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Scottsdale City Council candidates talk inspiration to run, priorities if elected and thoughts on development

photo of Scottsdale City Council candidates
The city of Scottsdale is hosting a primary election on Tuesday, July 30, to elect a mayor and three members of Scottsdale City Council. (Graphic Illustration: Terrance Thornton/DigitalFreePress)
Field of 9 Scottsdale City Council candidates vie for 3 seats at City Hall this July
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Scottsdale voters will take to the polls Tuesday, July 30, as local residents will decide from a field of nine candidates to fill three seats up for election at Scottsdale City Council during the upcoming primary election.

The city of Scottsdale is hosting a primary election on Tuesday, July 30, to elect a mayor and three members of Scottsdale City Council whereas for a candidate to win outright in the July primary election they would have to receive the majority of ballots cast, election officials tell the Digital Free Press.

For races still in contention, a November general election will be held to decide those races, election officials say.

Candidates for Scottsdale City Council are:

The Digital Free Press reached out to each Scottsdale City Council candidate to ask them what inspired them to run, top priorities if elected and what they think separates them from the pack of candidates.

Furthermore, Scottsdale City Council candidates were asked how they will ensure tenets of responsible development if elected to serve at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. This is what they had to say:

Tammy Caputi
Tammy Caputi

*What has inspired you to run for Scottsdale City Council?

Over the last three-plus years I’ve had the honor and privilege of serving as your City Councilwoman. Much has been accomplished, but there’s always more to do. I’m seeking re-election to Scottsdale City Council to continue the great work that’s being done by this council. Along with my colleagues, I’ve increased job creation by 10%, kept our budget in the black, fully funded public safety, and brought our tourism back to pre-pandemic levels.

I helped pass a new voter-approved 10-year General Plan and protected our neighborhoods from short-term rentals. I’ve protected our most vulnerable —- seniors and children, improved downtown parking, improved traffic safety, and bulked up our streets with 80 new lane miles of roadway.

I have stood up from Day 1 for our kids’ education. All our residents, including our kids and working parents, deserve the best possible Scottsdale. I’m running for re-election so I can keep moving Scottsdale forward in a balanced, positive direction.

*What are your top three priorities for the city of Scottsdale?

I will continue keeping Scottsdale the Gold Standard in the Valley, by balancing open space with economic vitality. Specifically, 1) Balancing our city budget in light of the expiring (2025) preserve tax and expenditure limit challenges, 2) Carefully managing future growth and infrastructure needs, 3) Completing Bond 2019 projects. These three priorities will maintain and improve our quality of life, both for ourselves and our children.

*Thinking of responsible development, how do you hope to keep that spirit at City Hall alive if elected to the local dais?

I have a proven track record of judging each case on its own merit. I analyze each project with an open mind, good judgment, in light of context, and with an understanding of existing rules and regulations, as well as historical knowledge of city policies and processes.

Our winning formula is high amenities and open space, strong property values and low property taxes — this is maintained by a strong economy. Economic development and strong employment and tourism generate the sales tax revenue we need to be successful — less than 10% of the general fund comes from property taxes. Scottsdale’s budget is based on business activity, not bedroom activity. It’s always a balance. I have only approved exceptional development projects with meaningful community benefits. No to everything is not a vision and will quickly dry up our city budget and services.

*What do you think separates you from the pack?

We need councilors who have a thorough understanding of how the city works and historical knowledge to put decisions in context and perspective. I have a proven track record, experience as a councilor and board member, the professional relevant skill set, and a positive attitude. I’ve shown the ability to make complex decisions and work with others both inside and outside city hall. I’ve been endorsed by police and fire. I’m a 25-year resident, mother of three in our public schools, local small business owner, graduate of Wellesley College, and hold an MBA degree.

My campaign has been supported by every sector and demographic of the city. I have over 500 donors from 200 professions and 300 unique employers — professionals, entrepreneurs, students, retirees. They are the bedrock of our vibrant, forward-thinking city. Anyone can name a problem —- we need leaders who have solutions to help fix them, and the positivity to bring the community together working towards our common goal of remaining the ‘Gold Standard’ of the Valley.

*What is the No. 1 thing you want voters to know about your campaign for Scottsdale City Council?

I’ve served, and hope to continue serving, to make our city even better for our children than it’s been for me. Scottsdale is an aspirational city — let’s continue to aim high and do great things.

Steve Casares
Steve Casares

*What has inspired you to run for Scottsdale City Council?

Very simply, this is my home. I want to continue to serve. I am a native and I represent West Point as a cadet. I have my parents who are still here. People like me are seeing everyone we know having young families, I have skin in the game — this is my home. That is not a scripted response, that is from my heart.

*What are your top three priorities for the city of Scottsdale?

Per my website, I have personal initiatives and I have direct community feedback, My personal initiatives are veteran advocacy No. 1. Resource Management and that includes tangibles and intangibles with things like public safety and water. I believe water will be an important topic during this election.

My third is mental health care, which means increasing funding within our prescribed parameters. What I am hearing on the street, the big three I am hearing from residents are: over-development, crime rates and homelesnness.

*Thinking of responsible development, how do you hope to keep that spirit at City Hall alive if elected to the local dais?

There are two main things: First, I am committed to preserve the unique character Scottsdale, the one I grew up in when I first arrived in 1998.

At the same time, everyone is a stakeholder and that includes small business owners, but that also includes corporations who we need to engage with. No one wants their community to be overdeveloped, at the same time we need to think about businesses here.

In terms of legislation, if something came before me and my fellow colleagues I would look at each item judicially by reading each item line by line.

I do my due diligence. What people can expect form me is sound judgment.

*What do you think separates you from the pack?

I generally do like and respect my fellow candidates — they are cool, I like them. Sound judgment, I am thoughtful and I am disciplined. I am extremely thorough because I was a member of a team at the Pentagon providing executive briefing to the Secretary of the Army and my specialty was economics. When you are at an executive briefing you have to give great detail. And I would often prepare three hours for a five-minute brief.

I served at the Arlington National Cemetery for two years. When you are out in front of 8 million visitors and you are representing the United States — you have to be disciplined. Sound judgment and quick thinking. I bring thought and sound judgment that would make me a good member of a legislature and good member of a team.

*What is the No. 1 thing you want voters to know about your campaign for Scottsdale City Council?

This is my home. It is our home, I grew up here. I went to high school here. My friends are raising young families. My parents are still here. This is my home and I want to protect it. Please allow me to continue to serve.

Jan Dubauskas
Jan Dubauskas

*What has inspired you to run for Scottsdale City Council?

Scottsdale is an incredible city! We have the largest sporting event in the US, the largest urban park in the US, and the most advanced water treatment plant in the U.S.! It’s absolutely amazing, and we need to keep it that way.

*What are your top three priorities for the city of Scottsdale?

To keep Scottsdale the beautiful city we know and live, we must address over-development, traffic, and maintaining our high quality of life.

*Thinking of responsible development, how do you hope to keep that spirit at City Hall alive if elected to the local dais?

With 15,000 apartments approved and not yet built, we must approach development with an eye toward only considering the very best projects that are appropriate to the area.

*What do you think separates you from the pack?

As a lawyer, wife, and mom, I am the only mom in the race with young children in school. My vision for Scottsdale is to protect and preserve our city for our young children.

*What is the No. 1 thing you want voters to know about your campaign for Scottsdale City Council?

You are the boss. My resident-first approach means that I will seek and respect your input. Resident champions Kathy Littlefield and Barry Graham have endorsed my campaign because they know I will stand with them — and put you first.

Tom Durham
Tom Durham

*What has inspired you to run for Scottsdale City Council?

I was inspired to run for City Council because of my participation in the Protect Our Preserve movement. I was the treasurer of the Protect Our Preserve PAC, which was responsible for the 2018 ballot measure that stopped the construction of the Desert Discovery Center in the preserve. I am running for re-election because I am proud of the City Council’s accomplishments over the last three years and I want to continue that progress.

*What are your top three priorities for the city of Scottsdale?

My top three priorities are:

  1. Ensuring passage of the ballot measure to provide funds for maintenance of our parks and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve —- without raising taxes.
  2. Continuing the council’s work to rein in problematic short-term rentals.
  3. Continuing the full funding of police and fire, including passage of the amendment to our spending limitation so that we can give police and fire the tools they need.

*Thinking of responsible development, how do you hope to keep that spirit at City Hall alive if elected to the local dais?

On responsible development, the current council has curbed the excesses of the prior council, which approved numerous 15-story buildings. The current council has brought down height and density, and has voted to lower heights in Old Town. We have also imposed green construction codes which will reduce water consumption in new developments. When voting for new development, we have considered the context of the surrounding neighborhoods and have not approved any project which would impinge on surrounding neighborhoods. Development is important to maintain Scottsdale’s vitality, but it must maintain our character and values.

*What is the No. 1 thing you want voters to know about your campaign for Scottsdale City Council?

My three and one-half years of experience on the council are my main asset. I will be ready to serve from day one, as I am familiar with the city’s budget, tax structure, police and fire forces and personnel. We have accomplished many things on this council, such creating a new General Plan, protecting our water portfolio, creating a task force for funding of the preserve and our parks, reining in abusive short-term rentals, funding and growing our police force, and imposing green construction codes. I believe it is an impressive record.

Mason Gates
Mason Gates

*What has inspired you to run for Scottsdale City Council?

I’m running for Scottsdale City Council because I have the energy and passion to lead our constituency, while also pushing our great city in the right direction.

All the wrong people run for office. Whether it’s nepotism, self-interest, or ideology, many candidates and elected officials are very hard for the average person to relate to. I’d like to change that.

Unlike many of my peers, I know how to work. Whether it’s a record of entrepreneurship starting at 14, or dominating a market with an 80% market share acquired in a single calendar year, there is no project too big, no task too difficult. Unlike incumbent Tammy Caputi, I don’t rely on the donations of out-of-state developers and other special interests.

*What are your top three priorities for the city of Scottsdale?

My top 3 priorities for Scottsdale City Council are:

  • Inhibit over-development;
  • Mitigate traffic congestion; and
  • Combat homelessness.

*Thinking of responsible development, how do you hope to keep that spirit at City Hall alive if elected to the local dais?

Scottsdale needs to be more conscious about rubber-stamping any and all development propositions and up-zoning requests that are put before the council. The current council majority has made a habit of voting directly in line with the many special interests and developers that bankroll their campaign.

We should instead focus on preserving what we have in Scottsdale, enforce thoughtful zoning and city planning, and maintain the incredible quality of life that makes Scottsdale such an amazing place to live, visit and work.

*What do you think separates you from the pack?

Many candidates would prefer to push an agenda rooted in partisanship, special interests, or the highest bidder.

My goal is to simply place the needs and desires of residents above all. I created my “platform” based entirely off of the feedback from the thousands of residents I spoke with. Through identifying the key issues that matter to voters, we can adequately serve out community and try our best to meet the needs of all constituents.

*What is the No. 1 thing you want voters to know about your campaign for Scottsdale City Council?

Some will say I’m too young to represent our great city. James Monroe signed the Declaration of Independence at 18. Alexander Hamilton signed the Declaration of Independence at 21. And Alexander the Great conquered nearly the entire known world before his 33rd birthday.

When evaluating candidates, particularly for a municipal election, it’s important to evaluate the nature of a candidate’s character, and their ability to solve problems. As a lifelong Christian and someone who has seen success early on in life, I truly believe that I can serve Scottsdale and restore common-sense leadership.

Bob Lettieri
Bob Lettieri

*What has inspired you to run for Scottsdale City Council?

I am running for Scottsdale City Council because as a 25-year resident, I have the very same concerns as my neighbors and the people of Scottsdale have. I want to represent and respond to the concerns of the people of Scottsdale by bringing my C-Level managerial experience to our city’s government. As a Scottsdale resident I am concerned about density, traffic congestion, and rising crime.

My concern is that my quality of life will continue to deteriorate. Why? Because the current city government allows rezoning that leads to increased urbanization and allows complete disregard for our concerns about multistory apartment buildings. If urbanization has a positive economic benefit, why isn’t our tax decreasing.

*What are your top three priorities for the city of Scottsdale?

1. Traffic congestion (density);

2. Wasteful city spending; and

3. Rising crime.

*Thinking of responsible development, how do you hope to keep that spirit at City Hall alive if elected to the local dais?

Hold the line on current codes and ordinances. Doing so would significantly reduce the number of rezoning amendments that change land use, increase height and cause density, especially in proximity to single family residential neighborhoods.

Conditional zoning approvals should be the exceptions and not the rule. Conditional zoning approvals should have a practical time limit. Unless a time limit is imposed the original intent of the project can become compromised and require additional variances. The approved conditional zoning should revert to the original zoning after a specified time.

In general, I am opposed to projects that increase density. For example, I would carefully evaluate the infrastructure planning to support building on one acre vs five. This project that increases development by five times in a rural area should address the environmental impact and ensure preservation.

*What do you think separates you from the pack?

The city of Scottsdale is a large municipal corporation and has a budget of over $2 billion. As a CFO, I was responsible for the fiscal health of multiple companies throughout my career. My responsibilities included ensuring revenues and expenses stayed in balance, analyzing financial data, and attesting to the accuracy of the data.

When I am serving you on council, I will bring my skills as a CFO to analyze the budget and make recommendations for those who don’t have the experience or confidence to voice their views. I have an eye toward the future, and I am not shy about recommending strategic moves and initiatives to ensure the financial health of our city. I will be your advocate for growth and will preserve our quality of life while also bringing economic grow and sustainability to the city of Scottsdale.

Most important, you will have someone who will listen and act upon your concerns.

*What is the No. 1 thing you want voters to know about your campaign for Scottsdale City Council?

The one constant that runs through my career is developing accurate information and the integrity of the decision making when using the information. I have accumulated valuable capital markets experience over the course of my career and have guided the capital formation of early-stage technology companies through Series A and B rounds of funding from top tier VCs and private equity groups.

Along with my C-Level experience, I served on several boards of directors with committee chairman responsibility. I earned an MBA at Arizona State and was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Phoenix. I will make decisions that give taxpayers the best return. As your advocate for sensible growth and fiscal accountability, we will preserve our quality of life and Scottsdale will continue to be the jewel of the Southwest.

Maryann McAllen
Maryann McAllen

*What has inspired you to run for Scottsdale City Council?

I love my city and I have a passion to serve my community. I started my career with the city of Scottsdale in community services, and I have served throughout Scottsdale in many capacities as a leader and volunteer. Being on the inside as an employee, and externally as a resident and small business owner, I feel my perspectives will serve Scottsdale’s residents through my decision making as a city councilmember.

*What are your top three priorities for the city of Scottsdale?

Neighborhood, growth and development, and affordable housing. Along with a host of others, water, budget, preserving open space, traffic and environmental issues.

*Thinking of responsible development, how do you hope to keep that spirit at City Hall alive if elected to the local dais?

Keeping Scottsdale in a positive position for the future is my priority. We are facing many budgetary unknowns with a loss of state shared revenues, an increased homeless population, and a lack of affordable housing, not to mention a water crisis. My desire to seek realistic solutions to these issues and any others that arise will be my priority.

*What do you think separates you from the pack?

I am a hometown girl, the real deal. I love my City and I have spent my years in Scottsdale, serving Scottsdale and my community. I want all residents to feel the passion I have for our city and give back to build up their neighborhood, whether it be in the schools, little league, church or local nonprofit, and if it’s not working, then help to fix it.

*What is the No. 1 thing you want voters to know about your campaign for Scottsdale City Council?

My vision for the city is what the citizens want and vote for in our upcoming general plan. We as a city are incumbent on what the residents want. It is our job as a city to get the maximum input from all residents to deliver their vision. My hope is that it would a vibrant and inclusive community and destination for all who live, work and play in Scottsdale.

Editor’s Note: Scottsdale City Council Candidates Adam Kwasman and Justin Laos did not respond to submitted questions.

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