What Would Herb Have Said?

It’s hard to imagine The Honorable Herbert R. “Herb” Drinkwater’s last day as Mayor of Scottsdale was more than 18 years ago! Many of us were privileged to know Herb personally…all of us called him our friend. Before retiring, he achieved an extraordinary 96 percent approval rating from his constituents …and fretted endlessly “…why don’t the other four percent like me?”

Herb is remembered for leading many visionary achievements as Mayor, but he never lost his inherent sense of humor, modesty, exuberance for life and genuine concern for the well-being of those around him. His infectious enthusiasm for and dedication to his community made him a natural and highly effective “ambassador” for the City of Scottsdale. He helped persuade countless businesses to locate in Scottsdale, including the world famous Mayo Clinic.

With all the remarkable effects Herb had on the place we all love as our home, does anyone still remember the message from his sixteenth and final State of The City address?

herbThat year’s Super Bowl theme was “City of Good Sports,” so the Mayor went out of his way to recognize the “good sports”who worked tirelessly for the City of Scottsdale. He praised the many citizens who were “good sports” making Scottsdale great by giving hours of hard work to: the Indian Bend Wash, the strong medical community, the Center for the Arts and thriving arts districts, the redevelopment of downtown and what he believed to be his last year’s finest effort…passage of the first sales tax for the McDowell Mountain Preserve.

But the principal theme of his address? Civility!

Herb was beginning to witness a less civil dialogue and remarked, “Militancy and nastiness just do not belong in Scottsdale.”He spoke passionately of the need to behave with civility, agreeing at times to disagree, treating everybody with the respect they deserve.

As only a head coach can do after a 16-year winning streak, he gave his team advice for the future. He reminded everyone, the most important characteristic of any team is the ability to rebuild year after year. “We will continue to need ‘good sports,’ people who are involved, determined, compassionate, responsible and civil,” he said.

Fast-forward to April 29, 2014 when our current Council listened to a presentation from economic development consultant Ioanna Morfessis, President of IO, Inc. She shared the compiled opinions of 300 of our public, private and civic leaders whose candid recital of Scottsdale’s weaknesses included divisiveness in government, lack of vision, public/citizen vitriol and arrogance. Each of these are viewed as stumbling blocks to the future of economic development. Repeated bond failures are seen as a threat to our community’s future health. Lack of vision and divisiveness among city officials and residents “…are a huge source of heartburn for people who care about Scottsdale,” Morfessis said.

One of the principal opportunities these public, private and civic leaders identified? Increase civility!

It is with great sadness we realize our city had drifted even further away from what Herb yearned for in his last State of the City Address…a city of moving forward with great vision and respectful civility. I believe vision and civility can be restored and pledge to do my part to make that happen. I ask for your vote and your support in the upcoming Council elections.