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Scottsdale race for City Council boils down to Graham vs Carter this November

Pamela Carter and Barry Graham.
(File Photos/
Candidates respond to key questions as Scottsdale City Hall debate is set.
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

There are two candidates — Pamela Carter and Barry Graham — seeking one elected position on Scottsdale City Council at the Tuesday, Nov. 8, general election.

To get into the political position, both Ms. Carter and Mr. Graham emerged from a field of seven candidates whereas at the Scottsdale primary election earlier this month both incumbents on the ballot, Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead, were elected outright.

The Arizona Digital Free Press is hosting a moderated debate between Scottsdale City Council candidates Pamela Carter and Barry Graham from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

The forum will focus on key issues facing the municipality and where these candidates stand on those issues. The live debate will provide an opportunity for Scottsdale voters one last glimpse into who could fill the last renaming seat atop City Council.

The Arizona Digital Free Press reached out to both candidates asking identical questions to better understand how they view “The West’s Most Western Town,” what hurdles to future prosperity exist and why they think they have emerged as front-runners for the final elected position at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

Photo of Scottsdale Candidate Pamela Carter
Pamela Carter

Scottsdale candidate: Pamela Carter

This is what Ms. Carter had to say:

•Why do you think you emerged as a front-runner in the Scottsdale primary election?

As I have been out on the campaign trail, I have spoken to hundreds of voters across this city. As a native of Arizona, a former business and homeowner here, they agreed with me on the issues. They do not like the changes they have seen in Scottsdale. Many times, with tears, they asked me to please stop the urbanization of their suburban city and the overcrowding of their neighborhoods. People want Scottsdale to remain the same city they moved here to enjoy with their families.

•Has the politics of local government changed?

I think politics are the same at the city, state and federal levels. It seems to have become more divisive in our local municipalities with growth and development and the concern for safer streets and congestion. Many are sharing their concerns about high-rise high-density, apartments encroaching on our city and the uptick in traffic.

•What are you trying to accomplish as an elected leader in Scottsdale?

I will address any destruction of our historic and serene way of life, protect open land spaces especially the Sonoran Mountain Preserve and tourism in Old Town. Our way of life here is being threatened by building too many apartment complexes and urbanizing our unique city.

Our residents are concerned about safety in our neighborhoods. I will vote on the council to fully staff our police and first responders to enforce current ordinances on short-term rentals and crime.

•What has spurred this spirited run to local election office?

I know what owning a business in Scottsdale entails. I have been very concerned about the drugs and human trafficking invading our borders that has come into Scottsdale. The congestion on our streets and the uptick in over development is affecting local business owners. They have asked me to do what I can on the council to promote tourism and protect their businesses. I will continue to promote, preserve and protect Scottsdale’s Old Town and the surrounding areas of our unique city.

•What do you think is the No. 1 issue facing the city of Scottsdale?

The most important issue, I believe, are the people, relationships and the families who live in Scottsdale. My biggest joy has been to get to know it’s people, what they think about the issues like overdevelopment, traffic and safety. They want their children to grow up in stable open spaces, safe streets and schools. I will work on the council to maintain Scottsdale’s community and unique heritage for future generations.

Photo of Scottsdale candidate Barry Graham
Barry Graham

Scottsdale candidate: Barry Graham

•Why do you think you emerged as a front-runner in the Scottsdale primary election?

Because Councilmembers Littlefield and Whitehead were elected outright and I received the most votes of the non-incumbent candidates, voters sent the message that experience matters. They trust people who will protect our city’s character and residents’ quality of life.

Over the past 10 years, I served on the Planning Commission and chaired both the Transportation Commission and Building Advisory Board of Appeals. I studied and voted on the city’s most critical issues—and, above all, respected resident input. Voters agreed with me that it’s important to encourage quality development and sensible growth that reflects residents’ values and our city’s unique brand.

•Has the politics of local government changed?

I have served on city boards and commissions and been involved with Scottsdale city government for more than a decade — longer than even some current councilmembers. I promised voters I would run a positive, fact-based campaign, which I have. Although the politics of local government has evolved, I believe staying positive can help reduce community tensions, decrease political polarization, and restore a more congenial balance between various viewpoints.

•What are you trying to accomplish as an elected leader in Scottsdale?

I would like to help restore greater trust in the City Council by giving residents more say in Scottsdale’s future. Many residents have told me that their ideas and input are being ignored. I believe that increasing resident input will improve the decision-making process and generate more support for solutions to many of the city’s most critical problems.

•What has spurred this spirited run to local election office?

One aspect of the spiritedness of this election season is that voters have been let down in the past by some candidates. We’ve seen some candidates promise one thing during their campaign, then do another once elected. Voters want to elect people who say what they mean — and be able to trust what they say. That’s why during my Residents First campaign I have reminded voters that actions speak louder than words and to look at my 10-year voting record on boards and commissions of respecting citizen input.

•What do you think is the No. 1 issue facing the city of Scottsdale?

I see three critical issues facing our city.

First, literally thousands of residents I’ve spoken with have shared their concern about runaway development. They want more say about Scottsdale’s pace of growth, the quality of development and protecting Scottsdale’s character.

Second, short-term rentals are menacing many of our neighborhoods. Out-of-state investors are scooping up precious housing and converting it into unstaffed mini hotels. We need to enforce the ordinances we control and press the legislature to return more control to Scottsdale.

Third, we need to protect our precious water resources. In light of current drought conditions, it’s unfair to ask residents to reduce their water consumption in order to make way for thousands of more housing units.

A picturesque view of the Sister Cities of Scottsdale commemorative installation just to the side of the Kiva Auditorium at City Hall. (Photo: Arianna Grainey/
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