By Scottsdale Pinetop
Tammy Caputi has been a Scottsdale resident and business owner for over twenty years and has three children attending local public schools. Tammy is the President and Owner of Yale Electric West, a wholesale supplier of lighting and electrical products. She’s a Fellow with the Flinn-Brown Center for Civic Leadership. She also served the last three years on the Scottsdale Development Review Board. She’s currently the Chair of SCOTT, an organization dedicated to expanding public awareness of important local issues and empowering citizens to act.
Tammy Caputi gathered 29,687 votes in the August 4th primary, which made her one of the top vote-getters among the city council candidates and will move on to the November 3rd General Election.
We had a chance to catch up with Tammy Captui about her take on the election results, issues facing Scottsdale and hope for the city’s future.
- Your campaign had an impressive finish in the August election. What do you attribute your success to in the Primary race?
My success in the Primary race was due to hard work and a message that resonates with people. I want Scottsdale to be even better for my kids than it’s been for me. My passion is the future of our city; our livability and quality of place. This means economic vitality, a diverse, resilient economy, quality development with public benefits, and collaboration with our schools, so our children can get a topnotch education and find good jobs from hire to retire. I am working tirelessly on my campaign; leaving it all on the field!
- Based on the primary results, what do you believe that says about the mindset of Scottsdale residents?
I believe voters are looking for a moderate, well-rounded candidate who has the experience needed to lead our city, but isn’t an “insider”. Voters want someone who has a vested interest in our city, a vision that resonates, and the ability to enact it. We need councilmembers who will govern with facts and open minds and integrity, who will create consensus and promote collaboration, who will have the training, business skills and creativity to help rebuild our local economy. I think voters connected with me because I have children in our local schools, I run a business that generates revenue in our city, I’m a longtime Scottsdale homeowner and taxpayer who treasures and uses our desert trails every day, and can balance the need for open spaces with nurturing our economic drivers to keep our city successfully moving forwards.
- You are a strong supporter of expanding business development and economic growth for Scottsdale. If elected, how do you plan to encourage growth without losing Scottsdale’s unique charm and character, especially in the Downtown area?
Old-town is four square blocks and should be preserved as a historic district- let’s just place Historic Old Town on the Historic Register and remove it from the conversation. Downtown Scottsdale is about 2 square miles: 1% of our total land mass of 185 square miles. The area zoned for Type 3 height is only a few square blocks. I support the Down Town Character Area Plan and the years-long process that developed it. Larger-scale projects are appropriate in a few very specific areas. Mixed use developments allow people to live, work, and play downtown, creating a thriving, walkable, year-round venue for residents and tourists. This decreases traffic, pollution, and parking problems. 47% of our city revenues come from sales taxes. Downtown activity generates the crucial revenue that keeps our property taxes low and our quality of life high. A few select larger-scale projects limited to very specific areas are essential for maintaining our economic reality. We can grow strategically while maintaining our charm. It’s a balance.
- You’ve served on the Scottsdale Development Review Board for three years and made recommendations on various large development projects. How has this experience impacted your position on development in Scottsdale?
I can’t judge any project until I see it; I judge every project on its own merit, with an open mind and an understanding of the facts. I also make sure I’ve spoken with all the stakeholders involved. We have excellent examples of projects such as Museum Square that are beautiful, revitalize the area, achieve wide-ranging support, and provide enormous public benefits. We can strive to maintain excellence while improving economic vitality. Serving for 3 years on DRB allowed me to become familiar with our standards and guidelines and character area plans. It gave me an appreciation for making sure development fits within the context of the surrounding neighborhood. It also made me realize you can’t please everyone all the time, but you can negotiate and compromise to make sure everyone gets at least what they need, if not everything they want.
- Many Scottsdale businesses are hurting. What would you do to help them?
Short term we can use all the federal and local relief programs available to us, like the CARES act money. Longer term, we need to work on ways to stimulate our economic recovery and improve our business climate. We need to keep working to diversify our economy into areas that aren’t as sensitive to economic downturns and encourage new business and opportunities and keep our community safe so we can bring back tourists and commerce. We need to collaborate with our school districts to help get our kids safety back to school so parents can get back to work. The government shouldn’t dictate how the private sector grows, but we can reduce cumbersome regulations and help encourage opportunities that benefit both the city and investors in our community. The recent deal with Axon is a great example where everyone benefitted.
- Scottsdale has become increasingly divided on various issues including development and the future of Scottsdale. How do you plan to mend the divide?
Our community needs less “us” vs “them” thinking, and more about how to work together; how to balance our economic drivers and our tax base with our open spaces and our neighborhoods. We need less “silos” and more communication between residents, commissions and the City Council about what makes sense economically and for the neighbors. We need earlier and more aggressive outreach to bring neighbors into the collaboration. This will also help our efforts for updating the General Plan. I will strive for diverse representation from different neighborhoods and backgrounds on city commissions.
We need to update the General Plan so that it clearly reflect the needs, desires, and aspirations of our current population, and we should involve all our residents, as early as possible, in crafting it. An updated General plan will help provide general guidance and long term planning. At the same time, we must remember it’s an aspirational document; we need to retain flexibility to adjust to changing market conditions. We have learned through the recent crisis that systems can be changed quickly when needed, and can be made better in the process. We should increase outreach and leverage technology so everyone has a voice and correct facts, to make the best decisions for everyone in our city.
- With the circumstances brought by COVID-19, how have you been able to reach voters and get your message out? Do you plan on doing anything different leading up to the November election?
I will continue to work as hard as I can through every medium available to get my positive, forward thinking message out to as many voters as possible. I will keep sharing solutions with the voters for helping us to move forward, rebuild our economy, protect our health, and get our kids back to school.
- In your opinion what is the driving issues for the November election for Scottsdale?
Everyone’s main concern is, of course, our economy, and how we will recover as a city. I spoke with thousands of residents over the last few months, and the questions I was asked most were about reforming the police department, making sure we develop the city with thoughtfulness and respect for our standards and guidelines, managing our public health crisis, and whether and how we should be re-opening our schools. People are also very concerned about how partisanship impacts the council race, and are generally relieved to know that I choose not to register with a party. If we focus on our shared values instead of party affiliation we can find common ground and solutions that work for everyone.
- What don’t people know about Tammy Caputi and your campaign for City Council?
I have over 300 donors from every occupation, demographic, geographic area and party affiliation. I have wide and deep community support from residents, the business community, the education community, my faith community, and my neighbors. I run the streets of my neighborhood every day wearing a “Caputi for Council” tank top and smile as I see my yard signs in my neighbor’s lawns!