Three candidates for Tempe’s mayor have emerged since September: A restaurateur, a longtime city councilman and a local humanitarian.
Michael Monti, owner of Monti’s La Casa Vieja, Linda Spears, former president of the Kiwanis Club of Tempe and former Tempe City Council member and Councilman Mark Mitchell. Each of them decided to run for mayor after learning two-term Mayor Hugh Hallman would not seek reelection.
Spears said her tentative platform will focus on Tempe’s continued innovation, such as online billing for water and sewage services as well as availability of online business permit applications.
“I’m concerned about the city’s continued advancements,” Spears said, adding plans for service replacements in South Tempe will need to happen soon. These changes include updating parks and infrastructure such as roads and sewers.“People think these are just taken care of,” Spears said of the services, acknowledging local government’s duty to take care of them.
Although Monti said there is nothing wrong with Tempe, it needs someone who can handle the “crushing recession” and bring innovative ideas to the table. Monti said he is the only candidate with experience as a local business owner and therefore understands the physical and financial challenges a recession presents. ”We need to preserve Tempe’s high quality of life even when the city’s revenue is plummeting,” Monti said. He says Tempe’s economic development is the number one issue of the upcoming race. Tempe is a landlocked city, which needs to work on “getting more out of every square foot,” he said.
Mitchell, son of former U.S. House Representative and Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell, has served on the council since May 2000 and was the Vice Mayor from 2004 to 2006. According to Mitchell, it is this knowledge of local government as well as Tempe itself that sets him apart. “You can’t put a price on experience,” Mitchell said, “Simply because you’ve earned a college degree does not mean you stop learning. I’m always a student of government.” If elected, “strategic investments” will be made to cement a partnership between Tempe and its businesses as well as initiatives to connect city government and the Arizona Legislature for transit developments, Mitchell proposes.
All three candidates support Hallman’s transit initiatives with the Metro Light Rail extension and the downtown Tempe Streetcar. Mitchell took issue with the project’s funding. He said that the money available is “one-time-only” funds to build the project but not to operate it. “The money is not going to go anywhere,” he said. “We should hold on to it [until] we know how we are going to get a handle on it.”
Candidates can formally file election paperwork with Tempe starting Nov. 14. Candidates must collect between 672 and 1,342 signatures from eligible Tempe voters to be placed on the ballot.
The primary election is March 13, 2012 and the general election is May 15. Votes will elect the mayor and three City Council seats.