March 28, 2005
Although Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman refuses to publicly endorse ballot propositions going before the voters, he plans to attend a private fund-raiser next month aimed at paying down more than $350,000 of debt that supporters of Proposition 400 racked up last year.
Hallman said that decision does not signal a change in his political philosophy, and he will continue to stay out of political campaigns and ballot propositions.
"I think it’s important and appropriate to seek to retire the debt from that campaign," Hallman said. "I do not want to involve myself in issues that go beyond the scope of mayor."
But, some opponents of the proposition, which passed in November and extends the half-cent sales tax for transportation in Maricopa County, were disappointed to hear of Hallman’s plans.
Becky Fenger, spokeswoman for Voters Opposing Tax Extension, said Hallman is an honorable man, but should have turned down the invitation.
Cox Communications, Southwest Gas, Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service Co. and the Association of General Contractors will host the event from 5 to 7 p.m. April 18 at the Wyndham Phoenix hotel.
Patricia Likens, SRP spokeswoman, said the event honors members of the Transportation Policy Committee, which worked to develop a regional transportation plan. The committee includes East Valley mayors.
Charles Coughlin, a spokesman for Higher Ground — a political consulting
firm spearheading the Proposition 400 effort — said supporters of the proposition need to pay off about $150,000 for political signs and mailers. Supporters also owe $200,000 on a loan taken from the General Contractors Association during the final weeks of the campaign, Coughlin said.