Guest Editorial: Run Up to the Runoff

By Scottsdale Pinetop

It’s been a whirlwind of an election season.

After a chaotic Arizona’s U.S. Senate that dominated media headlines, the Phoenix mayoral runoff election is expected to be a quiet finale to the 2018 election season. But that doesn’t make it any less important. In fact, who will lead the nation’s fifth largest city might just be the biggest decision Phoenicians will have to make.

Since none of the four candidates running for Phoenix mayor were able to garner 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters, Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela, will face off in a special runoff election in March.

Though Gallego fell short of an outright win, she did manage to win nearly 45 percent of the vote, putting her at 19 percentage points ahead of Valenzuela. And that’s not insignificant, especially when trying to create momentum to carry the campaign forward.

For months, Daniel Valenzuela has been considered the political front-runner to become Phoenix’s next mayor. The former councilman has worked vigorously to secure high-profile endorsements and contributions. His list of supporters includes former Phoenix mayors like Phil Gordon and Paul Johnson, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, former Attorney General Grant Woods and many others. And his wallet isn’t short of a few heavy-hitters like Jerry Colangelo. But this hasn’t been enough to carry him across the finish line. He’s just not connecting. And, after announcing that he would continue his job as a Glendale firefighter while serving as mayor, his hold on the job was put into jeopardy. This decision has cost him respect and votes from his fellow Phoenicians.

On the other hand, Kate Gallego has made a name for herself.  Starting out as the underdog, Kate Gallego has proven to be a compelling politician and formidable candidate.  Her campaign messages have been predominantly progressive, proactive and inclusive – a message that can appeal to the majority of Phoenicians not just the business elite. Unlike most politicians, she does not hide behind money and embraces collaboration between companies that invest in Phoenix’s future. Gallego knows how to connect with the community and Phoenicians are taking her seriously. As they should.

There are some big decisions facing the city of Phoenix. In a city of 1.6 million people, Phoenix needs a mayor that has an understanding of the issues, ability to collaborate with the community and shares a clear vision for the future. Kate Gallego checks all of the boxes to be Phoenix’s next mayor.