#LocalBuzz: Q&A With Scottsdale City Councilwoman Tammy Caputi

By Scottsdale Pinetop

It’s been almost six months since Scottsdale welcomed its newly elected city council members, who all earned their seats at the Nov. 3 General Election, including Councilwoman Tammy Caputi who gathered 58,561 votes in last year’s election.

Tammy Caputi has been a Scottsdale resident and business owner for over twenty years and has three children attending local public schools. Tammy is the President and Owner of Yale Electric West, a wholesale supplier of lighting and electrical products. She’s a Fellow with the Flinn-Brown Center for Civic Leadership. She also served the last three years on the Scottsdale Development Review Board. She’s currently the Chair of SCOTT, an organization dedicated to expanding public awareness of important local issues and empowering citizens to act.

We had a chance to catch up with newly-elected Councilwoman Caputi to see how things have going being on the City Council, issues facing Scottsdale and her hopes for the city’s future.

  • Having served on the City Council for the past few months, how has the adjustment been in the new role?

Adding the responsibilities of being on City Council to a full-time job, 3 school-age kids, and existing community involvement has been a challenge, but I am enjoying every moment. It certainly helped having already served on the Development Review Board, and knowing much of the city staff and community stakeholders in advance. I love how every day has brought new and different issues to work on- there hasn’t been one dull moment for sure!

  • What are you most looking forward to being on Scottsdale City Council?

I have a voice and a seat at the table as we move our city into the future and eventually hand it off to our children. Together we will find both new and existing ways to keep Scottsdale historic, unique, competitive, forward-thinking, and an example for the rest of the Valley.

  • How do you believe we can best retain the essential character of Scottsdale and still address key issues around infrastructure, tourism, and growth?

Balance, data, and kindness.

  • Recently the City Council voted to take a second look at Scottsdale’s Old Town Character Area Plan (OTCAP) – specifically when it comes to downtown heights. What do you hope will be the result of this new review? What do you think this will mean for Scottsdale as a whole?

The OTCAP was developed carefully over many years, with input from many experts and stakeholders. To suddenly do an about-face on the successful direction our city has been going in for decades seems irresponsible and thoughtless to me. I think some amount of height and density are necessary and appropriate, and a downtown area, a growth area, is the most appropriate place for it. We say we want to save Downtown, but we are not succeeding. Many local businesses are struggling. There have been too many business closures and lots scraped to dirt. If we want to save our special shops and the character of our Old Town area and revive our downtown, we need to bring in people and activity and investment. What do the residents and tourists of tomorrow want? What is our vision for the future of Downtown? We say we want a downtown that is walkable, sustainable, affordable, and thriving year-round, not just seasonally. Our city policies should match our vision. We can’t have open space, quality developments, attainable rents, generous parking, and limited height and density everywhere- the math simply doesn’t work. Investors will have to increase rents and prices, decrease quality, or go elsewhere. I hope the council will come to this conclusion quickly and understand what’s at stake here for the success of Scottsdale as a whole.

  • Last month the council voted on its first major development project in Scottsdale – The Kimsey – which you voting in support of. Why did you ultimately decide to vote in favor of the project? How will this decision impact your vote on future development projects coming before the council?

We can’t drive away great projects that bring people and business to our downtown. The Kimsey will bring in the tax revenue that supports our Preserve, our amenities, our low property taxes, neighboring small businesses, and all the things we love about our city. We want quality growth that respects our past while moving us into the future. We want projects that have ample outreach, time for comments and improvements, and community benefit. Projects that are contextually appropriate for the neighborhood, balance the needs of all the stakeholders, and are wanted by the immediate neighbors. Kimsey was that project; it was easy to approve. Not all projects should be approved, but all projects can be improved. I approve projects one by one, after reviewing all the information available, and make the best decisions I can for each one- my past decisions do not determine my future ones.

  • Public engagement and community input was a top priority for you throughout your campaign. How will you continue to communicate and connect with your constituents? Have you found this to be challenging while in office?

I spend a portion of each day communicating with constituents through email, on the phone, or just recently meeting in person. I have put a large emphasis on maintaining a robust social media presence. I send regular updates to constituents via Mailchimp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I have not found this to be particularly challenging- I am simply continuing what I started while campaigning and keeping the momentum going. I’ve got this- I’m a marathon runner! I am also active in my kids’ schools, my temple, my business, and in other civic and business groups, so connecting with the community is something I do every day already.

  • What has been the best thing and the worst thing about serving on the City Council?

The best thing about serving on Council has been working with all the experts on staff and in our community and with the rest of the council members in preparing for voting on agenda items. Having so many resources at my disposal in order to make better, more informed decisions has been fantastic. It’s also been great getting to know the rest of the council members better, and learning how to work together to achieve the best results for the city. The worst thing has been not having a chance to conduct board and commission interviews in person.

  • What are your top priorities on Council? Do you intend to introduce new items and if so what are they?

Collaboration with the Education Community, Economic Development, and a focus on the Future are my top priorities. I have several initiatives I look forward to introducing after we pass a General Plan in November. I can’t wait to get our new Education subcommittee off the ground with our SUSD and SCC partners. I’m the only one on Council with kids still in school, and I’m passionate about the opportunities for better city\school collaboration.