The proposed property tax and sales tax increase, illegal immigration and other issues affecting Mesa residents will be debated by seven City Council candidates Tuesday in a Tribune-sponsored forum.
The event will feature candidates from three council districts — downtown’s District 4, northeast District 5 and southeast District 6. Early voting begins Feb. 9 for the March 14 election.
In District 4, Councilman Kyle Jones is seeking reelection against three challengers — Pat Esparza, Ilias Kostopoulos and J.T. Ready. Councilman Rex Griswold is running unopposed in District 5, while in District 6 Councilwoman Janie Thom is seeking re-election against Scott Somers.
The most crowded and diverse race is in District 4, which includes downtown Mesa and areas south. This includes the Broadway corridor that is home to a growing Hispanic population that makes up a majority of the district.
The candidates are split on the property tax — Jones and Esparza both favor the tax, while Ready and Kostopoulos are both opposed. The candidates also are trying to appeal to different segments of the population of the district.
Esparza, a federal investigator and substitute teacher, said at a debate last week that she would seek more Hispanic involvement.
Ready, a concealed weapons instructor, is an outspoken critic of illegal immigration and was a member of the Minuteman Project along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Jones, a telecommunications contractor, said he opposes all taxes, but the city has no other choice but to seek a property tax. Jones voted to place the tax measures on the ballot.
Kostopoulos, a retired electronics inspector, said he is not taking campaign contributions and wouldn’t take a salary.
District 6 includes the fastgrowing southeast part of Mesa and the Williams Gateway Airport area, which the city hopes will become the major employment center in the south East Valley.
Thom, a private investor, and Somers, a Phoenix firefighter and paramedic, stress the importance of that area.
Thom, often on the losing end of 6-1 or 5-2 council votes, opposes the property tax and light rail and has the support of conservative groups, while Somers supports the tax and is being backed by Mayor Keno Hawker and former Arizona Speaker of the House Mark Killian, who is his campaign manager.
What: Tribune-sponsored Mesa City Council candidates debate
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Council chambers, 57 E. First St.
Information: (480) 898-6474