Scottsdale Candidates Participate in Candidate Forum: Who Nailed It?

Election season is heating up, and Scottsdale will be electing three Councilmembers to help guide the city. Our elected officials will face numerous critically important issues in their approach to leadership, and as such we were pleased to find that the Scottsdale Independent put all of the candidates on the record regarding their views of some of them. You can find the entire forum here.

For a primer on the candidates, their backgrounds, as well as their viability, we invite you to check out our detailed analysis of the race.

So what are our takeaways? As with any multi-subject forum, the answer is complex. The only consensus seemed to be that short-term rentals are a problem and that the city’s hands are mostly (but not completely) tied; a tone that was consistent with the 2020 election. Also, everyone agrees that bikes are for recreation, not for travel (as such, bike lanes won’t be a priority). Lastly, everyone likes and wants to protect the Preserve, although the question of taxation to expand or maintain it is more contentious.

A few general takeaways on the individual candidates, and we’ll start with the less savory. As we surmised in our first write-up, Pamela Carter doesn’t seem to be a serious candidate as much as someone seeking attention. Additionally, while we appreciate Kathy Littlefield’s long service to the city (even though we have often disagreed with her), we believe in having some new blood. We can’t question her integrity or love for the city, but it’s time for someone new. Lastly, while we appreciate Raoul Zubia’s deep connections and community involvement in our city, he seemed to be able to identify problems but was very short on solutions.

Daniel Ishac took a very economically-reasonable stance that may be attractive to many voters. He brought up his consulting experience related to helping businesses make decisions about where they should relocate. His understanding of how to make the business climate more attractive could be very valuable, and his stance on development was a very good one, even if his delivery sometimes sounded like a 3rd grade teacher.

Barry Graham successfully positioned himself as a true moderate, not in the Republican vs Democrat dynamic, but as a politician in general. His soft tone and anti-bombastic positions make it clear that he would not be picking fights on Council. He is not as pro-growth as we would prefer, but he clearly wouldn’t be a headline risk or otherwise embarrassing for the city.

Solange Whitehead did a good job of representing why she should be considered for re-election. While not jumping off the screen in many ways, she made it very clear what Council could do and what was out of its hands. She came off as a truly sober voice, and someone who wouldn’t make promises that she couldn’t possibly achieve; a politician who isn’t lying to your face.

Lastly, Tim Stratton also did a good job of making his case for election. He had zero problem taking a stridently pro-growth, YIMBY perspective and truly stuck out in that regard, which you know we appreciate. His command of finance and the city’s financial position would position him well to help guide the city past post-Covid funding from the government.

But the candidates with the best ideas don’t always win, and the upcoming campaign finance reports will help illustrate who is positioned to take their ideas to the electorate in a way that may lead to success. While we’re not in a position to make specific endorsements, some candidates clearly made themselves more palatable than others.