After serving on the Scottsdale City Council nearly 3 decades ago when he basically saved the Cactus League from extinction Jim Bruner was elected to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
Well regarded and well liked Bruner was the prohibitive favorite for an attractive new congressional district. Then Jerry Colangelo got to thinking about bringing Major League Baseball to town. Then Colangelo tapped into a latent state law allowing the Board of Supervisors to authorize a county-wide sales tax to fund a new baseball stadium.
The public erupted in opposition, despite Colangelo’s monumental success with the Phoenix Suns at the time.
Bruner became the deciding vote. The choice was awful: fund a stadium and bring a new franchise to town or so alienate Republican primary voters that your congressional hopes would die. Bruner made the tougher choice. And the Valley has forever been enriched thanks to his selflessness.
But that wasn’t the end of Bruner’s civic service. Yes, he finished a distant third in that 1994 GOP primary but people like Bruner and their insatiable appetite for service and advancement are what propel communities forward.
He, along with others, had an idea to build a stand-out western art museum in Scottsdale. There were plans, articles, fits, starts but the idea languished. Still, Bruner didn’t give up. Their big break came 7 or 8 years ago when Scottsdale voters authorized an increase in hotel sales taxes to fund new tourist amenities, like museums. Bruner and the group recruited a highly accomplished museum director, Michael Fox. Then they successfully sought City Council approval to fund construction of what has become the Museum of the West, just off Main Street in downtown Scottsdale. Last year, the museum became a Smithsonian affiliate, an incredible achievement in the limited time since the facility’s debut. What the ill-fated Canals of Scottsdale concept couldn’t bring to downtown Scottsdale in 1999 Bruner was able to do in 2015.
Does history make people or do people make history? We know the answer to that question when it comes to Jim Bruner. From Scottsdale Stadium to a World Series to the Smithsonian. He is a Scottsdale Hall of Famer. A one of a kind western spirit. Now. Always.