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On the Record: Graham and Whitehead divulge pursuits, 2023 insights at Scottsdale City Council

Photo of Scottsdale City Council at City Hall
A view of newly elected Scottsdale City Councilman Barry Graham, top left, and newly re-elected Scottsdale Councilwoman Solange Whitehead, top right, with a perspective of City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. (File Photos/

Scottsdale City Council welcomes Mr. Graham in New Year

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

A new member of Scottsdale City Council is making preparations for his first term; meanwhile, a future counterpart at Scottsdale City Council appears to be finding her political stride — and focus for the New Year.

On the heels of election wins — one at the August primary, the other at the November general election — both members of Scottsdale City Council are looking forward to the New Year and offer perspectives of what matters to them.

“I was proud of my campaign’s ability to connect with so many residents,” said Barry Graham, who takes his seat at City Hall this January. “During the campaign, I listened to citizens’ opinions about the pace of growth and quality of development, and also their concerns about drought, public safety and conservation.”

“In 2023, I look forward to working with other councilmembers to encourage more resident input on the city’s most critical issues. I want to ensure that projects are sustainable, resident-supported, and reflect the city’s character.”

Scottsdale Councilwoman Solange Whitehead, who will begin a fresh term next month, says the idea of conservancy is alive and well at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

“Scottsdale’s leadership in conservation is many generations long and this year has been no exception. Our City Council protected a wildlife corridor, added new parks and planted hundreds of trees, and continued a tradition of excellence with the passage of the 2021 International Green Construction, Energy Conservation, and Residential building codes, which is a big deal even by Scottsdale’s high standards.”

Councilwoman Whitehead says the “green” building codes seek to offer residents more efficient and healthy structures to dwell.

“The new building codes will deliver healthier indoor air, stringent water conservation, lower utility bills, cleaner air, and healthier people,” she said. “Transitioning to a more sustainable environment benefits the economy by creating millions of high wage trade jobs nationally —- jobs that can’t be exported and will strengthen the middle class. As with many of Scottsdale’s best ideas, the community came together on this issue.”

Moving toward higher standards for modern structures is a testament to Scottsdale conservancy, Councilwoman Whitehead points out.

“The City Council received letters of support from corporate leaders, the tourism industry, Realtors and developers, conservation groups, the American Lung Association, and many residents. Developer Irene Catsibris Clary’s Soho Scottsdale project was International Green Construction Code certified and says, ‘it really does monetarily benefit the end homebuyer.’”

Councilwoman Whitehead says from her view the new building codes are good for business.

“The passage of the codes will have a positive impact beyond Scottsdale’s borders,” she said. “I’m incredibly proud that Scottsdale is leading the way towards a healthier and more prosperous future.”

Scottsdale City Council members talk missteps, look to 2023

For Mr. Graham he admits areas where he could have done better during his successful run for City Council.

“Every candidate, myself included, had conversations with the community that they probably wish they could re-do,” he told the Scottsdale Daily Beat. “It’s best to learn from those — to never stop learning, growing, and challenging yourself.”

As Mr. Graham eyes his first term at the local dais, he says he seeks to help be a part to rebuild trust in local government.

“I will pursue resident-supported solutions that help rebuild citizen trust in local government. That includes finding consensus through respect and congeniality. When councils are divided or acrimonious, it leaves city staff without direction and residents without leadership.”

From a regulation unanimously supported at City Hall to a low registration rate following the adoption is raising the eyebrow of Councilwoman Whitehead, she says.

“This year, the City Council updated the city’s short-term rental ordinance which now requires operators to register with the city and pay a nominal $250 annual per property fee,” she said. “In passing the ordinance, we gave STR operators an opportunity to step up, take initiative, and comply. Yet with roughly three weeks until the deadline, just over 10% of the operators have registered.”

Councilwoman Whitehead contends “compliance on regulations” is a benefit to both operator and neighbor.

“The city will be able to quickly alert operators of activities that may be disruptive, dangerous, or illegal and expand compliance on other city rules pertaining to STRs,” she said.

“The registrations can help ensure operators are paying proper taxes, thereby reducing the cost burden on the general public. The data will help guide the city on best practices that can reduce friction between operators and the public. Simply put, the registration requirement will tilt the playing field in favor of the highest quality STR operators. Improving STR registration compliance is on my priority list for 2023.”

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