Mayor Candidates’ Forum December 13

Youtube link is here.

75 minutes. Much more informative than the city council video, perhaps because there are only two candidates, Mark Mitchell and Corey Woods, and they have more time to talk. There is also some well-mannered clash: the two candidates appear to like each other, but Woods would do some things differently and do more things. Both candidates seem to be knowledgeable about lots of programs and to believe that lots of programs is a good thing.

Here is a map of the video. There are 14 questions. Comments are mine, based on listening only once. In their opening statements, starting at 4:23 Mitchell expresses pride in the equal pay and anti-discrimination ordinances, and at 5:30 Woods sees challenges in traffic, homelessness, and bulk trash.

  1. economic development (7:15) Woods would emphasize work force training and partner with small business and startups. He is against large companies who want to build tall towers. (9:05) Mitchell claims to have had a role in creating 33,000 jobs and $3 billion of investment. He is pleased that 5 of the top 10 financial firms in the country have a presence in Tempe. He cites 1 million square feet in the Discovery Campus.
  2. are tax breaks for development necessary? (11:10) Mitchell says yes, on a case-by-case basis (12:10) Woods says they are overused and the school districts suffer (14:10) Mitchell says the schools are always held harmless. (but how?)
  3. is there too much conflict with the state legislature? (16:05) Woods promises to work harder with the legislators (17:00) Mitchell says he is (was?) president of the Arizona League of Cities and Town, which–my comment– is a chronic opponent of the legislature (18:25) Woods cites the short-term rental issue as something that should have been resolved (19:35) Mitchell claims to have had a role in getting a working group started on that issue in the legislature.
  4. what do you regret? (20:50) Mitchell has no regrets (21:50) Woods regrets voting for the Hayden Flour Mill project, even though his vote would not have made a difference, because he was skeptical and the project is so far been a failure.
  5. this question, from the audience, about a relationship between a former council member and a developer that caused the member to recuse herself seemed inapt (24:05) Both candidates insist nothing unethical happened.
  6. climate change (27:30) Mitchell says Tempe is the 17th most bicycle-friendly city in the country, and that Tempe residents have the highest ridership on light rail in the Valley (29:15) Woods says he does not understand why the issue of a bike lane on McClintock Dr has not been resolved. He would expand the street car program. He understands why light rail is under-utilized: it doesn’t go where people want to go.
  7. alleged police misbehavior (32:10) Woods says people need a forum for expressing themselves that is not so agenda-bound as the City Council (33:40) Mitchell says he is always ready to listen.
  8. after the departure of Childsplay from the TCA, how can the TCA be better utilized? (35:05) Mitchell says the new boss, Ralph Remington, is bringing in great programs. He says the city is requiring new development to include public art (36:20) Woods says the TCA’s main theater is too small so its booking strategy must change. He would like to see a kitchen installed in the TCA bar.
  9. climate change (38:30) Mitchell says city is working with SRP to plant more trees, aims to be carbon neutral by 2035 (39:50) Woods wants to ask new development to be more sustainable, to include solar panels, rain-water harvest equipment. He also likes trees.
  10. an audience member expresses concern about 500 new parking places on the southwest corner of Broadway, adjacent to a single family residential neighborhood (43:25) Woods cites limits to development in the Vision Zero program. He notes that the Urban Core Master Plan does not yet deal with traffic issues. (45:20 Mitchell says the parking places approved were less than those proposed. He is concerned about density and supports Vision Zero. (47:55) Woods says the North Tempe Neighborhood Association wants development, so the congestion can be spread out.
  11. homelessness (49:20) Woods says more housing will alleviate permanent camps in Papago Park and aggressive pan-handling on Mill. The Housing First program has been imitated around the Valley (51:30) Mitchell cites Tempe’s Agency Review program, claims Tempe spends 32% more on human services than other Valley cities. He claims to have housed 3,000 ‘individuals and families’ in partnership with programs like Housing First, New Town, Habitat for Humanity, Eastline Village, and the Community Land Trust. (53:50) Woods says Mitchell’s 32% includes money from HUD.
  12. policing (56:00) Mitchell cites My Brother’s Keeper program (57:00) Woods calls for more, better communication
  13. is South Tempe neglected? (58:40) Mitchell cites Character Areas, the Discovery Campus where Chase has 4,500 employees. (1:00:07) Woods thinks what South Tempe residents want are lifestyle amenities. He will revitalize strip malls, to encourage more shopping in Tempe. Rural & Warner was a food desert until Tempe Public Market et al were started. He would re-use old buildings. He cites the Village Planning Committee. (1:03:20) Mitchell cites small business, such as Voodoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen.
  14. is there too much development? (1:06:45) Woods says voters must approve development plan every 10 years by a super-majority. Speculators want to build tall towers. (1:08:05) Mitchell notes Tempe is land-locked but must grow somehow (1:09:10) Woods says the city does not adequately protect neighborhoods (1:10:30) Mitchell cites denial of permit to proposed tire shop at Warner & McClintock because neighbors protested.