Scottsdale City Council Candidate Contrast

Yesterday’s Scottsdale Republic included a “My Turn” column from city council candidate Eric Luoma. Today’s edition includes a column from candidate Chris Schaffner.

I’ll ignore for the moment the clear, amateurish bias exhibited by running Republic-endorsed Luoma’s column on the last day of early voting and Schaffner’s on the day after early voting ends. Instead, I want to focus on the candidates’ own words.

Because you can’t get to the My Turn columns through AZ Central, I’ve transcribed them both below.

First, Luoma.

As you know from my previous article on him, I’m not a Luoma fan. He’s a nice guy, but I trust him with Scottsdale’s future about as much as I trust Rick Kidder at the Chamber of Commerce…which is to say, not as far as I can throw him.

Luoma’s musings on “leadership and vision” are like a vegetarian hamburger: There’s simply no meat. I used the word “pablum” to describe candidates in an earlier article. As you can see from this Wikipedia definition of the term, it’s a completely appropriate descriptor in more ways than the most obvious:

Pablum is a processed cereal for infants originally marketed by the Mead Johnson Company in 1931. The trademarked name is a contracted form of the Latin word pabulum, meaning “foodstuff”, which had long been used in botany and medicine to refer to nutrition, or substances of which the nutritive elements are passively absorbed. The aspect of passivity had already given a negative connotation to metaphorical uses of the word pabulum, and the marketing of Pablum influenced the usage to refer to something bland, mushy, unappetizing, or infantile, and thus (paradoxically) with little worthwhile content.

As was observed in a conversation with a political friend yesterday, Luoma stretches to craft an erstwhile endorsement by the legendary former mayor of Scottsdale, Herb Drinkwater. However, as my friend wisely pointed out, perhaps Drinkwater’s greatest legacy was the translation of Scottsdale citizens’ vision represented in the CityShape 2020 effort into the masterful 2001 Scottsdale General Plan.

Never in his column does Luoma even mention the General Plan and the vision it represents. He says he wants to, “…make sure the citizens are listened to…,” but he completely disregards the thousands of hours of work those citizens put into expressing themselves through City Shape 2020 and the 2001 General Plan.

Further, Luoma has demonstrated the complete vacuousness of his comments by never having been involved in anything even remotely related to these efforts. He’s never advocated for a neighborhood. He’s never worked for the residents on any issues of substance. I doubt he’s ever even read the 2001 General Plan. The sum total of his “community involvement” appears to be social clubs and business networking (into which I’d lump the Scottsdale Fire and EMS advisory committee he has bragged about).

Now for Schaffner.

Let me first say that Chris and I don’t always agree. However, over the past couple of years, I have worked with Chris on several neighborhood issues. Chris brings to the table a solid understanding of constitutional concepts, fiscally conservative principles, and practical fairness.

Chris also studies issues and the attendant policies and laws to an extraordinary depth, so much so that he has at times embarrassed the city’s legal staff. Chris works hard when he’s asked for help, and he goes out of his way to help even before he’s asked.

Read Chris’s column and you’ll see a guy who’s trying to do the right thing because it needs to be done, as opposed to someone who’s trying to advance himself and his quest for status. In short, I trust Chris with one of the things I consider most important: The character and sustainability of the community where my family and I have chosen to invest our lives.

Tuesday’s election isn’t a race between Schaffner and Luoma. It’s about six people running for three seats. After a few months of campaigning together, I know all the candidates fairly well. I don’t think Luoma is necessarily representative of running mates Korte and Klapp (though the Scottsdale Republic seems to think so). However, I think Chris’s perspectives and motivations are very representative of Guy Phillips and Joanne “Copper” Phillips.

Here are Luoma’s and Schaffner’s “My Turn” columns for you to compare.

Eric Luoma: A Good Leader Will Listen To Everyone’s Ideas

I felt compelled to write this My Turn column to share my feelings and thoughts on the subject of leader­ship and vision. When I chose to throw my hat in the ring and run for Scotts­dale City Council, little did I know that 10 months of running a campaign would introduce me to so many new faces and perspectives of how our city “should” be run and the incredible insight that history gives us.

A Valley native, I have lived in Scottsdale for over 40 years. I chose to remain in Scottsdale after many flirta­tions with the five other communities of which my business is a part. Scotts­dale is my home; it is the place I met my wife and where my two sons were born.

This city is where as a young boy I worked in our family flower shop that doubled as the northernmost post office in the early ’70s. This is the same town where I met our busi­ness neighbor, Herb Drinkwater, another local business owner and a Scottsdale City Council member. Herb always seemed to have a knack for getting all three sides in a discussion — yours, mine and ours — to come together and move the dialogue forward. Herb lis­tened and acted.

I will listen as well. Finding the best solutions for our city — our entire city — is more important than being right.

In our complex community, with as many differences as there are flora in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Pre­serve, there are a refreshingly large number of similarities — we just need to come together with strong leaders to work on this great puzzle of a commu­nity and continue forward progress. A thoughtful leader will see things from the other person’s perspective, not just his or her own. And they will never try to bully somebody into seeing things in a different way.

I won’t take it personally if we don’t agree on an idea; let’s just agree that bold ideas are the starting point for creating a legacy for Scottsdale. Herb told me to listen to my neighbors and implored me to give back to the com­munity that has given so much to me.

He encouraged me to run for City Council when the time was right. That time is now.

When Nov. 6 has come and gone and another election year has passed, I hope that we can all appreciate the hard work that has gone into the campaigns for our City Council, put our heads and hands together, and get to work on mak­ing sure that Scottsdale stays on course. And above all else, we ensure that the citizens are listened to and that we act as one.

Chris Schaffner: As councilman, your vision is my vision

I am running for Scottsdale City Council. I grew up in Scottsdale. I am a private person who greatly prefers conversation to presentation, but if you please, let me do my best to lay out why I think you would be served well to have me on our City Council.

First, I have a track record of de­fending residents’ rights and interests that predates my candidacy. This in­cludes standing with the residents when the city wanted to re-stripe a resi­dential street to create bar parking right in front of folks’ homes down­town. I also worked with the residents of a Pinnacle Peak neighborhood to prevent the city from allowing the in­stallation of ugly (and ordinance-pro­hibited) new monopoles outside of their windows.

I assisted the residents of Windgate when the city and a developer ignored a development agreement pro­tecting their home values and quality of life. You can be assured I will be in tune with the citizens’ wishes. I have long been on the city’s notification list.

This means I get a ton of postcards every day on items under consid­eration. I learn what they are about, reach out to affected resi­dents and get involved where necessary. This also means I am a regular at public hearings and community outreach meetings.

A great example of how this keeps me in sync with the community is the recent General Plan update. I wit­nessed firsthand the process. It was clear that the residents were being left out and were unhappy with what was being created in spite of their ex­pressed wishes. I publicly and clearly stated this concern to the council, not­ing the voters were likely to reject it.

The council majority, which has a histo­ry of being disconnected from the pub­lic, approved it anyway. Scottsdale voters decidedly refused it at the ballot a few months later.

I will be dedicated to seeing your vision for the city implemented. I will continue to attend public outreach meetings, HOA meetings, PTA meet­ings, etc. and keep an open-door policy.

So, I will be able to ensure the next General Plan update contains your vision and direction before it comes to the council.

I have extensive professional experi­ence in negotiating five-, six- and sev­en- figure sales and contracts in a busi­ness- to-business environment. I am comfortable and versed in making high-stakes, high-impact decisions.

The importance of livability to Scottsdale is something I believe in deeply. Livability drives our greatest industry, tourism, and is the primary draw for most residents and business­es. We must protect and enhance that livability.

Finally, the voters, not out-of-town­ers tied to special interests, finance my campaign. You can be sure I will repre­sent you.

My endorsements include the Coali­tion of Greater Scottsdale, Keep Scotts­dale Special, POSA, Councilwoman Marg Nelssen, Councilman Bob Little­field and many others.

I am running to bring our city gov­ernment back to you. I believe my track record proves my sincerity and capability. I respectfully ask you to vote for me, Chris Schaffner, on Tues­day.

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