end of the road.  Then comes governing. Councilwoman Solange Whitehead has shown you can be true to principle while also being practical and judicious. It’s a recent election example some of her cohorts would be wise to consider more fully since Scottsdale is facing the greatest economic collapse it will likely ever know, slowly but surely impacting every city resident, in addition to the extraordinary number of small businesses that have already been laid to waste.

2020 Scrum

Editor’s note: For years the Town Council in the Town of Tusayan, located just outside the Grand Canyon National Park,  had been controlled by a developer pursuing a controversial and unpopular project. A lifelong Tusayan resident who had stood up to the developer has now been elected Mayor. The following news release came from the newly elected Mayor, Clarinda Vail.

Clarinda Vail Prepares To Serve As Mayor Of Tusayan

August 7th, 2020

(Tusayan, AZ) An updated vote count shows Red Feather Properties Manager Clarinda Vail has likely been elected as Mayor of Tusayan. After Coconino County tallied 26 early ballots that were dropped off in Tusayan Election Day the vote count was 84 to 54. A final vote count is expected next week but it most likely would not change the outcome.

Vail is a native of Tusayan and has served on numerous local boards and commissions including the Grand Canyon School Board, The Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce Board, and the Kaibab Learning Center Board.

Vail said, “My sincere thanks to everyone who voted for me, as well as for those who did not.  That’s because I will be Mayor for all of Tusayan.”

Vail plans to initiate reforms to make sure local sales tax revenues benefit the residents of Tusayan work in earnest to accomplish projects residents demand such as the sports complex. She also wants to make sure public safety gets the funding needed to keep Tusayan safe and she will undertake new initiatives to bring quality housing to Tusayan.Read More

By John Little –

On more than one occasion, I have remarked that if I had a dollar for every friend I have made during my 35-year journey in Scottsdale, I would be a rich man. Today, I realize it is not simply the quantity of those friendships, but the depth. I have been touched to my core by the length and durability of the relationships I have been gifted to have with each of you.

I have tried my best to be of service to you in your time of need and to try to be present in your moments of joy and celebration. Today is my turn to be grateful for the trust you have placed in me and the support you have provided me on this journey.

But, every path we take in life is made more meaningful when it is taken with friends. Our adventures are amplified and enhanced when we are able to share the trials and tribulations and victories we all have along the way. Even without knowing the outcome of today’s vote in my city council race, I can tell you I am grateful to have traveled this path with you. Win or lose, first or last, the gift of your support and encouragement has been a blessing that I will always have with me.

It is impossible for my family, my team and my supporters to know the depth of my gratitude for the sacrifices they have made for me and, by extension, for our community. I could not bring myself to ask them to go out in public at the dawning of the pandemic to collect signatures to help me get on the ballot. But go out they did, with smiles and without complaint. Without their dedication, I would’ve been lost. It was their bravery that made possible this entire campaign.

But our job is not yet done. We have made commitments to more fully engage with our schools, to promote renewable energy, to bolster our reputation as a healthy, clean, and safe place to live and visit. We have made promises to fight injustice, and address the housing needs of young families and seniors. We are prepared to embrace new opportunities for quality growth and job creation and to continue to support tourism while diversifying our economy.

And while COVID might keep us apart, we will find a way to achieve our goals together.

Gratefully yours,


John Little is a candidate for Scottsdale City Council.

Data Orbital : What happened and what it means for November  —

With the primary election tomorrow, we’re giving you our takeaways from the early vote data. There are still tens of thousands of ballots to be cast on Election Day, but the ballots mailed back thus far paint an interesting picture.

Here are the high-level highlights you need to know going into Tuesday:

  • 1,063,828 Ballots Cast
  • 2,316,329 Ballots Requested
  • 45.6% Return Rate
  • 26.7% Turnout
  • 0.9% Democrat Ballot Advantage (representing 9,900 ballots) 

Interesting takeaways:

  1. Turnout is high: We have seen more overall ballots returned than ever before in a primary election – 1,063,828. As a comparison, we saw about 835,000 ballots returned in 2018 and 682,000 in 2016. While we don’t know yet if these are people who would usually drop their ballots off, we are on pace to hit at least 30% overall turnout.
  2. Democratic turnout is exceeding Republican turnout: While we don’t know how Election Day turnout will fare, we are on pace to see something that we haven’t seen in Arizona in at least the last two decades – more Democratic ballots cast than Republican ballots. There is some hope for Republicans, though, Democrats have 1.4% more of their ballots returned. That 1.4% represents about 15,000 Republican ballots.
  3. More Independents have cast Democratic ballots than Republican: In Arizona, Independents can choose to vote in either party primary or cast a non-partisan ballot. This year, they have cast a total of 117,845 ballots and about 8,800 more in Democratic primaries than Republican. As a comparison, in the previous two cycles Independents have cast between 10,000 and 12,000 more ballots in Republican primaries than in the Democratic primaries.

While primary turnout does not specifically correlate to general election performance, Republicans need a big Election Day performance to mitigate some of these troubling numbers. Democrats have not traditionally had a lot of primary elections – which has driven down their turnout in the last two cycles – but high turnout this year is occurring in places with and without contested primaries on the Democratic side.

We will have at least one additional update from Maricopa and Pima counties today that can be seen here. Stay tuned for a full debrief post-election to see if these trends from mailed early ballots held or if the trends simply represented Democratic voters mailing in versus dropping off on Election Day because of COVID concerns.

*Data is current as of 8/02/20 at 6:00pm*


Data Orbital is a full-service data solutions and survey research firm with local, state, and national experience.  We offer precise data solutions, informed by political and policy intelligence, so our clients can chart the right course through the corporate or political landscape ahead.

By Virginia Korte —

One of the greatest freedoms is the right to vote and is the foundation of any democracy. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in 1964: “The right to vote freely for the candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government.”

This Tuesday, August 4 is the Primary Election in Arizona.  This is your opportunity to cast your support for national, state, county and local candidates.  In Scottsdale, it is your opportunity to exercise your freedom and impact the future of our community.

I want to express my gratitude to the citizens of Scottsdale.  I am thankful for the opportunity to engage in countless meaningful discussions with so many people and know that working together we will get through this challenging time.

Please take a moment to listen to my message to Scottsdale citizens:


Virginia L. Korte

Virginia Korte is a candidate for Scottsdale Mayor.


By John Little —

Friends and neighbors,

The City of Scottsdale is a pioneer in providing services to address the needs of our community members with disabilities.

The city’s Adaptive Services Division is a nationally-recognized office that offers essential services and opportunities for training, education, entertainment, life skills, and outdoor recreation.

Furthermore, our public schools present a great range of programs to assist students of all abilities preparing for their life’s journey. Also, there are numerous, renowned non-profit agencies which call Scottsdale “home.”

These organizations provide essential services to, and advocate on behalf of, every single Scottsdale resident.

Helping those with disabilities has been one of my life’s missions.

I have been honored to serve as a member of the Board of Directors for one such Scottsdale-based charitable organization, the Miracle League of Arizona.

The MLAZ provides an opportunity for people with special health care needs to experience the joy of partaking in “America’s Pastime,” baseball, in a safe and supportive setting. The group’s work is magical to witness. But as I listen to parents of special needs students, I am increasingly aware that we have fallen short of full inclusion on both national and local stages, and in the creation of true equal access.

Earlier this week, our nation celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Modeled after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it’s a landmark civil rights law designed to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. And while both the Civil Rights Act and the ADA offer protections and prohibit certain discriminatory practices, neither has fulfilled the promise of true equality of opportunity, or guaranteed justice for all.

Even with its shortcomings, the ADA has effectively built a floor on which every person can stand when reaching for the ceiling of equal opportunity. We observe this in Scottsdale. This floor has enabled meaningful progress and advanced inclusion. But more can, and must, be done.

As a candidate for Scottsdale City Council, I pledge to do more. I will listen to the voices of those who face obstacles and may have nowhere to turn. Our city needs a leader who will tell all of our community members, “Why just reach for the ceiling when you can reach for the stars?”


John Little is a candidate for Scottsdale City Council.