Even if you don't live in Tempe, the donnybrook to succeed Mayor Neil Giuliano will be well worth watching. So far, Councilman Dennis Cahill and former Councilman Hugh Hallman have tossed their hats in the ring.
It's a safe bet that anyone else considering a run would be an also-ran against these two heavyweights. Both are smart and well-liked. And they provide voters with an intriguing contrast in both issues and style.
Cahill is a liberal-leaning friend of labor unions who also gets a hefty crossover vote. Hallman is conservative-leaning with a broad base of support.
Cahill's proud of his record spearheading an ordinance requiring municipal contractors to provide insurance benefits to their workers. He's also behind a city program that notifies low-income residents about the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, he backed the city's controversial smoking ban and supported creation of a city employees' group to further their interests. Cahill says strengthening neighborhoods will be high on his priority list as mayor.
Hallman has been more critical of City Hall and was an early opponent of Town Lake as too risky for taxpayers. He says as mayor he'll work hard to bring in development that will help pay for maintaining the lake. While on the council, Hallman also spearheaded opposition to Phoenix's management of Sky Harbor International Airport, complaining there were too many overflights of residential areas in violation of agreements between the two cities.
Cahill supports light rail while Hallman calls it wasteful. Cahill has supported Tempe's sometimes controversial redevelopment projects while Hallman says he would be more sparing with handing out taxpayer-backed incentives.
Both men have strong personalities and aren't afraid to press a point they feel strongly about. Cahill is more prone to passionate oratory, while Hallman lets loose with barrages of facts and figures that can leave opponents slack-jawed and glassy-eyed.
While Cahill and Hallman can lay claim to their respective pools of committed voters, centrist voters likely will determine the outcome. And who's running for council also could play a big part; many voters may, for example, vote for Cahill and a more conservative council candidate to keep the dais balanced.
Let the fun begin.