Mayor Ortega Earns Heat from State Legislators Over Rio Verde Foothills Water Crisis

Photo Source: City of Scottsdale YouTube channel

As you know by now, the water crisis in the Rio Verde Foothills has gotten a lot of attention with powerful parties lining up on both sides of the debate (get up to date here). Mayor David Ortega has received heat for being strongly against using Scottsdale city resources to help alleviate the crisis, and now that heat seems to be increasing.

As recently reported, members of the Arizona legislature have lined up in their support for the restoration of water to the Rio Verde Foothills. Scottsdale area Representatives Alexander Kolodin and Joseph Chaplik, Fountain Hills Senator John Kavanagh and Rep. Gail Griffin (representing the Hereford region) were in attendance, with around 150 Rio Verde residents joining them.

This was followed by Senator Kavanagh preparing to bring a bill to the state senate to address this crisis in the state capitol. Considering the Republican advantages in both the state house and senate, it seems that it would likely go to Governor Hobbs’s desk to sign or veto.

One thing that is immediately notable is that all of the legislators were Republican. This may be a concerted effort to work towards naming, shaming and ultimately defeating Mayor Ortega in the next election; Ortega was a longtime Democrat, after all. Hopefully it’s not an indicator that Democrats are simply not that interested in this crisis, although if that’s the case Tammy Caputi would be a clear exception.

If Sen. Kavanagh’s bill does make it to Hobbs’s desk, that will lead to an interesting political conundrum however. A publicly rebuking and overruling of Mayor Ortega from the Democratic Governor would be a very public shaming, one that could make him look stubborn and uncompassionate with a Democratic voting base that won’t appreciate that and could cause him to lose a few votes in next year’s re-election campaign. In what is likely to be a close race, this singular issue might be enough to tip the scales in the wrong direction for him. Her decision may be mostly forgotten soon for her, but it would be vitally important for him.

When issues jump from the municipal to the statewide level, the stakes often change. Many more eyes are going to be focused on Mayor Ortega’s decision to not help out the Rio Verde Foothills, and if Scottsdale legislators get their way this could bode poorly for his re-election campaign.