June 09, 2011

Downtown Voices Coalition Mayoral Debate

by: Taz Loomans


If you missed tonight’s Downtown Voices Coalition Mayoral Debate, here’s my live twitter coverage to give you an idea of what all was said:

EVERYBODY is here at tonight’s DVC mayoral debate!

Wes Gullett’s vision for Downtown: let’s take it to the next level, commercialize, get government out of the way of small business.

Jennifer Wright’s vision for Downtown: we need to look at our whole city, not just Downtown. Doesn’t believe we should invest City $ in DT.

Greg Stanton’s vision for Downtown: TIF, strong public education, adaptive reuse code, range of housing, walkability, make it a neighborhood

Peggy Neely’s vision for Downtown: it’s one part of the whole city, make it a 24/7 city, each community counts

Claude Mattox’s vision for Downtown: A strong DT makes a strong whole city, will continue to support jobs, diversification of housing

Jennifer Wright’s view on housing in DT: cities fail in redevelopment efforts, we must take away barriers for business.

Greg Stanton on DT housing: city gov has an important role in making sure we have the right mix of housing in DT. We need affordable housing

Peggy Neely on DT housing: we ought to think about mixed use. We need a vision and regulations.

Mattox on DT Housing: we need a variety of housing including mixed use, single family, dense, TOD housing. We need to attract businesses

Gullett on DT housing: we need a sense of urgency on diverse housing. Concerned with slow TOD planning. We need senior living in DT.

Jennifer Wright has never taken the light rail!

Stanton on empty lots: the city HAS a role in filling them, we need smart land use policy, city made a mistake by allowing high rise uptown

Neely on vacant lots: no more parking lots! We need a survey of DT and utilize it to bring businesses and good housing.

Mattox on vacant lots: we need a good urban planner to come to Phx. ( what about Kevin Kellogg?)

Gullett on vacant lots: over entitlements are a problem, they need an expiration date. Adaptive reuse needs to be easier.

Wright on vacant lots: expedite process on infill not just in DT but all the city. She asks who makes the vision, the plan?

Mattox to Neely: why aren’t payraises more transparent?

Neely: we need to talk about the issues as they happen not after they already happened

Gullett to Stanton: you quit the City Council when thing got tough. Will you quit again?

Stanton: I did lots of good things for our city at the AG’s office. It’s going to make me a better mayor.

To Neely: how will you make DT more walkable?

Neely: we need more shade.

Mattox on walkability: we need more small businesses in DT so we have a place to walk to.

Mattox mentioned #phxdowntowner!

Gullet on walkability: downtown form code has a plan for that. But how are we going to pay for it? Cut costs or give incentives to business

Wright on walkability: shade is good. No places to eat in DT. We need to attract businesses, city needs to get out of the way.

Stanton on walkability: make pedestrians at an equal or higher level to cars. Knocked Cityscape design in terms of walkability design!

Is dissension good for City Council? Mattox says antagonism, animosity is not good for the city.

Gullett on DiCiccio’s dissension: DiCiccio is bringing up good issues that resonate with people. City employees hate DiCiccio

Wright on DiCiccio’s dissension: Freedom of speech is important. City Council needs to be open to different povs.

Wright: mayor is set a bad example at the budget meeting yesterday

Stanton on DiCiccio’s dissension: it should never get personal, let’s keep it professional. Council members should vote their conscience

Neely on DiCiccio’s dissension: asked the mayor to apologize to the Council and to DiCiccio for cutting him out of committees

Gullett on DT bond funding: it’s been good so far. Eds and meds have driven DT development.

Gullett: next bond should be for other parts of the city besides just DT. But we need to take a break from borrowing

Wright on bond funding: we don’t need city funds for DT development. We don’t need to keep growing ASU in DT.

Stanton on city bond funding for DT: it was the right investment. Urban education (DT university) is very important.

Neely on city bond funding in DT: we start something and it never gets completely done. We’ll let the people decide.

Mattox on bond funding for DT: supported it. Should we continue it? It’s up to the citizens. People in the burbs asking where’s ours?

Wright on adaptive reuse and historic preservation: HP stifles developers. Fewer restrictions are better.

Stanton on historic preservation: HP adds value to real estate, goes hand in hand with economic development. HP works miracles!

Neely on Historic Preservation: Good examples are the Ice House and the Gold Spot

Mattox on Historic Preservation: takes exception to some of the HP rules, like window replacements.

Stanton on superblocks as a form of development: city incentives are appropriate but the city needs to have more involvement in their design

Gullett on adaptive reuse and Historic Preservation: we have to celebrate our history and our diversity. Mix of old and new is important.

Neely on superblocks: loves Cityscape, we don’t need to dictate design to developers

Mattox on superblocks: they work, but not all of DT needs to have them. We need diversity.

Gullett on superblocks: they are NOT the answer. It’s all about small businesses. (Nice!)

Wright on superblocks: city should not get involved in development. City should not pick which businesses to invest in.

Gullett on examples of the soul of Phoenix: the farm at South Mountain, Papago Park

Wright on a cool spot in Phx: Duck & Decanter, Mary Coyles, Park Central (???)

Stanton on a cool spot in Phoenix: Roosevelt Row, Heard Museum, Mrs. White’s

Neely on cool spots in Phx: the zoo, the Heard, world class park system, desert preserves

Mattox on cool spots in Phx: Phx Art Museum, Rosson House, Pueblo Grande, The Roosevelt, Lolo’s

Gullett on early childhood education: First things first is so important! But it’s been a victim of bad money management.

Wright on funding the arts and culture in Phx: not the role of the government to do that. It should be funded by private donations.

Neely on small businesses: we need to remove barriers to small biz. We need to streamline city processes for them.

Mattox on small businesses: cut back on the regulations, make DT a more friendly place for small businesses. Large biz bring more revenue.

Gullett on small businesses: we need to buy locally! We need to require banks to invest in small biz in Phx! We need a procurement code.

Wright on small businesses: we’re taxing small businesses and giving that money to big corporations.

Stanton on small businesses: we need to focus on local first! We need a procurement code. It’s the right thing for our whole economy.

Stanton: downtown is special, it needs it’s own codes. Downtown doesn’t stop at Jefferson, it goes further south

Stanton resume: local kid, passionate public transportation advocate, was a city council for 9 years, 2 years as deputy ag, served on boards

Neely resume: soccer mom, water and sewer committee, village planning committee, city council 9 years

Mattox resume: small biz owner, village planning committee for 8 yrs, trans committee, arts committee, 11 years at city council

Wright resume: native Phoenician, has worked since she was 4, on the board for Habitat for Humanity, worked at Goldwater Institute (!)

Mattox closing: values DT Phx, strong neighborhoods, good schools, career jobs, let’s look at Phx as a whole

Neely closing: hard work, your word is your bond, leave your community better than you found it, build stronger economy

Stanton closing: DT is not going to be a bunch of outsiders, the city has a strong role in education, full funding for Head Start

Wright closing: a lot needs to change so Phoenix remains viable. We are on a crash course because of overspending.

Gullett closing: we have some serious challenges and we have to work together. We have to be tough and ask why. We have to cut cost of gov

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11 Responses

  1. SuzannePhx says:

    Taz, this was so helpful! I could not attend – thanks so much for the synopsis!

  2. For Jennifer “I work downtown and have never been on the light rail” Wright, bothering to show up to this event seems to be an indication of some seriously poor time mgmt skills.

  3. Jonce says:

    Very good! Thank you for providing this as I couldn’t make this one. It appears that a few of them understand downtown PHX about as well as a Canadian real estate tycoon.

  4. Artie Vigil says:

    It is evident there is not a single candidate with a clear vision of what Phoenix should become. A vision of becoming a great city, not just a substandard suburban mess.

    Peggy Neely has no clue, “she loves cityscape”. If that is a basis of bearing for quality design then Phoenix is doomed.

    Great examples of the soul of Phoenix…. Isn’t it ironic that most of the examples noted are natural parts that surround the city. There are few neighborhoods or spaces with the quality that one would might say is world class or a great example of urban planning. Imagine taking a foreign dignitary on a tour of Phoenix. Is there a place that exemplifies the vibrancy and the soul of the city. Eight blocks of downtown Tempe and maybe a few blocks in Scottsdale are worth visiting and showing off as great examples of the city. The Heritage Museum is great, but there is really nothing around it worth walking to see. You’ll probably pass 10 people on the sidewalk on a Saturday afternoon. Phoenix needs a mayor with a vision of a great community!

    Denver is spending millions of dollars completely remodeling all of its downtown streets to be narrower, bike friendly, quality lighting, pedestrian orientated, and flexible for abundant sidewalk dining. This was all apart of a vision started by Mayor Pena, continued with mayor Webb and then added to by recent mayor Hikenlooper who asked its residents to envision a great city! This process is 20 years in the making. Within a strong mayor type of government where real change can take place.

    The notion that we should spend less and no nothing and let the market dictate what happens is nonsense. Phoenix has the ultimate capitalistic city, where developer rights supersede the greater good for the city.

    There needs to be a coherent leader who understands that in order to be a competitive city regionally and globally, a focus on creating a vibrant downtown which is diverse is imperative to be world class. Non contextual high rise office buildings, new stadiums, super blocks do not create vibrancy. In my recent visit to Madison Wisconsin, a city which doesn’t have a building that exceeds 12 floors there was more vibrancy throughout the city than on any given street or corner in Phoenix.

    There needs to be a structural change within the city government. The mayor is simply a vote and talking head with minimal power. In the 1980’s Phoenix was praised for having a council form of government, run like a large corporate company where the council is simialar to a board of directors. The mayor has no influence over any particular department. For instance, Urban Planning, he cannot hire or fire the planning director. However, in strong mayor communities like Denver, Portland, Chicago, Milwaukee…real change can be seen when a Mayor appoints department managers who lead and implement the mayors policies. For example, the latest planning and urban design director for the city Denver was Peter Park, hired by mayor Hikenlooper. The major wanted to change the zoning policy city wide towards smart growth policies and downtown focused development. Peter led the efforts to completely reform and eliminate zoning city wide and implement a form based code which focuses on quality neighborhood development, walk able communities and against suburban development strategies. This type of change nearly impossible within a city manager, council form of government. Yet,it is great if your a suburban developer because you know that change will be minimal and business as usual regardless of who is hired as mayor.

    Its interesting to hear the debate. Its quite sad to see that there isn’t a credible mayor candidate to rally around.

    What happened to Tom Simplot? Is he no longer running?

    Phoenix is interesting, I don’t see much change occurring. Outside of its small downtown boosters, the community is largely suburban in nature with conservative sensibilities who love individualism and the the separated lifestyle it affords. I can honestly see more young generation Y’ers and X’ers choosing to relocate to other cities which offer a quality choice of living where an automobile is optional. I’m not a pessimist, rather a realist. I own a residence in downtown Phoenix and have hope for a great community, but with candidates like this, its very disappointing. I almost feel like running just to change the form of government so that it allows for real vision to be implemented. Do I have the energy? No, its just easier to relocate to another community like LA, Denver, NYC, Chicago or Austin where urban LIFE already exists. I think that’s the choice that many young creative professionals are making. New leaders are going to need to have a vision and the ability to implement changes that attract the most talented and highly diverse population.

    Until that happens…its business as usual!

    • Taz Loomans says:

      Hi Artie. Thanks for your comment. It is disheartening to hear that you have lost hope in a vibrant Phoenix, although I understand where you’re coming from. I can see how from the outside there seems to be very little change happening in Phoenix. And I think you’re right, there’s very little visible change happening. But call me a romantic optimist, I do feel that there are grassroots stirrings of change. And also, with the advent of social media, there is greater opportunity for people who want urban life to actually hold our leaders more accountable than ever before. I don’t envy the next mayor very much because I feel as if those of us who want a better Phoenix will hold his/her feet to the fire. That empty campaign promises just aren’t going to cut it. Change may be slow and we may have a weak mayor system, but I think there’s still hope for Phoenix. I hope to see your Downtown Phoenix property prosper and appreciate unexpectedly in the near future…:-)

  5. […] at ASU Downtown, here’s my twitter recap of what was said.  Not much was different from the Mayoral debate last Thursday sponsored by the Downtown Voices Coalition except for the fact that Anna Brennan, a […]

  6. Kurt.Urbanist says:

    Dear Taz: you summarized Neely as closing with: hard work, your word is your bond, leave your community better than you found it, build stronger economy. Actually you must have left early because Herhonor left early aand did not close! That was her opening statement. She must have had an awully important appointment to push away from a camera. I took it as her Newt Gingrich moment-take a break just when the camera lights start to warm up-weird (and dismissive, not mayoral)behavior.

    Nice shout out for Kevin Kellogg; I agree Phoenix needs an Urban Designer and a design review process to accompany the form based code downtown. A variation of the form based code needs to be extended to each village planning core to create places not projects.

    The big winner of the night? Kimber Lanning! Each candidate underscored the need to think-buy-trade Arizona First. Its the only thread of continuity and the only consensus. So Stinkweeds is leading my informal poll of Mayoral Candidates!


    • Taz Loomans says:

      Hi Kurt, at the DVC debate Neely did stay till the end and made those closing remarks….and yes, I think Kevin Kellogg is the person Claude Mattox is looking for in an urban planner for the city. 🙂

  7. […] you’d like to learn more about the four major mayoral candidates, check out my recaps of the Downtown Voices Coalition Mayoral debate and the Phoenix Community Alliance/Downtown Phoenix Journal Mayoral debate. Also take a look at the […]

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