The sole competitive City Council race in Mesa pits two candidates against each other who most voters have never heard of, yet each has amassed endorsements from some of the region's more influential people.
Longtime activist Vic Linoff is backed by Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, five council members, and U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, along with other political and business figures from Tempe.
Political newcomer Christopher Glover's supporters include members of prominent Mesa families, Apache Junction Mayor John Insalaco and key conservative Republican lawmakers who represent Mesa: Sen. Russell Pearce and Reps. Steve Court and Cecil Ash.
The winner will represent District 4, the downtown and center-city area that has been hit hard by declining neighborhoods but also is poised to get a boost with three new miles of light-rail.
Both candidates call for stronger revitalization efforts, but each has a starkly different background.
Linoff said he's been encouraged to run for office for years because of decades of experience with downtown revitalization, public transportation, historic preservation and business involvement through his ownership of Those Were the Days! in downtown Tempe. He helped form the Downtown Tempe Community, a merchant group that manages downtown, and worked on a 1980s revamp of Mill Avenue's streetscape.
"I can't think of having a better resume for this job than what I've done over the years, never with the intention of running," said Linoff, 67.
Glover said he decided to run after seeing the election would be uncontested. The 23-year-old Mesa native said his philosophies are more in line with the district's voters and that his bilingual skills will be a plus in the heavily Hispanic area.
"I thought that it was my time for my generation to participate in the political process," Glover said. "I want to be extremely accessible to the citizens. I want to be their voice."
Glover has a political science degree from Arizona State University and served as an intern for U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada. The experience showed him how politics can help people and make a difference, he said.
Linoff and Glover share many goals for Mesa. Both want to bolster downtown and ease development restrictions to make it easier for businesses to move into old buildings. They say they look forward to light rail being extended to Mesa Drive.
They support using city funds to help develop a new Chicago Cubs spring training complex, which could locate downtown, at Riverview Park or in northeast Mesa. Linoff prefers the downtown site because that would spur new life in the area, but Glover said he doesn't think downtown offers enough space and leans toward other locations.
Glover said residents have told him they're concerned about the number of group homes in the area and a lack of code enforcement.
"They want to see Mesa reinvest time and energy to make these neighborhoods inviting for people to move into again so we can build a stronger community here," Glover said.
Linoff said a key to revitalizing west Mesa is through more flexible land-use rules known as form-based zoning. That would allow lofts downtown and make it easier to convert old buildings into different uses than are allowed now. Linoff said his downtown Tempe activism has given him insights to oversee revitalization in Mesa.
"I lived through all of the experiences of the redevelopment of downtown and have, I think, developed an acute understanding of what does and does not work based on that experience," Linoff said.
Mesa City Council Candidates
Voters in three of Mesa’s City Council districts face an Aug. 24 election — but only one of the races is contested.
Dina Higgins is running for a second term in District 5, which spans northeast Mesa. Scott Somers is also seeking a second term in District 6, covering southeast Mesa.
The competitive race involves Vic Linoff and Christopher Glover in District 4, encompassing downtown and areas south of there. That district is served by Kyle Jones, who is prevented from running because of term limits.
Early ballots may be requested through Aug. 13. To request one, call the Mesa City Clerk at (480) 644-4868 or the Maricopa County Elections Department at (602) 506-1511.
Christopher Glover: christopherjglover.com
Dina Higgins: dinahiggins.com
Vic Linoff: electviclinoff.com
Scott Somers: votescottsomers.com