Back in August, the majority of the contested Scottsdale City Council seats were sealed up then and there, as both Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead secured enough votes to earn re-election and not need to head to November’s run-off. One seat remains however: Barry Graham and Pamela Carter will square off to replace Linda Milhaven. So how did we get here and how is it looking?
For starters, perhaps the most notable part of the August election was the wholesale rejection of the more pro-growth candidates in that race, as Tim Stratton, Raoul Zubia and Daniel Ishac occupied the bottom three spots and were eliminated. Both Barry Graham and Pamela Carter could both be considered “growth hesitant”, although they took very different roads to get there.
Barry Graham was a member of the Planning Commission, and as such understands the issues of zoning and development very well, even if he leaned more to the side of the “Council of No”. He was also a member of leadership in the local Republican party and as such has a strong rolodex of contacts. Pamela Carter is a complete political outsider with nearly no involvement in civic activities within the city and seems to be a member of the socially conservative wing of the party; she mentioned sex trafficking as a key issue for her campaign, which implies more “QAnon” influence than insider influence.
The money race is a crucial component of any political campaign, and this one is no different. While the last report is dated to before the primary and the next one won’t be due until October 15th, it tells the story of two candidates who left it all out on the field for the primary. Carter had merely $1,400 left in her campaign coffers as of the end of that reporting period, but Graham wasn’t too much better off with $7,700 left. That said, Graham’s deep party and city connections imply that he’ll be able to replenish those funds more effectively than Carter.
Next we can look at endorsements. Carter’s list has one very prominent name to start: Barry Goldwater Jr. As time has gone on, she has shown an ability to pull in some significant GOP names, including Charlie Kirk, Nancy Barto and Maria Syms. Graham’s list is much more Scottsdale-centric, touting endorsements from Joseph Chaplik, Betty Janik and Kathy Littlefield.
While all of these points will be rendered moot if one candidate simply executes a better strategy to woo voters, as Mayor Ortega showed us in 2020, between fundraising prowess and local connections, one must give the advantage to Graham at this point in the race.