Reflections On Arizona’s Primary Elections A Week Later

* 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.