Councilman’s Tactic An Unfortunate Move — Scottsdale Republic
Our stand: Ortega opposes tax hike for preserve, but it reeks of gamesmanship
It’s understandable that Scottsdale City Councilman David Ortega feels as if his back is up against the wall in his race against incumbent Mayor Mary Manross.
He barely even made it into the May 18 runoff. Manross nearly garnered enough votes – 47 percent of ballots – to win reelection outright. Ortega trailed at 21 percent.
Manross was the top vote-getter in all 32 precincts, from the tip of Scottsdale to the Scottsdale-Tempe line.
So Ortega must know he faces a drubbing next month unless something dramatic happens to shake up the status quo.
This month, he announced his opposition to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve tax measure that is on the same May 18 ballot.
Although it is a predictable way to differentiate Ortega from Manross, the move is unfortunate. It rubs against the grain of Scottsdale’s values. Ortega has chosen a divisive path that reeks of political gamesmanship.
Doesn’t he have anything else to offer Scottsdale voters? Something positive?
In his critique of the preserve situation, Ortega makes several points that are right on.
One is that this interim 0.15 percent sales tax increase is not likely to generate enough money to buy all the land that Scottsdale needs to complete the preserve. And, as he says, nobody is really sure how much that total is going to be.
We also think, as Ortega apparently does, that voters deserve a realistic plan that details as precisely as possible how the preserve is going to be completed and spells out alternative additional funding methods, such as property tax. Were talking an up-to-date plan that takes into account today’s political complexities, not one that relies on the situation as it was in the late 20th century.
But urging defeat of this ballot question is not the proper way to get that point of closure. If the May 18 question fails, the ultimate preserve vision will disintegrate fast. The City council wouldn’t have any reason to pursue a property tax or other funding source once the people have said no.
Future Scottsdale generations would cherish a finished 36,400-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve and hail those leaders who accomplish it, much as we today honor and respect those minds who made the innovative Indian Bend Wash greenbelt a reality. The preserve already is shaping up to be an important tourism asset for the entire city.
It shouldn’t be a north vs. south issue, but Ortega is playing to the noisy bunch who are forever trying to sow regional dissension.
Scottsdale lost the Phoenix Coyotes hockey arena proposed for the old Los Arcos Mall site to Glendale. Ortega’s politicking antics would imperil the preserve as well.
On the council, Ortega voted to put the preserve tax question on the ballot.
We wonder if Ortega would be taking a stand against it now if his mayor campaign wasn’t in such dire straits. We appreciate his need to find an issue – something, anything – to attract attention and present himself as a clear choice against Manross.
Too bad he couldn’t come up with anything better than this tactic.