Greg Stanton certainly knows how to get a good turnout. It's 5:15 p.m. on Thursday and I'm searching for a parking spot in a quiet Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhood.
The street is covered in cars all heading for the same house, which is the starting place for tonight's campaign walk. Early ballots hit mail boxes this morning and Stanton's campaign is eager to knock on some doors and make sure voters across the city know he cares.
The house is easy to spot. There are three "Stanton for Mayor" signs in the front and it seems like the door probably hasn't been able to close in a half hour because of all the people flowing in. It's a crowded living room, but everyone squeezes in for a quick training before pairing up and heading out.
There are 356 pairs going out from 14 locations across the city, according to Ruben Alonzo, campaign manager. So far volunteers have just been making calls to possible voters to avoid the heat.
But knocking on doors and talking to people in person has a better effect, so this weekend they're asking volunteers to face the heat and get out there. This is only Day 1 but they plan on going out every day over the weekend and then again closer to Aug. 30; a turnout like tonight is not something rare.
In fact, they expect to double the amount of volunteers going out over the weekend.
I'm sent out with Carola Tamarkin and Chad Blostone. I know Blostone from other stories I've written. He's a member of the village planning committee, a board member for the Foothills Home Owners Association, and a co-chair to the citizens group Sal DiCiccio put together on the Loop 202.
Basically I can call him for just about any story and he has something to say about it.
I've also called him in the past because I know he is a Republican, so seeing him here supporting Greg Stanton for mayor is a little surprising. During the night I find out Tamarkin is a Republican too.
"I'm generally a pretty conservative guy, but I think in the municipality the lines blur a little bit," says Blostone. "The lines blur because of the issues that they deal with. There are positions that Greg takes on issues that I disagree with but they're not issues that he can affect at the municipality. So I don't mind that his opinions are different because he won't have a direct effect on those issues.
"The community issues I'm very much in agreement with him. I've found him over the years to be a tireless advocate of the community."
Tamarkin says her support stems from seeing Stanton as Ahwatukee's city councilman. At that time, he helped get the police substation in Ahwatukee and helped build the overpass on Ray Road just before Ray and Chandler meet.
He's also been an advocate for alternative routes for the Loop 202 and for preserving open land. Tamarkin says she saw Greg at a meeting and just felt like he was very reasonable.
"He hadn't been around for forever," says Tamarkin. "I just think he seemed like a smart, decent guy who has some good ideas. The slogan that he's independent, in a sense, I like.
"I'm not looking for somebody right now who has been known for some type of affiliation like big real estate people or something. That's their mantra and all of their efforts are going to be toward that. I want someone who's a little broader in their perspective."
I follow Blostone up to 10 houses while Tamarkin waits in the car. Out of the first 10 homes, we get no answers and Blostone just leaves a flyer at the door. He tells me he's done this for other campaigns and it's always tough to get someone to open their door.
We have more luck later, but the only person I'm able to encounter has only one question: "What's his party affiliation?"
When we get back to the car, I decide to ask Blostone how he responds to concerns that Stanton is endorsed by unions.
"Unions have had a strong influence in municipalities for a long time and all the candidates have received different levels of support from those unions," says Blostone. "I think if you look at the past history of some of the candidates that are running, they've enjoyed a lot of that union support too. ... It wasn't until recently that they began to step away from that because Sal said it was something that's important to the community."
I stick with the pair for about an hour and a half before I've got to get home. It's hot and obnoxious climbing in and out of the car over and over going door to door, but they'll keep doing this until the sun goes down.
At least they have the comfort of knowing they're not alone in their work.
Seven hundred and twelve other people are doing the same thing all weekend long because they want Phoenix voters to know Stanton is the man for the job.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or firstname.lastname@example.org