West Mesa neighborhood leader Dave Richins announced this week he is considering a run for the District 1 Mesa City Council seat, which is now held by Vice Mayor Claudia Walters.
Richins said he will form an exploratory committee to see if he should pursue the seat.
Walters is considering a run for the mayor’s post in the 2008 election, which is now scheduled for November but could be moved up to March by the Arizona Legislature.
Richins, 37, said an open seat in District 1 creates an opportunity for political newcomers.
Richins and veterans advocate Frank Alger have expressed interest in running for the seat, according to city election officials.
Richins is the executive director of the West Mesa Community Development Corporation, linked to the Mesa Grande Community Alliance and aimed at helping to revitalize west Mesa.
Richins also serves on the city’s Design Review Board.
He said he can bring a bit of practicality to the council.
“Political ideology has never revitalized a neighborhood,” he said.
Richins has made a name for himself as one of the leaders of the west Mesa neighborhood alliance. The group was the first to announce that the businessmen behind the Waveyard water park proposal were interested in locating in Mesa.
The Mesa Grande nonprofit, meanwhile, has helped lay the groundwork for developers to build mixed-use projects in west Mesa along the future Metro light-rail line, which will run on Main Street.
The organization also has been involved in neighborhood issues, such as coordinating block-watch programs in the west Mesa area. The block watches were advocated for by the Mesa Grande Community Alliance.
“The essence of what Mesa Grande has done ... is rolled up their sleeves, they didn’t just complain about problems,” he said.
Richins said he is pro-development and said he supported the city’s failed attempt to pass a property tax. He said he would support the city’s current proposal to create a temporary property tax to fund basic city services such as police, fire and streets.
“I would vote yes for a property tax because I think it’s a stable funding source. But I don’t make that decision, the voters get to decide that,” he said.
Tanya Collins, a neighborhood leader with Mesa Grande, said Richins’ experience in neighborhoods and development could make him a good fit for the council.
“He’s a smart, energetic individual who is well-versed in city issues,” she said.
The 2008 city election will open up at least four and potentially five spots on the council, either because of term limits or because some incumbents have announced they don’t plan to seek another term.