Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton announced on Tuesday that he’s resigning as mayor so that he can run for Congress. Stanton is running for the Congressional District 9 seat currently held by Kyrsten Sinema, who has announced that she is running for U.S. Senate. Stanton’s resignation will take effect at noon on May 29.
The vice mayor, who is currently Congresswoman Thelda Williams, will serve as mayor for 10 days starting immediately after Stanton resigns. Following her short bout as mayor, the city council members will select an interim mayor. Dustin Gardiner, a reporter for The Arizona Republic, says political insiders are betting that the council’s choice will be Williams.
“If she is selected, she will serve until there’s a special election to choose a new mayor which would occur in November,” Gardiner says. “If nobody gets a majority in that November election then there will be a runoff next March, so she could serve close to a year.”
Those who wish to run in the special election must make the announcement in the next ten days. The top two candidates today are council members Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela. There are other candidates like Republican Moses Sanchez, but Gardiner predicts it will be a two-person race between the two Democrats.
“[Moses Sanchez] will be a contender in the race, but Phoenix has not elected a Republican mayor since the late ’90s,” Gardiner says. “The city leans pretty strongly Democratic. Sanchez is coming in this as a political outsider. It will probably be difficult for him to raise as much money and build the kind of support base Gallego or Valenzuela has.”
Stanton has held the title of mayor since 2011 following the great recession. One of his greatest achievements, Gardiner believes the mayor would say, was changing the city’s economy from one that relied on real estate to one that was driven by innovation. Stanton also had success in expanding the light rail and passing Phoenix’s first non-discrimination ordinance for LGBT residents.
“At the same time, his critics feel like he’s left a lot of unfinished business on the table,” Gardiner says. “The city still has some pretty dire financial problems. The city has avoided budget deficits in the last couple of years by extending its payment on its long-term pension debts.”
There is no information on whether or not Stanton will be endorsing any candidate.
TED SIMONS: PHOENIX MAYOR GREG STANTON'S ANNOUNCEMENT YESTERDAY THAT HE'S RESIGNING TO RUN FOR CONGRESS OPENS UP ALL SORTS OF SCENARIOS REGARDING CITY LEADERSHIP. JOINING US NOW TO HELP GUIDE US THROUGH THE RESULTING LABRYNTH IS DUSTIN GARDINER, WHO'S COVERED THE CITY COUNCIL FOR THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. THANKS FOR BEING HERE. FIRST OF ALL THIS WAS NO SURPRISE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT.
DUSTIN GARDINER: NO SURPRISE AT ALL.
TED SIMONS: NOW WITH THAT IN MIND, HOW LONG IS HE OFFICIALLY IN OFFICE.
DUSTIN GARDINER: SO HE IS OFFICALLY IN OFFICE THAT'S UNTIL HIS RESIGNATION TAKES AFFECT AND HE SAID THAT IS UNTIL NOON ON MAY 29th.
TED SIMONS: BY THE WAY HE IS RESIGNING TO RUN FOR KIRSTEN CINEMA’S CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT NINE SEAT. SHE IS RUNNING FOR THE US SENATE. WITH THAT IN MIND. WHO IS THE INTERIM MAYOR, HOW LONG IS THAT PERSON INTERIM MAYOR?
DUSTIN GARDINER: THE WAY THE PROCESS WORKS THERE IS A VICE MAYOR WHO IS CURRENTLY COUNCIL WOMAN THELMA WILLIAMS. THE VICE MAYOR SERVES AS MAYOR FOR TEN DAYS AND OTHER CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS WILL SELECT AN INTERIM MAYOR AFTER THAT POINT. ALL OF THE POLITICAL INSIDERS THAT I HAVE TALKED TO SAY THAT'S DEFINITLEY GOING TO BE THELMA WILLIAMS.AND THEN SHE WILL SERVE IF THAT IS ACCURATE AND SHE IS SELECTED AS INTERIM MAYOR, SHE WILL SERVE UNTIL THERE IS A SPECIAL SELECTION TO SELECT A NEW MAYOR IN NOVEMBER. AND IF NO ONE GETS A MAJORITY IN THAT NOVEMBER ELECTION, THERE WILL BE A RUN RUNOFF NEXT MARCH. SO SHE COULD SERVE, YOU KNOW CLOSE TO A YEAR.
TED SIMONS: THAT IS QUITE A LONG TIME. SO YOU GOT TEN DAYS BEFORE THE COUNCIL ELECTION AND THEN NOVEMBER FOR A GENERAL ELECTION. IF NO ONE GETS 50%, ANOTHER ELECTION IN MARCH. WHOLE TIME THELMA WILLIAMS IS SITTING IN. MOST LIKELY.
DUSTIN GARDINER: CORRECT.
TED SIMONS: THE NEXT MAYOR, CANDIDATES HAVE TO DECLARE IN NEXT TEN DAYS? TRUE?
DUSTIN GARDINER: YES.
TED SIMONS: WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES THEY ARE MOST LIKELY TO DECLARE?
DUSTIN GARDINER: THE TWO HEAVY HITTERS AT THIS POINT ARE COUNSEL MEMBERS GIAGO AND VENEZUELA. THERE ARE SEVERAL OTHER CANDIDATES IN THE RACE. THERE'S REPUBLICAN MOSES SANCHEZ. BUT AT THIS POINT, I THINK EVERYONE SORT OF SEES THIS AS A TWO-PERSON RACE BETWEEN GIAGO AND VENEZUELA. BOTH OF THEM HAVE BEEN COUNSEL MEMBERS FOR QUITE A FEW YEARS. BOTH HAVE STRONG SUPPORT IN BUSINESS COMMUNITY WITH LABOR UNIONS AND CITY HALL INSIDERS. SO I THINK THIS IS SHAPING UP TO BE A STRONG SLUGFEST BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM.
TED SIMONS: YEAH. BOTH DEMOCRATS. NOW MOSES SANCHEZ HE IS I’VE READ HE IS KIND OF PUSHING THIS GUY BECAUSE HE'S A REPUBLICAN.
DUSTIN GARDINER: CORRECT. HE WILL BE A CONTENDER IN THE RACE BUT PHOENIX IS NOT ELECTED A REPUBLICAN MAYOR SINCE LATE 90S. THE CITY YOU KNOW LEADS PRETTY STRONGLY DEMOCRAT. AND SANCHEZ IS COMING AT THIS AS POLITICAL OUTSIDER. IT IS GOING TO BE PROBABLY DIFFICULT FOR HIM TO RAISE AS MUCH MONEY AND BUILD THE SORT OF SUPPORT BASE THAT VENEZUELA OR GIAGO HAVE. BOTH HAVE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IN THE BANK AND ARE PRETTY WELL POSITIONED TO RUN A FORMIDABLE CAMPAIGN.
TED SIMONS: AND AGAIN THEY HAVE TO DECLARE IN THE NEXT TEN DAYS. THEN HOW LONG BEFORE THEY HAVE TO RESIGN?
DUSTIN GARDINER: THEY WOULD HAVE UNTIL ABOUT THE LATE SUMMER TO RESIGN ITS EARLY AUGUST. DEPENDING WHEN THEY RESIGN TRIGGERS THE SELECTIONS TO FILL THEIR SEATS. IF THEY WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE, THEIR ELECTION FOR THEIR SEAT PROBABLY WILL NOT HAPPEN UNTIL THE FOLLOWING MARCH.
TED SIMONS: BUT IF THEY DID RESIGN, BEFORE JUNE 19th, THEN WHAT HAPPENS?
DUSTIN GARDINER: IF THEY RESIGN BEFORE JUNE 19th, THEN THE ELECTION FOR THOSE SEATS WILL COME UP THIS NOVEMBER.
TED SIMONS: FOR THE SEATS THAT THET ARE LEAVING.
DUSTIN GARDINER: YES. SO THE DISTRICT 5 AND DISTRICT 8 CITY COUNCIL SEATS THAT WOULD BE ON BALLOT WITH THE MAYORS RACE IN NOVEMBER.
TED SIMONS: BUT AGAIN AFTER JUNE 19th THEN THAT GOES TO MARCH ALONG WITH A POSSIBLE RUNOFF ELECTION.
DUSTIN GARDINER: YES.
TED SIMONS: ARE WE GOING TO GET ANYONE SITTING IN THE CHAIR LONG ENOUGH TO KEEP IT WARM.
DUSTIN GARDINER: YOU KNOW IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT HOW THIS IS GOING TO TURN OUT. IT ALL JUST DEPENDS ON WHICH DOMINO IS PULLED OUT FIRST WHICH COUNCIL MEMBER RESIGNS FIRST. IT WILL BE VERY INTERESTING TO SEE HOW IT ALL KIND OF PLAYS OUT.
TED SIMONS: WITH THAT IN MIND, BIG ISSUE IN PHOENIX. LIGHT RAIL EXPANSION, YOU GOT THE SUNS AND DIAMONDBACKS ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO FOR THE FUTURE. THE CITY IS OBVIOUSLY INVOLVED THERE. HIRING MORE POLICE OFFICERS. FIXING MORE ROADS. HOW WILL NATURE OF COUNSEL CHANGE? WILL IT BE AN APPRECIABLE CHANGE? WILL WE SEE SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCES WITH FOLKS COMING IN AND OUT?
DUSTIN GARDINER: YEAH I THINK YOU CAN SEE A PRETTY SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN THE MAKEUP OF COUNCIL. MAYOR STANTON FOR THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS HAS HAD A FIRM DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY ON COUNCIL. THERE HAVE BEEN ISSUES WHERE THE COUNCIL HAS BUGGED THE MAYOR. BUT THAT HAS NOT OCCURRED VERY OFTEN ESPECIALLY IN LAST COUPLE OF YEARS OF HIS TERM. HE’S HAD UH- HIM AND HIS ADMINISTRATION HAVE DONE A PRETTY GOOD JOB OF WRANGLING THE DEMOCRATIC VOTES ON THE BIG ISSUES. SO WITH NEW VOICES COMING IN, IT'S A TOTALLY OPEN GAME AT THIS POINT IN TERMS OF WHO IS GOING TO BE RUNNING THE COUNCIL MAJORITY ON SOME OF THOSE BIG ISSUES. COUNCILMAN DICICCIO YOU MENTIONED, HE HAD SOMETHING OUT YESTERDAY SAYING NOW THAT STANTON IS LEAVING, HIM AND OTHER COUNCIL MEMBERS CAN START A MORE SERIOUS CONVERSATION ABOUT THINGS LIKE HIRING MORE POLICE OFFICERS OR REPAIRING ROADS. IT WILL BE ANYBODY'S GUESS WHAT THE MAJORITY ON THE COUNCIL WOULD BE.
TED SIMONS: IT IS NO SECRET THAT COUNCILMAN DICICCIO AND THE MAYOR WERE NOT THE BEST OF BUDDIES.
DUSTIN GARDINER: YEAH.
TED SIMONS: NOT THE BEST OF FRIENDS. BUT AGAIN, THE REMAINING COUNCIL IS SUPPOSED TO APPOINT THESE INTERIM MEMBERS WHEN THEY LEAVE SO, I MEAN, THERE WILL BE SOME CONTINUATION I THINK?
DUSTIN GARDINER: YES SO I MEAN THERE IS JOGGING BEHIND THE SCENES FOR WELL OVER A YEAR TO DETERMINE WHO IS GOING TO FILL THOSE SEATS AS THE VACANCIES COME UP. THERE IS HIGH PROFILE NAMES FLOATING AROUND IN BOTH DISTRICTS. IN SOUTH PHOENIX, DISTRICT EIGHT WE HAVE FORMER COUNCILMAN MICHAEL JOHNSON BEING TALKED ABOUT. SCHOOLBOARD MEMBER LAWRENCE ROBINSON BEING TALKED ABOUT AND STEWART, JR. THE SON OF CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER STEWART SENIOR AND IN DISTRICT FIVE THE WEST PHOENIX DISTRICT . AND YOU HAVE JUSTIN JOHNSTON THE SON OF FORMER MAYOR BEING TALKED ABOUT. YOU HAVE JOHN GOMEZ DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST BEING TALKED ABOUT. SO A LOT OF HIGH PROFILE NAMES KIND OF ALREADY IN THE GAME ANTICIPATING THESE THINGS.
TED SIMONS: OF A LOT OF TALK THERE. AS FAR AS GREG STANTON, SEVEN YEARS AS MAYOR TWO TERMS AS A COUNCILMAN BEFORE THAT. WHAT WOULD BE HIS LEGACY, DO YOU THINK AS MAYOR OF PHOENIX? SO SOME OF MAYOR'S BIG ACCOMPLISHMENTS I THINK NUMBER ONE THAT COMES TO MIND IS LIGHT RAIL EXPANSION. HE SUCCEEDING IN COVINCING VOTERS TO– INCREASING SALES TAX TO FUND A PRETTY EXPANSIVE EXTENSION OF LIGHT RAIL. HE SUCCEED TO GET THE CITY TO PASS THE ORADANCE FOR LBGT RESIDENTS. THAT WAS ANOTHER BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT. I THINK THE MAYOR IF HE PICKED I THINK THE BIGGEST THING HE WOULD POINT TO WOULD BE JUST THE WAY THE ECONOMY HAS CHANGED IN PHOENIX IN LAST SIX AND A HALF YEARS. CAME IN AS MAYOR TOWARD THE END OF RECESSION. PHOENIX HAS BEEN PRETTY WIDELY CRITICIZED FOR HAVING ECONOMY VERY DEPENDENT ON REAL ESTATE AND HE FOCUSED A LOT OF HIS MAYORSHIP ON – TRYING TO DIVERBECOMING MOR INNOVATION DRIVEN ECONOMY. SO I THINK THAT'S WHAT MAYOR WOULD POINT TO. BUT AT THE SAME TIME HIS CRITICS FEEL LIKE MAYOR HAS LEFT A LOT OF UNFINISHED BUSINESS ON THE TABLE. THE CITY STILL HAS SOME PRETTY DIRE PROBLEMS AND THE CITY’S AVOIDED BUDGET DEFICITS IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS BY ENTENDING ITS PAYMENT ON ITS LONG TERM PENSION DEBT AND LIKE YOU MENTIONED LOTS OF CONCERNS ABOUT NUMBER OF POLICE OFFICERS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS THEY ARE CONCERNED THE CITY STILL HAS FEWER OFFICERS THAN DID BEFORE THE RECESSION.
TED SIMONS: SO LAST QUESTION, BETWEEN THE TWO DEMOCRATS, WILL THEY BOTH TRY TO GRAB THE COATTAILS? IS ONE CONSIDERED CLOSER THAN OTHER THAN OUTGOING MAYOR?
DUSTIN GARDINER: YOU KNOW THAT IS PRETTY TOUGH TO SAY I MEAN THEY ARE ALL DEMOCRATS. THEY WERE PRETTY SIMILAR. YOU KNOW I THINK HIS ENDORSEMENT IS HIGHLY COVETED IN THIS RACE. I DON'T ANY WAY TO SAY SUGGEST WHO HE'S GOING TO LEAN FOR IF ANYONE ACTUALLY.
TED SIMONS: SOUNDS LIKE ROCK EM SOCK EM TIME COMING UP. DUSTIN GARDINER ARIZONA REPUBLIC GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.
DUSTIN GARDINER: THANK YOU.
TED SIMONS: LATER ON ARIZONA HORIZON: CITIZENSHIP NUMBERS ARE INCREASING IN THIS TIME OF UNCERTAINTY FOR IMMIGRANTS.
Dustin Gardiner: Arizona Republic