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Scottsdale mayoral candidates talk the No. 1 issue facing the community — and what they intended to do about it

Photo of Scottsdale Mayoral Candidates
From left are Lisa Borowsky, David Ortega, and Linda Milhaven — all of whom are in pursuit of the mayor’s seat this election cycle. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)

Scottsdale mayoral candidates discuss local news that matters

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Scottsdale voters next month will take to the polls to decide from a field of three candidates who will be elected as the next mayor of Scottsdale meanwhile residents will also decide from a field of nine candidates for three open positions at Scottsdale City Council.

Scottsdale is hosting a primary election 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 general election will be held to decide those races, election officials say.

In the race for mayor of Scottsdale, there are three candidates: Lisa Borowsky, David Ortega (incumbent) and Linda Milhaven.

The Digital Free Press reached out to each Scottsdale mayoral candidate to offer readers a better understanding of what these candidates think is the No. 1 threat to quality of life in Scottsdale and what they will do about it, if elected.

Furthermore, each candidate was asked how they would work collaboratively with fellow elected leaders and what they think is the best thing about being elected to the top figurehead position in ‘The West’s Most Western Town.’

This is what they had to say:

Of Note: each candidate responded to each question in a timely manner.

Linda Milhaven
Scottsdale Mayoral Candidate: Linda Milhaven

*What is the No. 1 problem facing City Hall and how did this problem emerge in your opinion? 

There are several important issues. Water and traffic top the list and they intersect with concern about zoning and development. As we look at development, we must be concerned about the impact that new development will have on our neighborhoods, our water supplies and our roads. We are in a drought and development, any development, brings more traffic.  

*If elected, what will you do to cure this issue?

As mayor, I will consider the relative impacts of different uses and only support projects that benefit the community and provide needed infrastructure and resources to support themselves.  

The mayor and council only get involved when property owners want to change their zoning.  In most cases, owners are asking to add residential uses to existing commercial zoning districts to create mixed use projects. In these cases, I take a broad view and consider the relative impacts of the existing zoning, the requested zoning and alternative zoning on our community, especially on our neighborhoods, our water and traffic. More intense uses must be limited to existing commercial and employment centers so as not to intrude on single family neighborhoods.  

Some residents express particular concern about rezoning for apartments. I have never, nor would I ever, approve rezoning single family neighborhoods to allow multifamily housing.  

As we look at the impact of relative uses, in some cases, apartments use less water than the existing allowed use. Apartments might also create fewer car trips than other uses. Consider a doctor’s office with staff and patients coming and going all day to a similarly sized apartment with two people who might travel to work. Potentially, apartments use less water and create fewer car trips than existing uses.  

In addition, as mayor, I would insist that new construction employ newer water saving technologies and look to developers to purchase water from other sources, if needed.    

In short, as mayor, I would insure that new development respects property rights, doesn’t intrude on single family neighborhoods and minimizes water use and traffic created.  

*As a Scottsdale resident, how will you work toward common goals atop the local dais to ensure the exceptional quality of life?

As mayor, I will insure that we have the financial resources to maintain what we have and to continue to make investments in our community.  I will work to find ways to unite us by insuring that everyone is heard and all points of view are considered.  I will ask questions and listen to understand what is most important to residents about our quality of life.  

At the core of most issues, we usually agree that what we want is the best Scottsdale we can be.  Sometimes, we differ on how to do that.  When we move conversations forward with respect and integrity we learn what each of us are caring about and we have a better chance of finding common ground and solutions.  

*What do think is the best reason to be mayor of Scottsdale?

The best reason for me to be mayor is my proven experience as a public servant and as a successful business person. I understand the city’s financials and know how to control spending. My private sector experience helps our business community thrive and contribute to our tax base. I understand the importance of keeping taxes low and our quality of life high in order to maintain strong home values. I listen, I collaborate and communicate to find common sense solutions. As mayor, I bring unparalleled experience, service and expertise to Scottsdale.

David Ortega
Scottsdale Mayoral Candidate: David Ortega

*What is the No. 1 problem facing City Hall and how did this problem emerge in your opinion?

Short-term rentals. Our homeowner rights of “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness” have been trampled by the Arizona Legislature and former Gov. Ducey who preempted our Constitutional right as a municipal corporation to zone the separation of commercial STR hotels and residences. Under the guise of unbridled free enterprise, Scottsdale now has over 4,000 short-term rentals and several thousand more held by investors. We have documented six years of crime, noise problems, housing shortages and disruption of our lives.

*If elected, what will you do to cure this issue?

In 2020, I pledged to fight the short-term rental invasion, and upon taking office, I led the counter action. I testified at the legislature, appointed a citizen STR Task Force and in 2022, the legislature responded by remanding to cities the authority to register, report sex predators, require public safety and sanitation, and fine violators.

Recently, the legislature enacted laws to force accessory dwelling units and more STRs into our neighborhoods! Basically, single-family-lot zoning is no more, and our quality of life is under attack.

There are only two means of recourse: 1) A citizen- driven initiative to restore local control; or 2) legal class action. Scottsdale and other cities must defend our very essence.

*As a Scottsdale resident, how will you work toward common goals atop the local dais to ensure the exceptional quality of life?

Scottsdale has shaped me as an involved parent, Little League coach, business owner, family man and church and community volunteer.

Scottsdale is the most desirable city for our designed amenities and the No. 1 place for jobs in the USA because of resident involvement. I have lived in Scottsdale for 46 years and served 23 years as a commissioner for the state of Arizona, at Maricopa County and as councilman, DRB Member and mayor. Every resident and stakeholder and each council member have a point of view and I help them to carry forward their issue.

As the presiding officer, I manage meetings, per state statutes, which requires that council business stick to the posted agenda. Together we can have informative, efficient and accountable city government.

*What do think is the best reason to be mayor of Scottsdale?

I love serving my city.

Much has been accomplished in my first term and more to do in the second. I am the only architect-mayor and elected independent in the USA. As a full-time mayor, I use my professional expertise to oversee the build-out of Bond 2019 projects, and city/private sector partnerships such as the Museum of the West expansion, the Roundhouse at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, and many essential water and infrastructure projects.

Lisa Borowsky
Scottsdale Mayoral Candidate: Lisa Borowsky

*What is the No. 1 problem facing City Hall and how did this problem emerge in your opinion?

The lack of leadership and vision are the biggest problems at City Hall. The council appears to be a rudderless ship, floating from idea to idea, many of which have caused outrage with the residents they were elected to serve. Whether it be the thousands of additional high-density units approved over the past 3.5 years, the road narrowing (diets) projects, the homeless hotels, the persistently over-budget spending, or the recent sustainability plan debacle, citizens are fed up. We have a disconnected citizenry as the result of an out of touch council.

*If elected, what will you do to cure this issue?

As mayor, I will work to restore meaningful citizen engagement. One way to accomplish this is to have direct appointments on city boards and commissions who are accountable to a specific elected member of the council and, in turn, to the constituents.

Working together with residents, and my council colleagues, my focus will be on identifying strategic plans to tackle our most pressing issues, including how to restore and foster high quality projects, advance economic development and continue to improve upon our city’s resources, such as a beautification program for Old Town.

*As a Scottsdale resident, how will you work toward common goals atop the local dais to ensure the exceptional quality of life?

Same answer as above.

*What do think is the best reason to be mayor of Scottsdale?

The ability to influence and protect the future of Scottsdale.

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