Former Scottsdale Treasurer Enters City Council Race

press-1David Smith says his experience as a longtime resident, former city treasurer and a former business owner gives him an upper hand in the race for Scottsdale City Council.

Smith, who is retired, is the latest candidate to file papers forming a candidate’s campaign committee.

The seats of incumbents Bob Littlefield, Linda Milhaven and Dennis Robbins expire in early 2015. A primary election is Aug. 26 and a general election is Nov. 4.

As of March 11, there were eight potential candidates in the race. A ninth contender, immigration attorney Jose Penalosa, said he plans to terminate his candidacy in Scottsdale. Instead, Penalosa said he plans to run for the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., who announced his retirement in February. The race for the seat is expected to draw many candidates for the district, representing much of south and central Phoenix.

The Scottsdale Council hopefuls are business owner Michael Auerbach; non-profit executive Cindy Hill; computer-company treasurer Kathy Littlefield; former school board President Jennifer Petersen; and merchandiser Gregory Weisman. Milhaven and Robbins are seeking re-election. To be on the ballot, candidates must file nomination papers and other forms with the Scottsdale City Clerk’s Office by 5 p.m. May 28. At least 1,000 valid signatures are required.

Smith retired as Scottsdale’s city treasurer in July. His replacement is Jeff Nichols, former chief financial officer and vice president of the Scottsdale Cultural Council.

Smith said the fiscal integrity and sustainability of Scottsdale are an important platform in his campaign.

“One of the most important things any councilman or councilwoman is supposed to do is spend the citizen tax money wisely,” he said.

“And I think the best chance you have of spending it wisely is to have somebody who has a career of financial decision making at a very senior level, which is what I’ve done, and also somebody who has been a resident of the city for as many [years] as I have,” he said.

Smith moved to Scottsdale in 1986. Before becoming city treasurer, he worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority and Amtrak. In 1986, Smith and his wife, Diana, bought Scottsdale Airpark News, a neighborhood newspaper, he said. They owned it for about 10 years, growing it to about 150 pages and a monthly circulation of about 30,000, he said. It is still in existence. “It did give us a real sensitivity to what a small-business operator in Scottsdale deals with on a daily basis,” Smith said.

Smith also has been vocal about his support for reinvesting in the city’s capital infrastructure, which includes everything from buildings to roads. He endorsed the city’s November bond election, which failed by an average of 18 percentage points.

Smith said he wants to build on the livability of Scottsdale. He said it’s about “making sure we protect the cachet of the city” by “protecting and caring for the reputation of the city, because that’s what makes us all enjoy living here, and it’s also what makes people come here as tourists.

“I’m going to try and be sensitive to those things that improve the livability of the city, because the livability for all of us will translate into making it an interesting place to visit …”

by Beth Duckett, The Arizona Republic, March 13, 2014.