Mayor Turning Campaign Into A Game of Hide And Go Seek

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This Voice of Scottsdale email was sent out 11 July.

In the rough and tumble days when Arizona was still a territory, men often settled their differences in public.  They squared off mano-a-mano on Main Street.  Unless one of the men failed to show up.

And pity the poor fellow who tucked tail and ran from a showdown.

In the old days, the guy who didn’t show was called some pretty unflattering names – like being yellow or lily-livered.  Or the deepest cut of all … he was called a coward.

Three men are running for mayor, even though it feels like only two.  Drew Bernhardt and John Washington are challenging incumbent Jim Lane, who’s running for a second term.  But he could have fooled us.  So far Lane has failed to attend three of the five public forums.

Mayor Lane may be running for re-election – but it feels like he’s running from not against Bernhardt and Washington.  And that’s disappointing, because voters deserve better.  Especially better than the bunker-mentality campaign Lane is giving voters.

Many are wondering why the mayor has turned his campaign into a game of hide and go seek.

No one can argue that Mayor Lane doesn’t have a comfortable lead in the three-way race.  He may, in fact, be elected outright in the August 28th election and avoid a November run-off election against either Bernhardt or Washington.  But that’s no excuse for him to act like he’s enrolled in a witness protection program that harbors incumbents afraid of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It’s difficult to say how Mayor Lane is spending his nights, which is when candidate forums and debates are held so the public is able to attend. Of course there are the evening City Council meetings twice a month and the after-dark fundraising events.  But there is little explanation for what prevents Mayor Lane from showing up at events for citizens who are interested in hearing all three candidates address important issues.

The last time Mayor Lane appeared with challengers Bernhardt and Washington was on May 17th at the mayoral candidates’ forum sponsored by the Scottsdale Community Council.  Although the South Scottsdale crowd wasn’t thought to be Lane-friendly, they treated the mayor respectfully.  Even Bernhardt and Washington were reluctant to take the gloves off and gang up on Mayor Lane.

Since he squeaked into office by the narrowest of margins four years ago, Jim Lane has never fully understood what being mayor is about.  Oh, sure … Lane is less petty than he used be.  He is doing a better job of managing his anger, so he doesn’t turn match-head red nearly as often.  However, His Honor’s reputation for exacting political revenge is a work in progress.

Nevertheless, there’s still something missing.

Being mayor of Scottsdale is about more than chairing City Council meetings, giving speeches to business luncheons and conducting ribbon-cutting ceremonies.  Citizens have a set of expectations for their mayor – like being man enough to show up to debate two legitimate challengers who have qualified to be on the ballot.

When Jim Lane ran for mayor in 2008 he told voters: “We Deserve Better.  We Can Do Better.”

He still has the chance to keep his promise .

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