Former state Sen. Tom Freestone plans to launch an exploratory committee to determine if he should make a run for Mesa mayor in 2008.
Freestone, 68, said Tuesday he hopes to form the committee at the start of the new year.
But he has yet to make an official announcement that he will run.
Freestone already plans to hold a campaign fundraising effort on Jan. 22, and for the past year he’s been collecting the names of people interested in lending him their political support.
Freestone is one of several people eyeing the mayoral seat. Former councilman Pat Gilbert and Mesa resident Alan Cohen have formed campaign committees to run for the post, which will be vacated by Mayor Keno Hawker when his term expires.
City Councilman Rex Griswold launched an exploratory committee last week to research running.
Also Tuesday, Vice Mayor Claudia Walters said she is “certainly thinking” about a run for mayor when her term expires along with Hawker’s.
“This will be a race of people’s records, ability and experience and we are going to make that record known strongly,” Freestone said.
“The people in Mesa want to get out of the hole they are in now.”
Freestone, who lives in council District 1, started his political career in 1968 as constable of East Mesa Justice Court.
He went on to serve as manager of the Maricopa County’s automobile license bureau, chief deputy recorder, county recorder, county supervisor for 14 years, a two-term state senator and justice of the peace.
He currently serves as a pro tem judge for the Justice of the Peace court.
If elected mayor, he said he’d make it a priority to restore the confidence in government shaken during the city’s controversial property tax referendum this spring.
“It has to open up and be a government of inclusion, not exclusion,” Freestone said.
“A lot of people were never invited to deal with the issue and give input. You have to have outreach before you make a major policy change.”
He also wants to lure businesses back to Mesa to boost sales tax revenue, and plans to focus on law enforcement issues.
One of Freestone’s supporters is Steve Johnson, the vice chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee and a member of the Valley Business Owners and Concerned Citizens.
“Tom has stepped away from the problem long enough to be able to look at it from a fresh set of eyes,” Johnson said.