Caputi: A pre-election letter to Scottsdale

By Tammy Caputi
Posted 7/31/20

The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 4, and we are at a watershed moment in Scottsdale.

Who could have imagined we’d be campaigning in the middle of a global pandemic?

The personal …

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Caputi: A pre-election letter to Scottsdale


The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 4, and we are at a watershed moment in Scottsdale.

Who could have imagined we’d be campaigning in the middle of a global pandemic?

The personal impact borne by our residents, the pain to local businesses, social unrest and injustice, and the collapse of our city budget presents the incoming council with unprecedented challenges.

Candidates looking back on past grudges and obstruction of business offer no solutions. We need the brightest, most collaborative, forward-thinking candidates, whose vision is of prosperity and inclusion for all our residents. We must rebuild our economy, protect our public health, and reopen our schools.

One unexpected benefit of campaigning during COVID-19 is that much of the campaign has been online. I’ve had thousands of conversations on the phone, email, and messaging, with voters of every age, neighborhood, income level and family situation.

The No. 1 question has been: what political party are you? I’m not registered with a party; Scottsdale elections are nonpartisan --- free from party politics.

What matters are a candidate’s values --- our core beliefs and principles. Most of us share values even when we disagree on positions. Freedom, opportunity, security, fairness, equality, safety, protection; if we focus on our shared values instead of party affiliation we can find common ground and solutions that work for everyone.

Here are four of the most common questions I’ve been asked. Hopefully my answers align with your values and I can earn your support.

What are your thoughts on police reform?

More transparency is better; the police need to be accountable to the community they serve. It’s not about “defunding,” it’s a question of allocating. Government services require money; we’re debating which buckets to fund them from.

We need to honor the men and women in our police department who work hard and risk their lives to keep us safe, while ensuring that the jobs we require them to do make sense and satisfy our residents.

There are cities across the country that have restructured their police departments to move law enforcement away from situations better suited to mental health professionals or community officers, like dealing with homeless populations.

This makes sense, but a shifting of resources towards community based policing must happen over time, not overnight.

It’s time to have conversations about reforming the culture of police departments, and it should be a conversation that involves all the stakeholders in our community, including our officers. I’ve been endorsed by Scottsdale police and fire, and I support working with both departments to continually aim higher. Good communication is always key.

Development: more or less?

Development is about balance: not more or less, but where it’s appropriate.

We’ve set aside one-fourth of our city as Preserve that should never be developed, which is part of what makes Scottsdale so special. The city is almost all built out, and we must be strategic in further infill projects. We have very high standards for development and open space requirements.

Almost half of our city budget is funded by retail sales tax. We need to make sure the important areas like downtown, the Airpark, and the 101/Bell Road corridor generate the critical sales tax revenue needed to maintain our winning economic formula: high amenities, strong property values, low property taxes.
Without a vibrant economy, we have to cut services or raise taxes.

We are not a bedroom community and we can’t bubblewrap the city --- we’re a thriving economic hub with over 18,000 businesses employing 200,000 people.

Should there be a mask mandate?

I don’t like the word mandate: freedom is a core value of mine, and no one likes to be told what to do.

I’m also a local business owner worried about revenues, and a mother of three school-aged children who are falling behind in school.

If doing a few small things like social distancing, washing hands and covering our faces in public will help us reopen the economy, get people back to work, and begin to ease the immense emotional and financial pain so many are feeling, I’m willing to pitch in.

No one likes masks or mandates, but this is a pretty small ask until we get a handle on these devastating problems. Sometimes we must put our community first. This is an unprecedented situation. We need to keep gathering data, listen to the science and continually improve our decisions as we help our community get back on its feet.

Schools reopening

School is scheduled to “start” next week online. As a parent with three children in our local public schools, my husband and I share every family’s concerns about how we will stay safe, make sure our kids don’t fall further behind in their education, and work while also supporting our kids’ remote learning from home.

We need solutions based on real time with real data. We need to build trust and accountability, and remain flexible through collaboration and partnerships.

We can use this emergency as an opportunity to replace old systems with new and better ones; we can build back more prosperous, more prepared, and more equal. Now is the time to be thinking ahead, and thinking differently.

The best policies are crafted in collaboration with all stakeholders, use data, are transparent, and keep implementation in mind. We need to decrease the “silos” in city government, and make sure we bring everyone who cares about the city together, working to build a brighter, positive, inclusive future. We’ve had four months already to figure this out. Let’s put aside our differences and get it done.

These are my answers to your most common questions. They represent my values, which I hope you share. I will not govern with partisan politics but with facts and an open mind, always striving for consensus and collaboration.

If elected, I will represent all the citizens of Scottsdale with an eye towards the future. I am grateful for the support I’ve had so far and would be honored for your vote.

Editor’s Note: Tammy Caputi is president of Yale Electric West and a candidate for Scottsdale City Council in the Aug. 4 primary election.