Guest Editorial: Lessons Learned

By Scottsdale Pinetop

As many successful political campaigns know, whether it’s a candidate race or ballot measure, it isn’t just about “how to win” but also identifying how you can lose. Campaigns are all about learning from others and understanding accomplishments and mistakes when putting your best foot forward.

In just five short months Scottsdale voters will be asked to decide on the city’s growth for the next 10 years in November’s general election, something that hasn’t been done in over 20 years. Last month, the Scottsdale City Council unanimously approved the plan, known as the Scottsdale General Plan 2035, after spending over a year gathering community input and concerns. This isn’t the first time the city has tried to resolve its outdated general plan. In 2012, Scottsdale voters rejected the city’s proposal by a 2% margin.

Sounding a bit like déjà vu? That’s because it is.

Well, maybe in some respects to the successful 2019 Scottsdale bond election as it was the first major bond program to pass by Scottsdale voters in 19 years. Better known as For The Best Scottsdale campaign, the bond packaged invested in 58 projects throughout Scottsdale and totaling $319 million. The effort was passed by Scottsdale voters with an average of 70% of the vote.

So what can the Scottsdale General Plan 2035 effort learn from the For The Best Scottsdale campaign? Community engagement, trust and collaboration.

That’s what the Scottsdale bond campaign offered voters. The campaign brought together a unanimous Scottsdale City Council, notable business leaders, major city coalitions and advocates from all parts of the city. The team saw some past divisions get mended and encouraged a diversity of political views and developed emerging voices that would help make Scottsdale a better community.

Building that kind of coalition and consensus was no easy task for Scottsdale. But by focusing on the city’s need to address infrastructure improvements and investing in the community’s future outweighed the negative political rhetoric and bitterness.

That’s what many voters are looking for. A true belief in the future and success of their city for years to come.

The Scottsdale General Plan 2035 effort appears to be on the right track. And while it has all the makings to organize a successful campaign over the next few months, it would be wise for those behind the scenes to take a few notes out of the Scottsdale bond campaign’s playbook.