Next year will present many interesting electoral races; along with a Presidential race, Arizona will showcase what is likely to be one of the most interesting Senate races in the country, as well as all of the countywide races. But there will also be a host of local races, and for those of us in Scottsdale, the headline municipal race will be the election for mayor.
Most of you (certainly those of you who read us regularly) probably know who the main candidate will be in this race: current Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega is running for re-election. So what are his odds for winning re-election?
First, let’s look at how Ortega has done in his three years in office, and like with nearly every public official, it depends on who you ask. Some would say that his water protectionism as it relates to the Rio Verde Foothills was in the spirit of putting Scottsdale first, but if you were to ask nearly all elected officials away from the city council, they would likely express their displeasure at his approach and temperament. Some would say that the Civic Center upgrade undertaken during his term has ended up really well, some would say that it was behind schedule with a poor roll-out.
In our attempts to be as unbiased as possible, it seems to have been a mixed bag. When it comes to issues such as being extremely selective regarding development, he has lived up to his campaign promises. There have not been any true foul-ups, but not as many unequivocal wins to make re-election a given. But one thing that works to his benefit? Ortega was the only once-Democrat in the mayoral field in 2020, but you wouldn’t know it now. He has avoided pursuing a clear left-of-center agenda, which will make him more slippery and difficult to pin down in a Republican city for his opponents.
So who will he be running against? While there are no filed candidates yet, there are three names that commonly come up as usurpers: current councilmember Tammy Caputi, former councilmember Linda Milhaven, and Ortega’s former run-off opponent Lisa Borowsky..
All have significant upside and potential knocks against them. Caputi has shown very strong fundraising chops and has not shied away from positioning herself as the primary opponent to Ortega. However, she has gained the ire of many in the activist community for being pro-growth to the extent of being seen as a green light for essentially any development. The same could also be said for Milhaven, who was also firmly in the pro-growth cohort in the dais. And Borowsky, along with having the experience of her last race, may also get the support of the local Republican party.
As it stands, although all may outraise Ortega, the pro-development histories of both Caputi and Milhaven may make their path forward more difficult. It feels as though a rehash of last year’s run-off might be the path of highest likelihood.