Featured Editorials




The Works Of Three Arizona Trailblazers Featured In February At The Larsen Gallery

(Scottsdale, Ariz.) Their life stories couldn’t be more different and their backgrounds more diverse, but all three create unique art and are genuine trailblazers who have made or continue to make Arizona history.

The Larsen Gallery will be exhibiting for the month of February works by the legendary Native American artist Fritz Scholder, outgoing Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and groundbreaking artist Ahmed J. Cannon.  An Opening Reception will be held on Thursday, February 2nd from 5 -8 pm at the Larsen Gallery located at 3705 N Bishop Lane in Scottsdale. Those interested in attending must RSVP to RSVP@LarsenGallery.com.

In addition to being a longtime fixture in Arizona politics and the outgoing Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Russell “Rusty” Bowers has spent decades as a professional artist. He is a classically trained artist specializing in watercolor, oil painting, and sculpting.  Now free of the demands and constraints of politics, Bowers is focusing on this decade’s long passion. A lifelong conservative, his decision to affirm the results of the 2020 presidential election and defend those actions before the U.S. Congress earned him a John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award in 2022.

Scholder’s work continues to draw international acclaim nearly two decades after his death. His art is featured yearly at the Larsen Gallery. Primarily based in Arizona during his lifetime, his paintings have helped redefine Native American art while shattering stereotypes. Scholder’s art has been the topic of more than a dozen books and two PBS documentaries. His art is in the permanent collections of numerous major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In recent years the value of his works has rapidly accelerated in value, routinely fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single painting.

Cannon was born in Chicago. He trained in and is currently based in Scottsdale. Cannon specializes in realistic oil portraits. His series The Jazz Men includes portraits of Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Louis Armstrong, Herbie Hancock and Arizona’s Doc Jones.

A large portion of the sales from Cannon’s work will benefit the Molina School of Jazz, a local charity that provides music education for children. Doc Jones serves as its Executive Director.

The exhibition for all three artists will run from the Opening Night Reception on February 2nd through the entire month of February to coincide with Black History Month.Read More

First Major Musical Act Announced With Stunt Shows, Scenic Charity Rides, Contests, Camping, and More Concerts On Tap! 

Start revving your engines – one of the country’s largest bike rallies, Arizona Bike Week returns to WestWorld of Scottsdale starting Wednesday, March 29th through Sunday, April 2nd, 2023. http://www.azbikeweek.com/

Reservations have already started for camping. Book your RV or tent campsite today and start planning your trip to Arizona Bike Week 2023. With an expected attendance of 75,000 peopleAZ Bike Week is officially one of the country’s top biker rallies.

Just announced legendary rock band STAIND will take to the stage in the RockYard on Saturday, April 1st, 2023. More big acts and national bands will be announced in the coming weeks. Single Concert and All Concert Passes are on sale now for the four-night music festival in the RockYard. The tremendous concert lineup Arizona Bike Week offers each year has played a big role in making the rally an annual excursion for riders from all across the country. But music fans arriving on four wheels are welcomed warmly by the biker community as well. 

“We are so excited to bring back Arizona Bike Week 2023. This is our 26th year and it just gets bigger and bigger every year. Scottsdale has it all from amazing riding to great bands and the best venue at WestWorld. Whether you are a beginner or experienced biker or not a rider at all, there is something for everyone with exciting rides, events, concerts, contests and great things to see and do every day,” said Lisa Cyr of Arizona Bike Week. 

There are also several charity components to Arizona Bike Week.

The Arizona Bike Week Charities Group runs the registrations for charity rides, as well as a number of other duties at the event. They use the funds they raise working at the event for a variety of community service functions, including sponsoring hundreds of Christmas gifts for families in need. More information can be found here http://abwcg.org/.

Tickets are just $15 for the entire week of rally admission. Concert tickets are sold separately.

Other elements leading up to and at the event include the T-Bar Trail Ride, Dry Heat Run, Happy Hour Parties, After Hours Parties, Stunt Shows, Campground Contests, Bike Shows, Factory Demo Rides, National Bands performing nightly in the RockYard and all of the best bands from the local music scene performing day and night in the PowerYard.

More RockYard concert announcements and PowerYard events are coming soon.

WestWorld of Scottsdale is located at 16601 North Pima Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

For more information on Arizona Bike Week call (480) 644-8191 or visit www.Azbikeweek.com.

To set-up an interview or request photos please email Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at JParks-Sturgeon@RoseAllynPR.com or call (480) 495-3806.

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Reposted from the Scottsdale Progress

Professional polo player Nic Roldan is enamored with Scottsdale.

“It’s beautiful,” he says via telephone from Florida.

“There are plenty of things to do day and night. I love hiking and golfing. It has plenty of great restaurants, beautiful people and the energy’s great. It’s a fun place to be.”

He’ll return to the Valley for America’s Greatest Polo Party – The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Presented by Talking Stick Resort, on Saturday, November 5, at WestWorld of Scottsdale.

More than 13,000 fans showed up in 2021 for the one-day event. New for 2022 is Prosecco and Popcorn by Harkins Theaters, Grimaldi’s Pizza Disco, an expanded Scottsdale Charro Lounge, a special appearance by “Elvis,” former Arizona Coyotes Capt. Shane Doan taking the field, and an on-site boat and plane display.

“There is always something for everyone at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships,” says Jason Rose, founder and owner.

“Whether you are rich or poor, Black or white, or young or old, we provide a diversity of experiences beyond polo. Besides the four action-packed polo matches, guests can also enjoy fashion shows, including those of the canine variety, performances by the Phoenix Boys Choir, Arizona Opera, a top saxophonist, jazz bands, DJs, and displays of dozens of collector and exotic cars led by Bentley Scottsdale and Barrett-Jackson.”

Rose is thrilled that Roldan will lead the Aspen Valley Polo Club again this year, but there are two surprises on tap, he says. From “across the pond,” and for the first time in several years due to COVID-19, the Wales Polo Team will play Royal Berkshire Polo Club, both of whom count King Charles as members, thus the new King Charles III Salute Match.

“It’s in honor of the new king and the return of two of our favorite teams who have played in the event before,” Rose says. “Then there is something unique: the polo debut of former NHL and Arizona Coyotes star Shane Doan. Shane is quite an equestrian but has never played polo before. That’s why he is training in the weeks leading up to the event to debut his ‘horse hockey’ skills with the Arizona Polo Club team on November 5.”

Also confirmed to play in 2022 are Roldan’s Aspen Valley Polo Club, USA Women’s Team, Switzerland, the El Paso-Naranjo Polo Club and Arizona Polo Club.

Roldan has played for the Aspen Valley Polo Club, owned by Marc and Melissa Ganzi, for close to 10 years, he says.

“Marc and Melissa and their organization are like family to me,” he says. “I’ve been working with them year-round for a long time now.”

He is passionate about his sport, citing the horses as his source of inspiration. Travel is next.

“I love to travel,” Roldan adds. “I love seeing new places. I just got back from Azerbaijan. Then, there’s the sport itself. It’s hard to compare it to any other sport. The speed and adrenaline and the complexity of the sport are something I just love.

“Every day I learn new things, and I’m trying to improve and keep up with these young kids. There is an influx of young, insane talent in our sport.”

Fourth-generation star

Born December 4, 1982, in Buenos Aires, Roldan grew up with horses in Wellington, Florida, and Boston, as he started riding at age 2.

He comes from a long line of polo players: His great-grandfather, Audilio Bonadeo Ayrolo, won the Argentine Open in 1931 and 1938, while his grandfather and father also played.

“He pushed me, in a way, to play polo, but he wasn’t forcing me,” he says about his father. “He really pushed me to follow my dreams, work hard and pursue my passions. I have a hugely supportive family. My father played polo his whole life.”

Roldan played in his first tourney when he was 6 and turned professional at 15, when he became the youngest polo player to win the 1998 U.S. Polo Open with the Escue Team. When it became too hard to balance school and polo, his parents hired a private tutor to educate Roldan.

“It’s historically one of the most important tournaments in the world,” Roldan says about the U.S. Polo Open. “I was the youngest to win the U.S. Open at 15 years old, but it feels like a lifetime ago. I’m 40 now. I say this all the time, but at the end of the day, it’s what kick-started my career.”

Polo is comparable to hockey, as it’s electric, fast, physical and rough, yet it’s the perfect spectator sport, he says.

“The beauty of polo is it gives me a lot of free time,” he says. “As an athlete in general, you can’t be training every day nonstop. I really started to grow a passion for real estate and interior design and architecture. As I was getting older — in my mid-20s — I started to invest money in houses, gutting and flipping them and selling them. I did really well with it.”



ICONIC’s Expansion Reflects a Growing Trend in the Luxury Lifestyle Niche & The Power of Print

ICONIC LIFE, a national digital luxury lifestyle magazine that celebrates living beautifully and all things ICONIC, showcases the vibrant people in design, food, style and travel is proud to announce its expansion into Southern California, following success in print in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In May, ICONIC LIFE launched its quarterly print magazine, alongside enterprised digital content focusing on all things beautiful and ICONIC in Orange County. While all the content is also found digitally on www.iconiclife.com, readers can access a digital flipbook of the elegant print magazine online as well.  The beautifully designed, high-quality edition of ICONIC LIFE with its matte-velvet cover and original fashion meets architecture photography is mailed to the wealthiest homeowners in Orange County and is also found found at luxury retailers, private jet hangars and luxury resorts in Orange County, California. 

For the past 5 years, ICONIC LIFE has relished in its popularity by upholding its four pillars: Design, Food, Travel, and Style. Between the digital platform and print editions, the brand offers a 360-degree approach to luxury, offering readers and followers a deeper experience through a robust social media initiative, a video series and the publisher’s podcast ICONIC HOUR with Renee Dee.

The publication, which is currently based of out of Scottsdale, Arizona curates quarterly content with features highlighting exceptional design, architecture, style, cuisine, luxury travel, real estate, wellness, and how to your best life.
“Even before I got into the magazine and publishing world many decades ago, I have always been fascinated listening to the personal stories of those designers, architects and builders who represent the best of the best. ICONIC LIFE marries a long love of learning and curating content that I hope will inspire our readers. Whether it’s interviewing the top culinary talent, working with couture fashion brands or taking our readers through some of the many luxurious estates we cover, ICONIC is a celebration of living beautifully and focuses on stunning imagery and captivating stories that also stand the test of time. That is what is ICONIC,” said Renee Dee, ICONIC LIFE Founder and Publisher.

Dee got her career start working for one of the biggest national publishers, Meredith Corporation. After publishing her first magazine in 1996, Dee conceived ICONIC LIFE magazine about a decade after exiting her first publication. As a life-long entrepreneur, managing a woman-owned business, she shares her time between Scottsdale, Arizona and Orange County, California, showcasing beautiful lifestyles, and the highest-end products, amenities and services for the most discerning consumers.

Dee says she chose the expansion of ICONIC LIFE to Southern California due to similarities between the Scottsdale and Orange County markets, and she already had roots there, living in OC twice in the last two decades.

“Both are luxury-loving markets and have many residents owning homes in both markets. Both markets are leaders in the country for growth, luxury lifestyles, high-design home aesthetics, and a resort-lifestyle atmosphere for everyday living,” she said.

ICONIC LIFE’s expansion will focus on Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Corona Del Mar, Huntington Beach, Laguna, and Dana Point. The luxury content of the magazine is curated for a sophisticated, upscale audience. Already ICONIC LIFE is supporting several local charities and professional organizations, and this fall, just announced its first class of Top Designers in Orange County in the next issue in Orange County, available now.

“We are so incredibly proud and excited about this expansion,” said Carlye Klick, Marketing Director for ICONIC LIFE. “The magazine has already been widely accepted in Orange County with Dee at the helm. Her firm understanding of the area, deep connections in the community and uber luxury approach make the magazine the perfect fit for the Orange County. 

Dee says five years in, her mission at ICONIC LIFE continues strive to be leader in the luxury market not only in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona but now similarly in Orange County, and additional markets to come.

For more information visit www.iconiclife.com or call (480) 330-3737.

After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a night of FREE holiday movies returns to America’s favorite discount theatre

(TEMPE, Ariz.) – After a two-year hiatus and more than a million dollars in cinema renovations, Valley Real Estate Entrepreneur Michael Pollack is thrilled to welcome back the community with a night of FREE holiday movies, carolers and more holiday lights than ever before at Pollack Tempe Cinemas.

Make plans now to join Michael Pollack starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 17th, 2022 for this very special night as Pollack flips the switch to more than 500,000 holiday lights and offers 4 FREE Holiday movies for one showing only at Pollack Tempe Cinemas, located on the corner of McClintock and Elliot Roads in Tempe.

Pollack Tempe Cinemas will offer the following movies FREE of charge on Thursday, November 17th – Elf, A Christmas Vacation, Polar Express, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The movies will begin at 6:30 p.m. Seating is limited, and guests are encouraged to arrive early, as the movies will be offered on a first come-first serve basis.

This year’s celebration is extra special as this is the return of Pollack’s FREE holiday movie night after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The theater remained closed for more than a year and a half while it underwent an extensive million-dollar renovation.Read More

Featured Editorials

By Maricopa County Supervisor Thomas Galvin

I’m proud that 1.56 million Maricopa County residents voted in the 2022 election. It’s the second-highest midterm election turnout for Maricopa County in the last 50 years. Here are some additional interesting statistics.

  • 52% of the votes cast were sent in early by mail
  • 22% of the early ballots returned were dropped off at a polling site on election day
  • 16% of votes were made in person at polling booths on election day
  • Maricopa County voter turnout was 64.2%. The voter turnout for the state of Arizona was 62.6%.

I’ve repeatedly stated and did so again at Monday’s Board meeting, that the County takes responsibility for the ballot printer issues that occurred at some polling sites. Any negative incident or experience is unacceptable to me. I empathize with any voters who did not have an optimal experience on Election Day, and I will see to it that the County addresses this. I have questions about what happened, and I want to get to the bottom of it.  However, we must be vigilant in thwarting and refuting misinformation that gets spread on social media. I have seen a lot of misinformation get spread after each of the last two elections which only serves to sow confusion, doubt, and acrimony.

Finally, and most importantly, I believe changes must be made at the County and state levels regarding election procedures. I will push for the County to review, firm up, and improve election procedures. I share the frustration of many who wonder why we don’t have more votes counted on election night. But state law dictates how counties tally votes in Arizona, and we must be mindful of well-intentioned ideas that could create unintended consequences. Therefore, I have studied how Florida overhauled their election system and I’m studying other states too. I believe we can make substantive changes in Arizona, and I intend to push and be an advocate for the changes that need to be made at the County level and those that need to be made at the state legislature.

Please click here to view the remarks I made at the Board’s hearing to canvass the 1.56 million votes cast by Maricopa County residents.

Ribbon Cutting for NOAH’s New Cholla Health Center in Scottsdale

NOAH Cholla's Health Center

I was honored to attend and give remarks at the beautiful new Cholla Health Center in Scottsdale. The new Cholla Health Center is the integration of three Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) East Valley locations into one facility. This clinic will have the capacity to serve a higher volume of patients, offer more services, and ultimately help more people than the previous locations combined. This is a great addition to Scottsdale and the surrounding East Valley communities.

Video of the Ribbon Cutting Event – YouTube

Arizona Giving Machines Ribbon Cutting in Gilbert

Arizona Giving Machines

I was fortunate to attend the Ribbon Cutting for the Light the World Giving Machines placed at the Town of Gilbert Water Tower the week before Thanksgiving. It was a beautiful and moving ceremony. The machines are paid for by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and 100% of the proceeds go to local charities who then deliver your selected gift to an individual or a family in need. The gift may be meals for a family, a soccer ball, a pair of tennis shoes, or a scholarship that will allow a child in Africa to get an education. It is your choice.

I was thrilled to make my choice knowing that I had done something to share the light of goodness and love in my community. What a great way to bring us together as a community and as people, as brothers and sisters on this planet earth.

For Giving Machine Locations Near You

Visiting Head Start

Pizzo Family

I had a wonderful time reading to children at a Head Start school in Mesa. Maricopa County runs 6 Early Head Start classrooms, 18 Head Start classrooms, and 2 Home Bases in District 2. This is an effective program for children aged 12 months to 5 years. I was particularly impressed by the professional, award-winning staff. Each child is cared for and welcomed into a safe learning environment.

I was honored to meet with a few parents and hear from them as they told me about their appreciation for what Head Start has done for their families.

One of the parents said, “Head Start has been a game changer for our family! The staff…continually work with our [children’s] medical and behavioral needs to help them learn and grow so much.”

Another parent said, “It is you all there at the first Methodist Church Head Start that has taught all three [of my] kids and motivated them to look at life with passion in anything they do. We are glad that six years ago we joined Head Start.”

Comments at BOS Formal

Video: Supervisor Galvin reading a book to Head Start students

Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Gaming Grant Luncheon

SRP Gaming Luncheon Collage

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Scottsdale held its annual Gaming Grant Luncheon. At this terrific event, they honored the organizations that do great work throughout Maricopa County. Click on the video button for comments I made at an earlier Board Meeting.

Comments from BOS formal 11/2/2022

Good Government in Gilbert

Supervisor Jack Sellers, District 1, and I had a great time in Gilbert participating in Gilbert’s Chamber of Commerce Good Government Series. We discussed a wide variety of topics including economic development, water, transportation, housing, and public safety.


Good Government Collage

As reasonable capitalists, or at the very least not communists, we hope for a government that is reasonably limited. We prefer that government doesn’t unduly hurt the business climate, as unreasonable red tape and bureaucratic nightmares are readily available one state to the west for those who want it. For the most part, Arizona has been a beacon of reasonably limited government, so we were perplexed and disappointed with this recent development.

It was recently reported that the city of Phoenix, through Sky Harbor airport, is attempting to make life very difficult for the Arizona Coyotes in their proposed move to Tempe. Indeed, not unlike a dark money group attempting to defeat a candidate who dares stand in the way of their interests, they have executed on a widespread mailer campaign to homes in the area full of scare tactics regarding the purported need to change flight routes and introduce airplane noise to neighborhoods if the plans go forward.

This isn’t the first time that the city has decided to wield Sky Harbor as a weapon to further its interests. Perhaps some of you will remember when they decided to levy punitive fees on rideshare companies while reducing fees for taxis in what could only be interpreted as a sweetheart deal designed to help the taxi industry. But while the purpose for that government overreach was clear, it is less clear as to what has created these sour grapes.

Never mind that the proposed entertainment complex doesn’t include gigantic skyscrapers that would divert traffic. Nevermind that there are plenty of other tall-ish buildings, entertainment areas and the like at a relatively similar distance to the proposed site that have created no issues for the airport in the city of Phoenix. This certainly has the smell of a pure power play, of government bullies getting in the way of serious progress.

In response, Mayor Corey Woods released this statement; well written, dignified, and indicative of why the voters of Tempe trusted him to lead them. While we generally have been supportive of leadership in the city of Phoenix save a particular bomb-throwing councilman, it feels like Tempe leadership is acting like the adult in the room as opposed to the little brother position that they have often had compared to their big sister to the west.

We are not sure why Phoenix is doing this; we can speculate about jealousy, about lost tax revenue, about personality conflicts, about competition…but it is purely speculation. Regardless of the reason, Phoenix needs to drop the sour grapes immediately, stop getting in the way of progress and focus on making their own city more amenable to private enterprise. This is a bad look for them.

Photo Credit: Arianna Grainey

There once was a woman in England that had this nickname.  It’s appropriate for Scottsdale City Councilwoman Linda Milhaven too.  Next month will be the first time in 12 years the dais will not benefit from her determination, grit and smarts.  Term limits are the culprit.

Milhaven is the type of person every City Council needs.  Learned.  Unafraid.

She has been an indefatigable proponent for the arts. And development. Some don’t like the latter. But does any body benefit from groupthink?  She is a macroist when others tend to the micro.

Milhaven has a compass that damns the stormiest of seas. Despite the torrent of opposition to the Desert Discovery Center – a project we adamantly opposed – there she stood, defending her position, not giving an inch.

People like that are rare in politics these days. They can be admired in agreement, and disagreement.   Milhaven is McCainesque in that regard.

We live in a time when different points of view can blind accolade. Where emotional graffiti doesn’t allow us to see a beautiful portrait.

Not us.

Quite simply, Linda Milhaven will leave Scottsdale a better place for her service.  What a wonderful testament to our own Iron Lady.

We don’t typically focus too much on business moves on this blog, as there is so much in the local space of politics and culture. Besides, corporate battles rarely become public or are blatantly obvious in the public eye at the local level.

Every once in a while, a move comes by that is such an undeniable power move to our community that it demands mentioning though. This particular move had all the hallmarks of Shaquille (or “Shaqtus”) O’Neil posted up in the paint and swatting an opponent’s attempt at a lay-up into the third row of attendees however. Enter HonorHealth.

Banner Health had intended to purchase a plot of land in north Scottsdale near Loop 101 and Hayden as a location to place a hospital. As the 800 lb gorilla of the non-profit hospital industry in the southwest, with nearly $8 billion in annual revenue and over 50,000 employees (and strong local ties, seeing as how they’re headquartered in Phoenix), it seemed like a slam dunk for them to enter the Scottsdale market with their first hospital there.

HonorHealth said “Not so fast” however; it had territory to protect! After all, with numerous facilities in the city, they did not want to give up their turf so easily, so what followed was a legitimate bidding war for the parcel of state land.  The CEO of HonorHealth just kept pushing the price up until the CFO of Banner said “No mas” and gave up, leaving HonorHealth with an extremely highly priced plot of land that will likely yield a questionable ROI but with turf intact.

Considering the status of Scottsdale as being a premier place to retire, having a dominant position in this particular market in this particular city is of serious value. And ultimately, there is the old school bully mentality that nearly everyone’s parents told them at some point in time as children: if you don’t stand up to the bully, they’ll keep pushing you around.

Rarely has corporate strategy come into the forefront in such an obvious and delightfully intriguing way such as a public auction, and even more rarely does it impact our little slice of heaven like this will. We only wish we could have seen it in person. Congratulations to HonorHealth; you may have overpaid, but you made an important statement in the process.

I know that on occasion that I can be a broken record about the need for more development, that building more will alleviate our pressing housing crisis and benefit so many. We have also been somewhat dismayed at the Scottsdale City Council’s recent inclination to get in the way of good developments moving forward; we coined the term “the Council of No” as a way to demonstrate our dismay.

However, one recent vote truly turned our heads and made us think that perhaps something changed. We couldn’t help but pour over this 4-3 vote in the Scottsdale City Council to green-light the proposed Optima North project in north Scottsdale. The strangest part? Notoriously growth-hesitant Mayor Dave Ortega and Councilman Tom Durham joined the yes votes.

And we have to ask: what the heck is going on here? Has hell frozen over? Are election year decisions coming a bit early?

We only say this because this seems like just the sort of project that Ortega specifically would be saying no to: lots of height and significant density. 1,330 units would be considered incredibly large for this Council, and 118 feet tall buildings have rarely made it through this iteration. Railing against those two aspects of development were core aspects of Ortega’s campaign, after all..

So what changed? Why is he now a yes vote when he has consistently been against similar projects since he was elected Mayor? We can’t consider this a strategic, low-impact Yes vote that would have no influence on the project, considering the small margin of victory for the project. Has the tide finally turned, right after we had expected Council to take a hard turn towards an anti-development ethos?

It may be possible that the project had enough merits to convince Ortega and Durham. After all, Ortega is well known as a fan of mixed-use developments, and this is certainly a well thought out development. But so were numerous others that didn’t pass through the gauntlet of the Council of No..

We very much welcome this new development but can’t help but look at it with a bit of cynicism. Perhaps it is time to start greasing the re-election wheels early, or at least soften up potential future opposition. Whatever the reason, it’s a good start, and while we have serious doubts we do hope it’s the first Yes out of many over the next two years.

The culture of an area can be absolutely critical to its development; some areas are dependent on government to attempt to create solutions, and some areas foster innovation and in the process create budding leaders. One young man in the Valley is demonstrating precisely why the second option is the preferable one by far, and so we just had to share this story..

Check out this story about Cooper Weissman, a 17 year old who is running two businesses which he started himself; he has been creating and running his own businesses since eighth grade. One of them is a logistics company and the other a blockchain company. He has even hired a few of his classmates as interns.

While the entire story is impressive, perhaps even most telling is the attitude of this young man. ““I started businesses my whole life, pretty much all of them have failed,” he said. Any entrepreneur knows that you absolutely will fail many times, but it’s not about how many times you fall, it’s about how many times you get back up.

In a world of instant gratification, where many of his classmates are no doubt hoping to have a career as an influencer and adding absolutely no societal value as a result, Cooper understands the long game, about building skill sets and knowing that not everything will be easy. Those are the sorts of traits that are needed to succeed in this world, not the ability to do a cute dance and use the right hashtags in an attempt to get attention.

But more than that, we look at this story as a reason to be thankful that we live in a country like the United States and a state that looks kindly to innovation like Arizona. Many countries are so steeped in bureaucracy that simply the process of starting your own business is such an onerous pain that it is more lucrative to simply get a government job and coast through your career.

So any time you read a story about red tape harming businesses, or socialism harming the entrepreneurial spirit, perhaps you should keep Cooper in mind. It is helpful to know that the best intentions of capitalism can still be found, and that as much as you may feel inclined to rant about “kids these days”, great examples of what’s possible will continue to shine.

The pandemic uprooted many institutions, and while the various levels of government stepped up in an unprecedented way some entities got a little too comfortable with that financial support. The Paradise Valley Unified School District governing board showed their hand recently; that seemed to be precisely what happened with them this year, and they are now facing the consequences.

In a blockbuster of a story, the board recently had to explain to a packed audience of concerned parents why there was a $14 million shortfall for the upcoming school year and how they would whittle away at it. Apparently this resulted from an inability to effectively plan for a time without COVID-related government assistance; more damning was the fact that this assistance came from the state government, not the federal largesse, and as such a reasonable person should have assumed that it would not last longer than it was absolutely needed.

So far the proposed resolutions for bring the budget into compliance involve cutting days off of employees’ time, but even then they estimate that that will only carve around $4 million from the deficit. Other proposed solutions tend to be a bit more controversial, such as cutting back on social emotional learning and various behavioral specialists.

Could this happen elsewhere? It’s certainly possible, but this seems to be more the result of an egregious oversight and poor planning. This is even more shocking considering that the board is composed of some experienced and intelligent people, and we would certainly expect more out of them. At the risk of sounding like we are relying on old political stereotypes, this seems to be the sort of trap that more liberal school districts would fall into, with the expectation of additional funding opening the door for various pet projects (ones that may assist with re-election) and the hope that things will work themselves out afterward.

Considering the recent election, it would not be hard to believe that this scenario could have happened elsewhere. While we cannot expect that from more conservative districts who at least tout the virtue of living within their financial means, re-election prospects have a way of changing people. That said, this scenario again shows the merit of keeping up-to-date on what’s going on in your local government. If more people asked more questions sooner rather than after it became an issue, perhaps this could have been avoided.

By Alexander Lomax

All things told, this election was extremely positive for Democrats in Maricopa County. Despite her campaign’s best efforts to lose, Katie Hobbs kept Trump-wannabe Kari Lake out of the Governor’s seat, and Adrian Fontes kept unhinged conspiracy theorist and otherwise unhireable former Kalamazoo cop Mark Finchem away from our elections. And even though State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman lost her re-election campaign, she prevailed by two points over Tom Horne in Maricopa County.

But despite the outperformance by Dems within the county, there was one major, glaring failure: Julie Gunnigle. While nearly all Dems won Maricopa Co., Gunnigle lost by 6 points to Rachel Mitchell in their race to be Maricopa County Attorney. She underperformed Kris Mayes, her statewide counterpart, by 8 points in the county.

So what gives? Why was Julie Gunnigle this year’s David Garcia, i.e. a tire fire failure of a campaign?

None of this should have been a surprise. Besides, as this blog has spoken about before, Gunnigle’s campaign manager was Bruce Franks Jr., a battle rapper turned state rep who was pressured into resigning from the Missouri state legislature after duping his campaign donors and using their donations for all sorts of personal wants including a trip to the casino. To think that someone with such a sketchy background who had lived in Arizona for barely a year and had no background in campaign management would be the right person to lead such a difficult and nuanced campaign was simply ridiculous and emblematic of the dumpster fire that was to come.

Perhaps the more overarching problem which coalesces other concerns is that this campaign was stuck in 2020. The murder of George Floyd galvanized much of a nation as to the need for police reform, or defunding as per the more leftist elements (which Gunnigle regrettably dabbled in). We all remember the protests and the passion, and the message was heard; such egregious actions from law enforcement seem to be mostly a thing of the past (for now).

But for the areas where protests went on, that success eventually played second fiddle to and even helped manifest larger issues. Areas such as Seattle, San Francisco and Portland had “mostly peaceful” protests that consistently turned violent, or at least strongly anarchistic. The human void left by boarded up businesses and dying population centers caused by said anarchy has been partially filled with homeless living in tents and fentanyl abuse. The positive and constructive turned into negative and destructive in a way that has persisted.

The Gunnigle campaign never picked up on this though. They were stuck in the America of 2020, oblivious to the fact that the page had turned and that her form of “restorative justice” and “criminal justice reform” was starting to grow old even in the bluest parts of America, when addiction and its affiliated crime is showing to be a much larger threat to minorities than law enforcement. That messaging had turned radioactive.

However, this seems to play into a larger issue with Democrats in Maricopa County; to be frank, racial politics. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, Democrats everywhere have gotten significant pressure from black activists to hire their own in executive positions lest they be considered “anti-black”. Certainly this played a gigantic role in Gunnigle’s decision to hire someone with social media savvy but little experience and even less ethical turpitude, and that same dynamic is playing out elsewhere in party politics.

Aside from the obvious concerns resulting from white guilt or fear of being called racist determining executive decisions, it is worth mentioning that the black community makes up about 6.5% of the population in the county, compared to the 32% share of Latinos in Maricopa County. Meanwhile, Republicans are having Latino outreach committees and events and are waking up from their Arpaio race-baiting slumber. They understand numbers, but Democrats are led by emotions. As Democrats continue to say that one race’s lives matter more than another, the Latino community will continue to leak over to the GOP side and threaten to make this election look like an anomaly for Democrats.

The numbers won this election, as they always do. Democrats would be best served by not being led by guilt or emotion and instead taking a hard look at their demographics and consider if they are truly listening to at least 51% of the voting population (and preferably much more).

As the dust settles on this election, conclusions and general punditry are coming out of everywhere and anywhere. Shoot, we even did so regarding what we believe Arizonans told us about the statewide candidate campaigns. But no one is talking about the various propositions that Arizonans also voted on, so we’re here for you on that subject.

1. A Little Less “Power to the People”

There were three ballot propositions related to ballot propositions themselves; after all, they are frequently the bane of those currently in power (how dare the electorate not trust their elected officials to do what’s in their best interest!), and attempts to reign in this power is an evergreen attempt from the legislature come election time. This time, it was a mixed bag, but moved the axis of power slightly away from the electorate.

First the most obvious and egregious power grab from the legislature, Prop 128, which would allow Arizona state lawmakers to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives if any portion has been struck down by the state or U.S. Supreme Court. While constitutionality is important, with what is very clearly a stacked state Supreme Court that portion made it a significant attempt at a power play by the GOP. It went down in flames, 64-36.

Props 129 and 132 had more positive fates however. 129 requires a single subject in the title line for citizen initiatives, and it passed 55-45. More damningly, Prop 132 mandates that any proposition that includes a tax of any sort must pass with a 60% vote, essentially a poison pill. It squeaked by, 51-49.

So the electorate decided to take some power away from themselves voluntarily. Apparently they trust the government more…curious.

2. Decency and Wisdom Largely Won Out

We were very pleased to see a few big wins for decency and sanity in the proposition votes. One, Prop 211 was the biggest winner of the night; Terry Goddard’s passion project that recruited prominent Republicans and Independents regarding more transparency in dark money election spending won big, 72-28. Indeed, it was the top vote setter of 2022. Proposition 209 which puts more limits on medical debt collection, both interest rates and exemptions on what can be repossessed to pay for it, won with a similar margin. Lastly, Prop 308, the “Dreamers” proposition that allows for in-state tuition for undocumented students who have been in Arizona for a while also passed, albeit with a very narrow 51-49 margin.

Regardless of how you felt about the winning candidates from the election, these are some common sense propositions grounded in decency and good policy, and we are glad that they passed.

3. A Big Change to Elections, but No Change to Elections?

Yes, that is awkwardly phrased. But two election-based issues came to the voters, leading to one big change and one non-change.

Due to Prop 131, you will now be voting for a gubernatorial slate, as the 55-45 passage will set the stage for a Lieutenant Governor to be elected alongside the Governor, serving as a Vice President to a state’s President. This means that the Secretary of State will no longer be the Governor’s backup and is a system implemented in many other states. In a state that likes to split tickets, it will be an adjustment from an overdue one.

However, voters also shot down more purported election protections; Prop 309 would have necessitated a photo ID instead of two non-photo IDs when voting in person, and would have required mailed in ballots to include the voter’s birthdate as well as an identifying ID number, such as the last four of their social security number of their driver’s license number. Privacy concerns seemed to sink it, albeit in a close way, with a 51-49 loss. That said, since it seemed to be more of a way of attempting to solve a non-existent issue, perhaps it’s for the best.

From Councilwoman Solange Whitehead

As of writing on Wednesday night, there are STILL a few votes trickling in and waiting to be counted. In what would likely be the single tightest election for Arizona state races in our state’s history (and if we’re wrong, please show us where), there is almost certainly one race that is going in for a recount, and perhaps two. So even though we do not have complete and definitive outcomes, there are still a few pieces of info that we can glean from what just happened to our dear state.

1. Trump is Dead Weight to the Republican Party

Much has been said nationally about the loss of “Trumpy” candidates, but Arizona may have been the brightest of spotlights for both the rapid ascent of those who jumped on the Trump Train as well as the rapid decline. None was as pronounced as the media personality who was expert at getting earned media while dissing the media, who eschewed traditional politics in the name of going against the political grain. That, of course, is Kari Lake, so well formed in his likeness that a Trump/Lake ticket was already being widely talked about. In what would have been a slam dunk win for Karrin Taylor-Robson after what could VERY politely be called a timid and uninspiring candidacy from Katie Hobbs, the door was wide open for a Republican win. Bombast without experience wasn’t enough to win over the McCain Republicans though, especially not after insulting John McCain.

Few kissed the ring as hard as Mark Finchem, who was actually in DC for January 6th. No race epitomized Trump’s desire to disseminate his “stop the steal” dishonesty far and wide. While Adrian Fontes has made his fair share of enemies on the left, few could say that he wasn’t better prepared for the job than Finchem, and many saw the risk of giving the Head of Elections job to someone whose allegiance seemed to be more with a former President (and future candidate) than the Arizona people.

Blake Masters and Abe Hamedeh both seemed to be relatively Trump-adjacent, in that they said and did what they needed to in order to get the endorsement. All of that was enough for the nod, but not enough to win. And while Masters, checkered background and all, offered the potential to win his race, Trump’s endorsement of Hamedeh was truly head-scratching. A very young man with very little legal experience and little leadership experience vaulting to the top of the race because of a strong family Rolodex and an endorsement instead of being most viable. Trump could have rode a winner, but instead he perplexingly put his money on an underdog and might lose as a result.

Lastly, perhaps the biggest loser: Kelli Ward. The AZ Republican Chairwoman will not be running for re-election, so her legacy is now one of kissing Trump’s butt, having her records subpoenaed, and then losing the state bigly. Yikes.


2. The Quality of Independent Expenditures Matters

As always, there was quite a bit of outside money that came in looking to impact our elections, and while some seemed to largely cancel each other out, there are a couple examples that we think stand out about how to do it and how not to do it. What’s effective and what’s not.

First, for the effective…the massive haul brought in in favor of Adrian Fontes and against Mark Finchem. First of all, the list of different independent expenditure groups was truly impressive, meaning that there was much less risk of one group with poor marketing taking up all the airwaves with mediocrity. Moreover, it seemed as though they generally all stayed to a very common theme and subthemes: about protecting our democracy, how Mark Finchem will be a danger to it and how Adrian Fontes will fight for it. In a race that is as narrow in scope as SoS, it’s perhaps easier for this than other races. They did not fall into traps and stayed focused however.

But we can compare that to the Corporation Commission race; in a race typically dominated by Republicans getting gigantic IE support from Pinnacle West (APS’s parent company), it was the Dems who got major IE support this time. Sandra Kennedy and Lauren Kuby got about $1.5 million in support between them. However, dominating these expenditures, outside of a very last second bailout attempt for Kennedy by a group named “Arizonans for Lower Energy Bills” (creative name, y’all), was the group Chispa, a local wing of the League of Conservative Voters. They consistently spend a lot of money in the Corporation Commission races for Dems, and a large amount of their expenditures seemed to be Spanish-language communications about how Kennedy and Kuby would fight for clean energy. While the Republicans got de minimis IE support and they were all on even fundraising footing due to the Clean Elections system, the GOP candidates finished #1 and #2. Chispa’s spending was at best pointless, and perhaps gave a false sense of security to the candidates.

3. What’s the Point of Being an Incumbent if You Won’t Tout What You’ve Done?

Easily one of the most head-scratching performances this cycle was that of Kathy Hoffman. While education turned into more of a flashpoint subject in the last few years for the Republicans than it was during her shocking win in 2018, the Republicans didn’t truly capitalize; instead they voted in a man with a laundry list of ethical and legal issues in his past, a man who could stand up to Joe Biden in a geriatric anti-charisma contest, Tom Horne. But Tom Horne can fundraise, and he did so in this race, bringing in nearly one million total. That said, Horne spent most of that to get through his primary, leaving Hoffman with a significant financial edge after the primary when she received her second Clean Elections check.
However, it’s how she used it that’s so perplexing. As an incumbent, she had four long years to build her resume of accomplishments for this moment: to tout what she’s done in order to make the case to re-elect her and let her finish the job. Along with name ID and fundraising, it’s one of the main benefits about being an incumbent.

Yet when reviewing all of her digital ads on Facebook, Instagram, Google and YouTube…every single one of them in the final 6 weeks of the campaign was vaguely negative, inviting people to learn about Tom Horne at “therealtomhorne.com”. ZERO mention of what she’s done, ZERO mention of what she will do, just hoping that people want to find out about the “real Tom Horne”. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t.
Her campaign had success attacking David Schapira in the 2018 primary, so perhaps that is what she snapped back to. That is poor political consulting and instincts though; while it is always fair game to bring up salient points about your opponent’s ethics, if it’s coming from the campaign as opposed to an IE it should ALWAYS be paired with how you’re better. People want to vote FOR somebody; she had $180K worth of dedicated general election money to tell voters why they should vote for her, and yet she chose not to. In such a close race, that likely made the difference.

A Democrat running for Treasurer is always a campaign of quixotism, but this Superintendent race was the real unforced error on the part of Dems in an otherwise surprisingly positive election.

4. What We Haven’t Learned Yet: Will the AG Make Hobbs’s Life Hell?

As of now, the AG race is still too close to call. We are loathe to comment too much as a result, but perhaps the person who should be paying the most attention is Katie Hobbs. If Abe Hamedeh wins, he could hypothetically make her term rather difficult with an extra level of legal scrutiny on every single thing she does, every appointee she makes, or could essentially work as the legal arm of the GOP legislative majorities. Obviously, a Mayes win will mean much smoother sailing for Hobbs.

While the Governor’s race and the Secretary of State race are rightfully placed at #1 and #2 of importance in Arizona, a lot of people will be sweating the likely recount in the Attorney General’s race, and for good reason.

At the time of writing this on Sunday night, not every race is completely certain at this point. One thing that is for certain however is that the best case scenario for Republicans did not work out, and we see that playing out in some of the Scottsdale area races rather prominently.

As a reminder, the city of Scottsdale is covered within three different legislative districts: district 8, which is heavily Democratic and encompasses the southern end of the city, slightly right-leaning district 4, which covers Paradise Valley along with parts of central Phoenix, and heavily-Republican district 3, which covers central and northern Scottsdale. You can find our preview of these races here.

Some races turned out precisely how we imagined. For instance, we were confident that John Kavanagh would have no issues in the district 3 Senate race, and he is currently up 63% to 37% over Democrat Thomas Dugger. Juan Mendez, the Democrat in the district 8 Senate race, holds nearly the exact same margin of victory over Republican Roxana Holzapfel.

In those same two districts, the House races were similarly uninteresting. More so was in district 3, where Republicans Joseph Chaplik and Alexander Kolodin had no Democratic challenger for either of the two seats. While there was a Republican “single shot” challenger in the district 8 House races, Caden Darrow was no match for Democrats Melody Hernandez and Athena Salman.

One thing we learned however is that District 4 is indeed a legitimate swing district. Even though it holds a small Republican voter registration, in the battle between incumbent Senators, Democrat Christine Marsh is currently ahead by 2,262 votes (51.0 to 49.0%) against Republican Nancy Barto. Barring a sharp turnaround (which could be possibly depending on the makeup of existing votes), it looks as though Marsh may head back to the Capitol. This would be considered at least a moderate surprise and a real win for Democrats.

In the district 4 House, Democrats used the “single shot” strategy of running one candidate for two seats, a method that the LD 28 Democrats in the same area perfected previously. They will indeed be successful again, with Democrat Laura Terech all but assured of heading to the legislature along with Republican Matt Gress. Former Republican legislator Maria Syms sits 2.24% (or nearly 5,750 votes) behind Terech for second place.

So what can we glean from all of this? It’s quite simple: central and north Scottsdale has stayed conservative and south Scottsdale has stayed (relatively) liberal. But Paradise Valley has remained within the political parameters of the former legislative district 28: truly purple. Get ready for another decade full of very, VERY expensive legislative races as both parts scratch and claw for the majority.

While the eyes of most tuned-in voters have largely been transfixed towards the more big ticket races such as those for Governor and the US Senate, it is worth noting that there were a few important Scottsdale-area races for which we currently have clarification for.

For starters, regular readers and those who pay attention to Scottsdale city politics know that there was one active city council seat to fill after Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead got enough votes in the primary to avoid a run-off. As we somewhat expected, Barry Graham easily outdueled Pamela Carter with a 16 percentage point lead at the time of writing.

A few things to note with this race: one, the more development-friendy voice of Linda Milhaven is now being substituted for what some would call a more growth-hesitant voice of Barry Graham as the council and the tone and tenor of the electorate slides further towards the NIMBY side.

Secondly, while this race was one Republican running versus another Republican, it also had the dynamic of being one between a much more establishment Republican in Graham and one much more in the Trump wing of the party in Carter. Much like other “Trumpy” candidates around the country, Carter found out that there is a somewhat limited appetite for that style of candidate this year.

Also, voters were voting in two new members for the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board; you can get a brief run-down of the candidates here. At only around an 800 vote gap between #2 and #3 as of writing, this could still change by the time all votes are counted. However, as it stands right now conservative Amy Carney would be moving forward along with liberal Robb Vaules. What does that tell us? Well assuming that these standings hold, it could imply that perhaps Scottsdale isn’t as hard-right as we sometimes confuse them for. That our city desires some degree of balance in that regard.

Lastly, there was the question about raising the cap that schools can spend in a year to an amount that’s tied to the level from 1980 tied to inflation plus 10%. This is the same antiquated rule that has plagued the entire state and hasn’t yet been resolved at the statewide level except for a one year reprieve.. While this vote was seen more as providing an option to spend more with a large inflow of spendable funds as opposed to setting the stage for more consistent spending, it is passing by only a small margin. Perhaps this implies that while Scottsdale is getting a bit less socially conservative, overspending will always be on its mind.

By Vernon Parker

I proudly served a Mayor of Paradise Valley and was humbled to make history as the first African American to hold that office. This election, Arizona has an opportunity to make history and reign in dark money or anonymous political spending by voting yes on Proposition 211, Voters’ Right to Know Act.

After serving as Mayor of Paradise Valley, I wanted to continue serving Arizona as a member of the Corporation Commission. I found myself in the crosshairs of a dark money campaign in 2014.

The attacks on me and my character were brutal, false, vicious, and launched from the shadows. It took its toll. But I lived to fight another day.

Five years later APS’ parent company Pinnacle West admitted to giving $12.9 million to 16 different political groups. More than $10 million went to groups that contributed to the Corporation Commission elections in 2014.  I felt a degree of vindication but the implications of what happened were troubling.

The Corporation Commission regulates APS which explains why the utility used Arizona’s lax laws on anonymous political spending to hide what they were doing.

My story is far from unique. How many times have we seen outrageous campaign commercials paid for by groups using equally outrageous committee names? If we don’t know who cut the check, how do we know the motivation behind the ad?

Dark Money spending has only gotten worse since I entered politics and the problem will get worse if dark money groups are able to run and hide. Real transparency in election spending will never happen if some are able to spend from the shadows, just like APS did years ago.

Let’s be clear, I have nothing against political spending, as long as it is done in the light of day. Those who contribute to political campaigns, and report the spending, are often motivated by the greater good.  Those who deliberately hide their political spending are generally motivated by their own self-interest.

I am a lifelong Republican. I served in the Bush ’41 and Bush ‘43 administrations. In supporting Proposition 211 I am gladly joining my good friend and lifelong Democrat Terry Goddard. That’s because this issue crosses party lines. Indeed, recent polling shows it has overwhelming public support across the political spectrum. That’s because dark money hurts Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. More importantly, it damages the political process.

What happened in the Corporation Commission races in 2014 was shameful, but it doesn’t have to keep happening. Please join me in voting yes on Proposition 211 and put the power of the political process where it belongs, with those who cast the votes not those who cut the checks from the shadows.


Photo Credit: azcentral.com

In today’s political climate, where social media algorithms seem to turn everything into an us vs them, with us or against us dynamic. It is increasingly difficult to work across the aisle without your own eating you alive and primarying you. So when denizens of each political wing come together in support of a common cause, it is worth noting.

One of those such instances is happening right now with Proposition 308. For those who are unaware, Prop 308 will be on your ballot this fall, and it will give “Dreamers” the ability to have the same rights when it comes to education as many of their documented colleagues. It is a common sense proposition based on decency and fairness, keeping aside the supposed “sins” of parents and allowing children not to be permanently painted by them.

Therefore we were elated to read this recent story, where progressive Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and conservative Mesa Mayor John Giles have come together in support of Prop 308. And leaving aside the more extreme elements of today’s Republican Party, where illegal immigration is the grievest of all ills, it makes all the sense in the world.

Why is this? First, let’s talk about Arizona’s brand. When it comes to recruiting large employers to our state to set up shop and bringing hundreds or thousands of jobs with them, hardline nativist policies don’t work. Quite the opposite, they turn off much of a highly educated and well trained workforce that doesn’t want to come to a state with extreme policies (see also: total abortion bans). While seniors are reliable voters and are most in favor of those sorts of policies, a young workforce (i.e. the type that make our country run) are not.

Two, it’s about the workforce. Employers want educated labor pools, and to leave off a large segment of the population and denying them that education to help them rise up and advance simply limits the headcount of our educated workforce.

Lastly, it’s simply the decent thing to do. Your average person does not feel it right to punish children for what their parents have done, and polls reflect this. In North Korea, they will jail entire families when one member escapes and defects to a different country. It should be an extremely uncontroversial statement to say that we should not follow North Korean policies.

Often it takes a certain degree of common sense, certain policies and ideas that are so very correct for their time, to bring together the polar opposites. Prop 308 is one of those, and we hope that Arizona voters will also see what the cooler heads of the ends of the political spectrum can clearly see: that Proposition 308 deserves your Yes vote.

Matt Gress. Photo Credit: Phoenix Business Journal

In the last few days we have broken down the all-important Q3 campaign finance reports for both statewide and federal races here in Arizona. Now for our final breakdown we consider the local legislative races that will impact our Scottsdale residents, as a number of candidates look to represent our city in the State Capitol.

First, we will look at the new Legislative District 3 which covers much of north Scottsdale and further north, into Fountain Hills. We regret to inform you that these will be very boring races. John Kavanagh is currently unopposed for the LD3 Senate seat, and the only competitors for Joseph Chaplik and Alexander Kolodin for both LD3 House seats are write-in candidates who do not have a prayer. The primaries determined the general election outcomes, so we will not bother with campaign finance results as there is no need for them to raise or spend money at this time.

The new LD4, covering central Scottsdale into Phoenix, is a very different situation however. It currently has a very expensive and contentious Senate race between incumbents Nancy Barto and Christine Marsh, brought into the same race by redistricting. Nancy Barto has raised $307K to date and sits with $94K cash-on-hand (CoH). More interestingly perhaps is that $268K in independent expenditure (IE) dollars have been spent against her, with only $41K in her favor. Statewide Democratic interests see this as a critically important race and are spending as such.

Running against her is Christine Marsh, who as Senator of the previous District 28 is no stranger to high dollar campaigns. She has raised $359K to date and sits with an impressive $151K CoH. Since it appears that she did not switch over her campaign to the new district in the campaign finance portal, it is difficult to see the IE money that has been spent for and against her this cycle, but it is fair to say that it is probably significant in both directions.

Lastly, the LD4 House race, where the Democrats are utilizing a single-shot strategy, running one candidate for two seats in the hope to pick off one in a right-leaning district. Democratic candidate Laura Terech is running for that one seat, and she has held her own, raising $124K along with substantial funds transferred from her previous campaign. She sits with $82K CoH and has had $66K in IE funds benefitting her.

Matt Gress and Maria Syms are the two Republican candidates, and Matt Gress has been a fundraising machine, with $429K raised to date and $310K in IE support as opposed to $68K against him. Meanwhile, Syms has had very muted fundraising, bringing in only $86K but retaining an impressive $64K of those funds.

District 4 remains one of the more interesting districts in the state, with two Senate incumbents facing off and a single-shot candidate who could pick off either Republican. While Barto seems to have the registration advantage for the Senate, any of the three House candidates could be looking for their next career path in November.

By Barry Graham

As we mentioned yesterday, the all-important Q3 campaign finance reports recently came out for all political races, and it provides us a crucial final window into each campaign’s relative strength and opportunity for success. Yesterday we covered the statewide races, and today we look at the most important federal races in Arizona.

First, the biggest race of them all, the race to be on of the two US Senators from the state of Arizona. First, we start with incumbent Mark Kelly, who has been an unmitigated machine when it comes to fundraising. For his campaign to date, he has raised an incredible $75.5 million. He still has a cash-on-hand (CoH) buffer of  $13.2 million which will be difficult to spend at this point with all TV spots scheduled. He could instead hold onto a good portion of it and use it to wield additional power in the Senate upon (likely) re-election.

Next is Kelly’s nemesis this election, Blake Masters. While being a close associate to tech billionaire Peter Thiel gave off the early impression that Masters might be able to compete when it comes to fundraising, relatively poor polling against Kelly likely had the impact of drying up some of the spigots. He has raised $8 million to date, a number that simply won’t cut it in a competitive US Senate race, and also took loans of $1 million to bolster his coffers. He currently has a relatively puny $2.8 million CoH.

Now we hop over to the new 1st Congressional District, covering much of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Incumbent David Schweikert has long been a relatively poor fundraiser, and while this cycle a spark was clearly lit under him, his numbers aren’t eye-popping for an incumbent. He has raised $1.2 million with an additional $460K in transfers and loans to feed his coffers, and stands with $245K CoH. Democratic challenger Jevin Hodge is actually in a better situation: while he has raised $1 million with a  $10K transfer, he sits with a strong CoH advantage with $439K in the bank. He’ll need every penny to knock off the incumbent.

Lastly we go to the only other “purple” district in the Valley, the new CD-4. Incumbent Greg Stanton has been a fundraising machine, bringing in $3.8 million to date and has  just under $2 million CoH. Challenger Kelly Cooper simply has not been able to keep up, raising $590K and needing to loan the campaign $1.35 million. She has $254K CoH but still has an outstanding loan of $719K. It seems clear that Stanton will cruise to re-election, and Cooper will have a very expensive lesson learned.

While one of these races should be relatively competitive, as David Schweikert’s runs for re-election sometimes are, the real lesson is the difficulty in ousting incumbents, and how funding will often dry up if the donor class doesn’t see polling results they like. No one wants to invest in a sinking ship after all.

We are in the final stretch for political campaigns, and the extremely important Q3 campaign finance reports were just released. These will give us our final peer into the financial capacities of campaigns before early ballots are mailed out, so we looked into the most critical statewide races to see how the candidates are doing.

First, we start with the Governor’s race. Kari Lake has run a non-traditional campaign (pre-Trump non-traditional at least) and has eschewed more normalized ways of fundraising and spending in favor of earned media and organic social media mobilization, and her fundraising has reflected that. To date she raised $3.55 million in this last reporting period but still maintains a robust, $1.5 million cash-on-hand (CoH). While independent expenditure groups (IEs) have spent $1.9 million to help her, they have also spent $3.6 million to defeat her.

Katie Hobbs boasts relatively similar but better numbers, which would be one of the rare instances that a Democratic candidate for Governor has outraised their Republican counterpart: raised $4.7 million this past quarter and has $1.7 million CoH. More tellingly is the IE battle, as she has had $1.4 million in IE support but a menacing $6.1 million in IE spend against her, mostly thanks to the Republican Governor’s Association.

Now onto the Secretary of State race, where like the Governor’s race the candidates are relatively similar in terms of CoH, but the IEs tell a different story. Mark Finchem raised $592K last quarter and still has $385K CoH. That said, while his IE support has been negligible, he does have a daunting $2.35 million in IE spend against him. Meanwhile, Adrian Fontes has excellent fundraising prowess recently with $1.7 million raised in Q3 and has $746K CoH. IE spending has been much more muted, with $428K of spending in favor of him and, $58K against.

Lastly, we will address the Attorney General’s race, where again the Democrat has outraised the Republican in the final stretch. Abe Hamadeh raised $730K last quarter and sits with $418K CoH. IE spending has been relatively balanced, with  $860K spent to benefit him and $760K to defeat him. Meanwhile, Kris Mayes had a blockbuster quarter with $1.2 million raised and enters the last stretch with $447K CoH. However the IE spending is incredibly unbalanced, as while a meager $46K was spent to help her,, $1.4 million has been spent to defeat her.

These numbers reflect the new reality in Arizona politics: that statewide races will be real contests and will likely go down to the very wire. With little TV commercial inventory available and repeated mailers and digital ads having marginal benefit, candidates will have a challenge in fighting through the noise and making impactful final pitches.

By Councilwoman Solange Whitehead

2022 Scrum

Data Orbital is pleased to announce the results of its latest statewide, mixed mode survey of likely Republican primary election voters. The survey was conducted from July 18th to July 20th.

The survey tested all Republican candidates whose names will appear on the ballot for Governor in the upcoming August 2nd Republican primary.

With mail-in ballots already being returned, Kari Lake shows a commanding 11-point lead over Karrin Taylor Robson. Lake is pulling away from the field as a poll conducted by Data Orbital earlier in July showed Lake only 4 points ahead of Taylor Robson.

Pollster George Khalaf had this to say about the latest results, “With nearly 250,000 Republican ballots returned, it is clear Kari Lake has maintained – and grown – her lead in the Gubernatorial race. We have seen the Undecided rate steadily drop from 28% in late June to 12%, with a little more than a week until Election Day. With what we are seeing in our polling, and every other public poll released on the Governor’s race, one thing is clear: Kari Lake is on her way to securing the Republican nomination.”


This poll of 550 likely primary election voters was conducted through a combination of live survey and text to web that collected 32.4% of the results from live caller landlines, 34.2% from live caller cell phones, and 33.4% from text to web. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.26% with a 95% confidence interval. Respondents were weighted on a number of different demographic figures based on prior primary election voter turnout figures. The poll was conducted from July 18 – July 20, 2022. All non-released questions would not reasonably be expected to influence responses to all released questions. The questions released are verbatim from the survey provided to respondents. Toplines and demographic data can be found here. Crosstabs for this survey can be found here.


The election for Scottsdale City Council is underway, and, as a candidate, I am committed to keeping Scottsdale prosperous and one of the lowest-taxed cities in the valley. 

I want this for you and for my own family. While collecting signatures to place my name on the ballot, the message I heard from residents became clear.  Voters love the amenities and quality of life in Scottsdale and they want a City Council that will encourage a vibrant city economy that pays for all the wonderful city services they enjoy.  With increasing inflation rates today, assuring that our city finances are healthy is more important than ever before.

I am a government finance professional; and, as a public finance and municipal lawyer representing cities and towns in Arizona and other states, I help them make deals that increase economic prosperity for their residents.  Additionally, since I served over ten years on the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Scottsdale Industrial Development Authority, I have put my knowledge and experience to work already for the economic benefit of the city. I’ve also served as a Pro Tem Judge in Maricopa County Superior Court.

I am running to keep your city taxes low, your property values high, and to reduce city debt while ensuring Scottsdale continues to have the best in class amenities and municipal services we have come to expect.  I will make long-term decisions to ensure the health of our magnificent desert preserve and parks, our outstanding police and fire services, our tourism industry, and our world-class dining, commercial and retail services.

We live in tough times. We are coming out of a major global pandemic, but now we are facing runaway inflation and rising interest rates.  Now more than ever we need someone on the City Council with my municipal finance experience and focus. We cannot turn to short-sighted and costly thinking that results in economic decline. There is no goal more resident-friendly than shifting the Council’s focus to keeping local property and sales taxes low and property values high.

The inflation we are facing will impact senior citizens and those on fixed incomes the most, and we must work hard to assure that our most vulnerable city residents can prosper as well.  We can do this by making sure we continue to foster increased economic activity that generates city revenues, working to assure that we have an adequate housing supply, spending taxpayer dollars wisely, and maintaining a fiscally conservative city budget.

I look forward to sharing my goals for my work as a councilman and thoughts on a wide array of issues over the coming weeks. Please contact me on my website at strattonforscottsdale.com.

I am here to listen to you.

By Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner

Dear Fellow Paradise Valley Resident:

I’m pleased to have the support of all the past Mayors of Paradise Valley who are active in Town affairs. Today, I am honored to share a recent video in support of my re-election from our dear friends and long-time Paradise Valley residents and public servants, former Paradise Valley Mayor Ed Lowry and former Paradise Valley First Lady Patsy Lowry:

Lowry Video

In the video, Ed says the following:

“I think Mayor Jerry has done a fabulous job of coalescing a lot of different ideas, people and personalities into a team that works well together. It doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree with each other. It does mean though that everyone has to listen to each other, respect each other and work together for the betterment of the town.”

I would like to thank Ed and Patsy for their kind words, as well as former Paradise Valley mayors LeMarr, Winkler, Parker, Clarke, Wick and others for supporting my campaign.

I hope you will join them and many other former Town leaders and residents in voting to re-elect Jerry Bien-Willner as Mayor in the August 2 election.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your mayor.

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