Amid support from public officials and local executives, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith officially concluded his more than five-year tenure earlier this week.
First elected as part of the 2008 election, Smith served as mayor from January 2009 until this past Wednesday and was replaced by Vice Mayor Alex Finter on an interim basis.
Smith resigned in order to enter the 2014 gubernatorial race. Among his opponents in the Republican primary contest are State Treasurer Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, state Sen. Al Melvin, former GoDaddy.com executive Christine Jones and disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
“This has been wonderful; this community has been transformed,” Smith said during an event on April 16.
Thursday’s event was a goodbye ceremony organized by the Mesa Chamber of Commerce that featured several community members providing the former mayor kudos for his efforts as mayor. The good wishes were tied to the H.E.A.T initiative that focused on four fields — health care, education, aerospace and technology — and began shortly after Smith took office.
“One might say he fanned the fire that turned up the heat,” said Boeing Chief Engineer for Attack Helicopter John Schibler
The initiative’s purpose is to spur improvement and growth in those industries and tourism through recruitment efforts or ensuring companies remain in Mesa. Schibler’s company, which builds the titular helicopters for the government, is an example of the latter.
A few of the projects mentioned by the various speakers that occurred under Smith’s tenure were the erection of Cubs Park, the recruitment of five colleges to the city — Smith highlighted that in his own speech — and what Visit Mesa President and CEO Marc Garcia described as a strong support for Mesa’s tourism industry. Everything cited within the H.E.A.T initiative focused on both short-term gains and developing the city for the long run.
“Mesa has a rich history, but Mayor Smith has helped us look higher and further than before,” said City Manager Chris Brady.
Speakers such as Able Engineering CFO Lee Benson also endorsed Smith’s gubernatorial aspirations, with Benson pledging his support for Smith throughout the campaign cycle.
“If you become our next governor, we’d finally have one we can be proud of,” Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead added.
According to the Mesa City Charter, the process to find a replacement to complete the last two years of Smith’s term began on April 16 and concludes April 28 at 6 p.m. People who want to vie for the seat have to declare themselves a candidate for the office and file a statement of organization — available at the Office of the City Clerk Monday through Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. — prior to the April 28 deadline.
Candidates have until May 28 at 5 p.m. to file any nomination paperwork, and contenders are entered into the Aug. 26 primary election alongside the races for the Districts 4, 5 and 6 seats. A candidate that receives at least 50 percent, plus at least one additional vote, from that election earns the seat. If that threshold isn’t reached, the seat becomes part of the Nov. 4 general election.
Also up for vote is the District 2 seat that belonged to Finter before he became mayor. People who have lived in the district for at least two years can enter the race and have until April 21 at 6 p.m. to submit the application.
The council members will then meet during a special session to select the replacement, who will serve until Finter returns to his seat after a new mayor is elected and sworn in.
Applications for the District 2 seat are available by visiting mesaaz.gov/council/application.aspx, and anyone with questions regarding either position can contact the City Clerk’s Office at (480) 644-2099.
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