Scottsdale mayoral candidates talk personal significance of Fourth of July holiday

Posted 7/2/20

Scottsdale voters will see a ballot of five candidates seeking to become the next mayor of “The West’s Most Western Town.”

The City of Scottsdale hosts a primary election …

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Scottsdale mayoral candidates talk personal significance of Fourth of July holiday

From left are Scottsdale mayoral candidates: Lisa Borowsky, Bob Littlefield, Suzanne Klapp, David Ortega and Virginia Korte.
From left are Scottsdale mayoral candidates: Lisa Borowsky, Bob Littlefield, Suzanne Klapp, David Ortega and Virginia Korte.
Posted

Scottsdale voters will see a ballot of five candidates seeking to become the next mayor of “The West’s Most Western Town.”

The City of Scottsdale hosts a primary election Tuesday, Aug. 4 meanwhile a general election could be held if needed, which would be Tuesday, Nov. 3. To be elected at the primary election, a candidate must receive a majority of all of the legal votes cast.

The field of mayoral candidates includes two current incumbents but none are strangers to the political limelight. They are:

  • Incumbents Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte.
  • Challengers: Lisa Borowsky, Bob Littlefield and David Ortega.

Leading up to the August primary, Independent Newsmedia has launched a question-and-answer series on major topics of the day impacting the day-to-day lives of local residents.

For the next installment, the Independent reached out to each mayoral candidate to better understand what they think the Fourth of July represents and how those seeds of belief may shape their daily decisions if elected as the next mayor of Scottsdale.

This is what they had to say:


Suzanne Klapp

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?

The Fourth of July represents the birth of America as a nation independent from Great Britain. We owe a great debt to our forefathers for the groundwork they laid and their foresight in 1776. I always remember the irony that two of our forefathers who were instrumental in advancing the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, our second president, and Thomas Jefferson, our third president, both died on the same day --- July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after the Declaration was adopted. Americans must always recognize this important day in history. Its significance is profound.

Our community and national celebrations of Independence Day are important to reinforce the value and depth of our freedoms. It’s disappointing that we cannot celebrate with one another together, in-person this year, but the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be underestimated, and we must all do our part to stay safe. This year, as I watch the fireworks and virtual celebrations from home, I will more quietly reflect on the value of our freedoms and the sacrifices we must all make to protect those freedoms.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?

I am fortunate to have been born in the United States with inherent rights to all the freedoms provided. When I view the persecution and deprivation of people in other parts of the world, I am grateful that I live in this country and can live my life relatively free. We must have rules and laws, but freedom is a way of life in our country and we must never take that freedom for granted.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as mayor of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?

Years ago, the 4th of July was called Independence Day. As such, I never thought of the day as celebrating the Bill of Rights, which came years after the country became independent. I do very much believe in residents’ rights of free speech and assembly and will always support an individual’s right to speak to us at City Council meetings and to provide an opinion directly, through email or whatever communications platform a person prefers.

People also have a right to demonstrate and speak their opinions in public. I will not impede them from sharing their opinions to us, within certain rules of procedure and civility established by our charter and in our city ordinances. I will assure that the business conducted by the City Council will be open to the public consistent with state law.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader, are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?

As elected leaders, we have the right to speak out on political issues that might affect the city. We should speak with civility and emphasize that our positions do not necessarily represent a position of the City of Scottsdale.

Elected city officials are held to a higher standard of behavior than the general public.

That means, we must always model a professional manner, in dress and in conduct, particularly in meetings with the public. When we are exercising our free speech rights, we must recognize that another person or group of individuals holds the same rights. We must carefully choose our words with the public as well, and it is never appropriate to make personal attacks. A good rule of thumb for elected officials to follow is to ask ourselves: “Will my conduct cause public embarrassment and is it made for the long term interest and benefit of the public and the city.”


David Ortega

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?

The Fourth of July spirit means much more than cookouts and fireworks. My indelible Fourth of July experience was traveling by bus cross-country with 28 peers from California, Arizona and New Mexico. We toured every landmark along the way, but the destination was Washington D.C., including a tour of the White House. We saw the Monuments, National Gallery, Smithsonian, and Marine Barracks.

But, I stood in awe in the National Archives where the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution are guarded. We were scholar winners for a speech contest about our government. I was just a teen from a small Arizona town, but I learned America is within me and bigger than all of us.

I have returned several times, still in awe.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?

The Declaration of Independence is the written bond that united the colonies to split from England. The Bill of Rights is the social contract, which guards against “abuse of power” and lists our rights and those reserved to the states.

But, the Bill of Rights never acknowledged women or the enslaved or Indigenous peoples or systematic racism or the oppressed. The Bill of Rights by adoption, is integral with the Constitution, a fluid document, which can fix those contradictions.

It is up to us today to utilize the Declaration, Bill of Rights and Constitution to achieve a “more perfect Union.”

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as mayor of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?

At City Hall, I think of constituent voices like a great stone arch. Imagine honed arch stones that are like points-of-view, stacked at opposing sides, forming a virtual arch. Each side cannot stand on its own, without opposition from the other side of the arch. To be sound, an arch must be built in unison, or it will fail.

Self-governance is consensus building. The arch must meet in the middle, to be rock solid. And if a stone is fractured, or corrosive, it will destroy its side of the arch before it meets the other, half way.

Being mayor of Scottsdale means connecting both sides. Sort of the keystone, which always bears the greatest pressure at completion.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader, are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?

Next year, on June 25, 2021, the City of Scottsdale will be 70 years old. Countless lives have invested heart and soul here and those who journey here speak highly of us. Actually, this Fourth of July 2020 is our 70th celebration in Scottsdale, a bonus.

The elected must always hold to the highest standard, to not damage our investment spiritual and tangible. Mayor and council should celebrate, recognize deficiencies and elevate the Scottsdale brand. I have invested 41 years of my life in Scottsdale, because like you I believe in Scottsdale. Now let’s unwind safely, sharing the “Spirit of 1776.”

Lisa Borowsky

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?

Independence Day represents much more than just a protest against burdensome taxes imposed by an oppressive government far away. It is a statement of freedom that formed the foundations on which our country was built. Our founders were willing to try an experiment in governance unlike any others before it; a representative democracy. That experiment is still a work in progress, but that freedom, declared 244 years ago, must still be cherished and protected, and never taken for granted.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?

Our freedoms, enshrined in the Bill of Rights ratified in 1791, mean you can publish your paper without government intrusion, that you can ask the questions you choose and I can answer the way I choose. It means I can run for public office in a great city, express my views openly and honestly and others are free to agree or disagree openly and honestly.

It means I can practice the religion of my choosing and peacefully protest that which I believe is unjust in an effort to change it. Most importantly, it means my daughter will grow up enjoying those same freedoms, rights and privileges, gifts for many generations in the making.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as mayor of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?

As mayor, I will give a voice to every Scottsdale citizen by including them in the decision-making process through re-establishment of the Citizen Budget Commission, empowering Neighborhood Advisory Panels to ensure their input is included in the General Plan deliberations, and place a priority on being transparent and accountable at City Hall.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader, are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?

The strength of Scottsdale is now, and always has been, our residents. The more they become involved, the more progress we’ll make. No group, no neighborhood, and no individual should be left out. The next mayor must represent all of Scottsdale, not just supporters.

Virginia Korte

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?

Fourth of July is a celebration and a day to remember what sits at the core of everything we believe as human beings and brings us together as a country --- “that all men are created equal.” We have been working at this for over 200 years and we still have work to do. When these words were first spoken, it applied only to white men. Over time, its intent was expanded to include persons of color and women. Despite legal rights, there are some among us who still are not treated equally. It is important to celebrate the Fourth of July, to remember the promise embedded in our foundation and to challenge ourselves to do a better job living up to that promise.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?

The truths put forward in the Declaration of Independence also includes our unalienable rights: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This includes our responsibility to respect the rights of others while we enjoy our rights. We do this with social contracts and with our laws and regulations. Striking this balance is an important responsibility of government and of elected officials. To live up to this, I make every effort to listen to all points of view to make decisions that respect the rights of everyone and serves the greatest good.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as mayor of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?

Residents want to be heard. They want their opinions to matter in decisions made by City Council. I have always made decisions after listening to all stakeholders and base that decision on what is best for all of Scottsdale and its future. The future Scottsdale looks different to many. Some want a bedroom community and others want more. To build on ensuring all residents have a voice, I will bring forward a process to create a community wide vision.

While updating the city’s General Plan is a priority, a visioning process will include a reasonable consensus of what we want our future to look like for generations. It’s time we return to our roots and engage in a community-wide conversation to define a vision for Scottsdale – “Scottsdale Conversations 2050.” Back in the 1960s the city invited citizens to participate in the 1964-65 Scottsdale Town Enrichment Program (STEP) forums.

The STEP committee recommended bold measures to retain and enhance Scottsdale’s character: banning billboards, and the creation of a multi-use recreational greenbelt, which we know today as the Indian Bend greenbelt (and not a concrete channel for flood control). This visioning process, which lasted a few years, laid the foundation for what Scottsdale is today. And subsequent visioning processes in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s built upon each prior decade and our citizens continued to update the guiding principles for which created a shared community vision for Scottsdale. Unfortunately, the last community-wide visioning process was over 20 years ago.

As mayor, I will initiate “Scottsdale Conversations 2050.” This will be a year-long (or more), open-community process that through consensus will build upon past visions and result in a collective vision for the future of our community. This will ensure our citizens’ voices are heard.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader, are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?

As elected leaders, we have a responsibility to treat everyone with respect and to model the values of our community in all we say and do. It is especially important to be respectful of ideas and people with which we disagree. This means we should listen for understanding, ask questions and do our best to explain the reasons for our decisions so that people understand that they have been heard, even if we disagree. As elected officials, we have higher standards to live by and these standard are expectations of our citizens.

Bob Littlefield

•What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to you as an American? And, why is it important for us, as a nation, to celebrate this holiday together?

As a Vietnam combat veteran holidays such as the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Veteran’s day mean a lot to me. I am always heartened to see Americans enthusiastically celebrate these holidays because I see them as forces for unity.

•As we celebrate our independence this month --- and the Bill of Rights, which provides a foundation for how we live today --- how would you describe your American freedoms? What do they mean to you?

It takes constant vigilance to protect our freedoms, complacency and apathy are our enemies.

•A focal point of our Fourth of July holiday celebrates the idea of our First Amendment right to free speech. In your role as mayor of Scottsdale, how will you ensure all residents have a voice at City Hall?

Clearly examples such as the wildly-unpopular DDC and Southbridge 2 projects show the current City Council majority is not listening to their constituents.

•In terms of free speech for an elected leader, are there unwritten rules of etiquette, one must follow? If so, what does that mean to you?

Technically everyone, including elected leaders, has a right to free speech. But elected leaders are (and should be) held to a higher standard because they are expected to set the example for their constituents.

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