It appears partisan politics is about to enter Scottsdale's mayoral and City Council election, which for the first time will be held the same day as the Republican and Democratic primaries.
Local activists have formed an independent expenditure committee, Republicans for a Bright New Day in Scottsdale, that not only signals upcoming support for Republican candidates but also takes aim at Mayor Mary Manross' slogan for the campaign, "It's a Bright New Day in Scottsdale."
The committee, which is being led by Sue Wood and Mike Fernandez, is expected to launch television commercials and take out newspaper ads, they said. Both Wood and Fernandez said they did not know how much their group would spend, where it would receive its money, or when the commercials would start airing.
Both defended bringing party affiliation into the nonpartisan Sept. 2 election even though Scottsdale city candidates will not be identified by party on the ballot, and candidates have not identified themselves by party.
But unlike past mayor and council elections in March in which there were no partisan primaries, this year's voters will also be making partisan choices. The group hopes to capitalize on a GOP registration advantage in Scottsdale, as well as Republicans perhaps being motivated to go to the polls to choose a 5th Congressional District candidate to run against U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., in November.
"You are a Republican, Democrat or independent for a reason, that's your belief," said Fernandez, a downtown merchant. "To be nonpartisan, that means nothing to me."
Wood said: "We think that officials will govern based on what their political philosophy is."
Wood and Fernandez have been critical of Manross, who is a Democrat running against Republican Jim Lane. Wood, who founded Scottsdaletraffic.com and along with Fernandez is opposed to light rail, also recently produced commercials that criticized the city's transportation plan.
Manross, who is seeking a third term as mayor, said the race should absolutely be nonpartisan, despite this group's attempt to make it otherwise."I don't know if it's legal, but I do know it's not ethical," Manross said.
Manross said she's not concerned about partisan attacks because people know what she believes in and what she is willing to fight for.