By Tim Peeler
Taylor Swift was in town this past weekend to kick off her new tour with two shows at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Getting a Taylor Swift-sized event to come to a city is almost always a major plus for that city. It generates buzz, and boosts the local economy thanks to increased spending on restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. But that wasn’t enough for Glendale Mayor Jerry P. Weiers. He saw an opportunity to personally capitalize even further on the event and he took it. I don’t know if I can blame him for shooting his shot, but I can roll my eyes at the way he chose to go about it.
On March 13th Mayor Weiers issued a proclamation addressed to Swifties (Taylor Swift fans), littered with her lyrics, declaring that for the weekend (March 17-19) Glendale would be renamed to “Swift City”. Did Mayor Weiers create additional buzz with his little PR stunt? Absolutely. Would I have heard about Taylor Swift coming to town if it wasn’t for the ‘Swift City’ name change? Almost certainly not.
But does any of this matter? Does creating all of this extra noise really benefit Glendale economically or in any other way, especially when the shows were always going to be sold-out regardless of what else happened? Are non-concert goers really making their way out to Glendale because of Swift City?
Instead of an effort to benefit the city, what the ‘Swift City’ name change really was, was a painfully obvious attempt to pander to young voters by someone who is up for re-election in August 2024. Additionally as a Republican, many young voters stand across the political aisle from Weiers and maybe he thought this would be an easy way to win some of those votes.
I think that you could you argue that the hours that the Mayor and his team spent working on the ‘Swift City’ name change, drafting the proclamation, working with Taylor Swift’s team, etc. was a waste of time and could have been better spent working on something actually important for the city, but I don’t know that those five wasted hours or so warrants torches and pitchforks.
Gimmicks are a part of most political campaigns; hopefully they are funded with political campaign coffers instead of taxpayer funds, although the actual cost to the taxpayer was likely minimal on this one. But the Mayor so obviously attempting to placate and appeal to a voter base that otherwise has probably no interest in him just comes off as disingenuous and cheap. I would prefer that he focused on making Glendale a better city instead of trying to garner attention through transparent gimmicks.