I received a query from a group called Democracy for America-Maricopa County asking me to suggest questions for Phoenix City Council candidates. I always try to be obliging, and this issue is of special importance.
It seems as if Council has lost its consensus and focus, virtues that were essential to the progress made with T-Gen, ASU's downtown campus, the Phoenix Convention Center and light rail (WBIYB). Nothing could be worse for the city than a right-wing takeover or blocking minority on Council. And members who think civic greatness is filling potholes and collecting trash ("listening to the neighborhoods) are not much better. Phoenix is at a critical tipping point. Here are the questions I suggested:
1. Please detail your connections to the real-estate industry: Properties you own; do you work in the industry and if so, doing what?; have you served on boards that make recommendations on land use?; have you profited from land-use decisions made by public bodies, including the approval and siting of freeways?
2. Do you support light rail, including expanding the system and adding more frequent service?
3. Do you support increasing transportation options in Phoenix with better bus service, and connecting the suburbs with commuter rail?
4. What is your position on additional annexation?
5. What is the city's role in downtown economic development?
6. What is the city's role in creating more effective economic development for Phoenix as a whole? As things stand, Phoenix keeps losing assets and jobs to the suburbs, and it lacks the headquarters companies, high-paid jobs and economic diversity of other large cities, or even many smaller ones such as Seattle, Denver and Portland.
7. Do you support expanding the downtown biomedical campus?
8. What would you do to address the problem of empty, blighted land in the Central Corridor?
I'm sure Rogue readers will have a few more to contribute in the comments field. [UPDATE: Indeed they do, and many better than the ones I asked. I invite you to read them.]