Scottsdale City Council Swearing-In Remarks: What We Learned

The Scottsdale City Council held its inauguration and swearing-in event last week, with two members (Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead) being re-elected to a second term and one (Barry Graham) being new to the council dais. Each of the members was given an opportunity to speak, and as such gave an opportunity to peer in and speculate as to how things might go.

Kathy Littlefield gave her remarks first, and they were extremely short. She gave thanks to her husband Bob for putting in the work; based on her statements, it seems as though Bob essentially was her entire campaign except for volunteers. 

Solange Whitehead was next, and along with congratulations to the other two victors, she expressed gratitude. She talked about arriving four years ago with an “energetic to-do list”. She emphasized the We, with governance being a team sport: ideas are vetted through staff, voted on, and worked on with the citizenry. She expressed positivity about accomplishments, and came off as truly collaborative.

Lastly for the newly elected was Barry Graham, who was there with his entire family and held up one of his toddlers while taking the oath. He gave thanks to “unseen and unsung help”: campaign, volunteers, donors, supporters and voters. He gave a very heartfelt thanks to wife about the demanding nature of the process and ended that with a “thanks babe”. He also encouraged people to have more say in the direction of the city.

The rest of the council was allowed to offer their thoughts as well, and there were a few differences in style and approach. For instance, Tom Durham was rather informal, calling the new members by their first names, and Betty Janik stated that she was “happy to have the return of my two buddies”. Standing in contrast was Tammy Caputi, who referred to members in more formal ways and talked about the “markedly different experiences and viewpoints” of the various members. She then stated the number of Scottsdalians, businesses and students as a way of demonstrating the scope of the city and ended with “let’s get to work”.

Lastly was Mayor David Ortega, who said he believes “local government is the most direct and responsible government we have”. He applauded the charter officers, and agreed with Barry Graham on the necessity of communication. Finally, he talked about the importance of working with federal elected officials who have the power to approve bigger projects, and spoke to the need to be a bridge to state government.

While there were no major bombshells or any viral moments, it did offer a peek into the personalities and styles of these officials, and may give some insight as to how this upcoming session will play out. It seems as though this was a brief kumbaya moment until the 2024 battle lines and furthered even more.