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.