Former City Councilwoman Susan Bitter Smith is convinced it’s time for Scottsdale to switch to a district form of government.
Community volunteer Sonnie Stevens isn’t so sure.
Bitter Smith and Stevens were among five people who debated Wednesday at the Mustang Library whether Scottsdale should switch to a district form of city government.
"This is a very different city than it used to be. We have different needs for different parts of the city," Bitter Smith said.
The City Council voted 6-1 in September to place Proposition 100 on the March 9 ballot asking voters if they want to create six districts and six council seats to replace the current at-large council system. The mayor would continue to be elected at-large.
"If you vote yes you will slice and dice Scottsdale into pieces," Stevens said. "In a district system, you only have one council member you can call."
"Most cities have districting," countered James Derouin, a Scottsdale businessman. "This is how we elected our Congress and Legislature."
Former Councilman Greg Bielli said the districting system would create six "mini mayors."
"Right now I have seven City Council members I can call," he said.
Districts are geographic regions divided by population, demographics, and ethnicity and race.
The U.S. Department of Justice has final say over boundary lines.
If approved, residents in each district will elect a council representative from their area, while the mayor would be elected citywide. The first three council district seats would be up for election in March 2006, and the remaining three in March 2008.
Scottsdale is Arizona’s fifth-most populous city and the only one in that category without council district seats.
The 185-square-mile city has 220,000 residents. Mesa was the last East Valley city to move to a district system with a citywide vote in 1998.