David Ortega Looks Set To Become Next Scottsdale Mayor

Published: Monday, November 9, 2020 - 11:42am
Updated: Monday, November 9, 2020 - 11:51am
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MARK BRODIE: Some of the most contentious races in Maricopa County took place in Scottsdale. Former city council members David Ortega and Lisa Borowsky squared off in the mayor's race, and it was mired in accusations of inappropriate campaign contributions and deference to developers. The race has not been called yet, but Ortega is tracking to win at this point. Joining us to parse this out is Wayne Schutsky, managing editor for the Scottsdale Progress. Hi, Wayne.

WAYNE SCHUTSKY: Hi. How are you doing?

BRODIE: Doing all right. So as of [Nov. 8], you reported that to David Ortega is on track to win the Scottsdale's mayor's race. Where is the count now and how assured is Ortega that he will win?

SCHUTSKY: So Ortega is up by exactly 6,000 votes as of the latest update [Nov. 8] over Lisa Borowsky. She has closed the gap fairly significantly since Election Day when she was trailing by 11,000 votes after that first batch of results came out. But it's still looking like there's not an easy path to victory for her. There's only about 30 to 40,000 ballots left countywide, and we don't know how many of those are left in Scottsdale. And in the most recent update, which included 7,000 ballots from around the county, she only gained 32 votes on Ortega. So he looks like he will be Scottsdale's next mayor.

BRODIE: So assuming the numbers hold, how much of a departure from the current mayor, Jim Lane, would a Mayor Ortega be?

SCHUTSKY: I think you could say it's a fairly significant departure. You know, Mayor Lane is, is a Republican. He's got a libertarian streak. Ortega is or was a Democrat for a long time. He's now an independent. But he's much more, I think I would say, skeptical of developers of, of that kind of thing than the city council has been under Lane in the past few years, where they were much more willing to give some concessions and, you know, development deals that maybe some residents weren't so fond of.

BRODIE: Any sense of what the major issues in this race were? I mean, we mentioned that both Ortega and Lisa Borowsky are former council members. Both have been active in politics for a little while. What seemed to, to turn the race here?

SCHUTSKY: So they both have similar platforms, actually. And one of it, things had to do with development. Like I just mentioned, a lot of folks had mentioned dissatisfaction with the current council's willingness to approve greater heights, greater densities, certain deals with developers, paybacks for infrastructure, that kind of thing. And so both Borowsky and Ortega ran on platforms that they wanted to return a voice to residents in development deals. That being said, I think Borowsky's decision to lean really into her Republican Party affiliation may have actually hurt her because it allowed Ortega to take that message and build a little bit of a broader coalition among Democrats, independents and Republicans versus just kind of sticking with a single party base.

BRODIE: So is Ortega actively working on a transition at this point? Is he waiting to, to see the final results?

SCHUTSKY: No, he's, he's active. I spoke to him last week, a day or two after the first results came in, and he said he's already had discussions with Lane and he's also had discussions with the individual winners in the city council election that, for three seats there.

BRODIE: So let's talk quickly about the city council election. Three new members who will be joining the city council in the new year. How does this makeup differ from what we've seen in the past for Scottsdale?

SCHUTSKY: So you're going to see a pretty significant shift in philosophy. As I mentioned, development was a huge deal. And along with Ortega, Betty Jan — Betty Janik and Tom Durham, two of the winners, were involved in a fight against Southbridge II, a big development downtown that ended up going away after residents came out against it with a referendum. Also on the current council, we've got Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead, who are involved with Durham and Janik in the Prop. 420 fight a few years ago to keep development out of the mountain preserve. So you're going to see a council that is much more skeptical of developers, much more reticent to give these kind of concessions to developers than the council has been in recent years.

BRODIE: All right. We'll have to leave it there. That is Wayne Schutsky, managing editor of the Scottsdale Progress. Wayne, thank you.

SCHUTSKY: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

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