Council, school board races down to the wire

With just two days left until the Nov. 8 General Election, candidates in the races for Scottsdale City Council and Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board are working to get their final messages out to voters.

Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m., but those in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Scottsdale voters can cast their ballot at any location in the county – not just in Scottsdale. Polling sites can be found at locations.maricopa.vote or scottsdale.vote.

In the City Council race, Pamela Carter and Barry Graham are running for the seat being vacated by city councilwoman Linda Milhaven, who is termed out.

Council members Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead won another term their third and second terms, respectively, in the Primary Election.

Both Carter and Graham espouse slow growth and limits on new multifamily developments. Both are also active in Republican politics, but say the differences between them are stark.

Pamela Carter

Carter, 72, holds a master’s in biblical theology and communications. She is a retired business woman who co-founded a successful sports medicine and fitness facility with her then husband.

She is also a media personality, having hosted talk shows and fitness programs for cable networks and has directed and produced feature films and documentaries, some winning awards at the Houston International Film Festival.

She is also on the board of Help4Kidz, a national outreach to at-risk youth and families with a Christian focus.

She is endorsed by business owner and former candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction Shiry Sapir and state Sen. Nancy Barto, as well as several candidates for state offices. She also says she has the endorsement of Charlie Kirk, co-founder of Turning Point USA – a conservative student out reach program.

“I feel very confident in my win,” Carter said. “I have tremendous support from churches, the faith community as well as the Jewish community.”

She says her experience working with people sets her apart from Graham.

“I think I have a diverse outlook,” Carter said. “I haven’t just been on boards and commissions. I’ve worked with people.”

For instance, as program manager for religious television station KPAZ in Phoenix, she did things like run a food box program for the less fortunate and reached out to Latinos in her work with the Republican Party.

Her top issue is stopping “out of control growth, the high rise, high density apartments."

“Right now we have 10,000 apartments that have already been approved,” she said.

She also wants to ensure public safety is fully funded, saying, “We are right now 35 officers short,” but would not say how she would increase that funding.

Her third top priority is to address homelessness and panhandling in town by working with the faith community. She emphasized she does not support building a homeless shelter here.

Barry Graham

Graham, 37, and his wife Farrah and have twin boys. He has lived in Scottsdale for 26 years. He has a master’s in accounting from the University of Massachusetts and a bachelor’s in economics and international relations from Boston University. He is a certified public accountant with a local accounting firm.

Graham is endorsed by former council member Paul Messinger, the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale, Treasurer Jim Davis, current council members Betty Janik and Kathy Littlefield, city Planning Commissioner Barney Gonzales, Protect Our Preserve President Howard Myers, Scottsdale Development Review Board Member Michal Joyner and state Rep. Joseph Chaplik.

He has spent 10 years on several city boards commissions including the transportation commission and the planning commission. He has stated repeatedly that makes him the more experienced candidate.

“I’m feeling very confident, feeling very good about the response we’re getting to our message,” Graham said. “I’m feeling very good about the support we’re getting. It seems like our message is resonating with a lot of people.

“People like my voting record; they like that I have an extensive voting record they can look at. They like my endorsements. They like that I have been endorsed by a couple of council women.”

Graham, whose campaign slogan is “Residents First,” has three top issues beyond limiting growth.

One is “managing short-term rental bad actors.” He likes the amendment to the short-term rental policy requiring owner/operators to register with the city.

He would have liked to see violations tied to the house instead of the legal entity that owns it to avoid a scenario where a deed could simply be transferred and the violations keep occurring. He would also like to see a limit to the number of short-term rentals in a particular area, but state law does not allow for either scenario.

Graham also wants to increase public safety spending and said he would do that through federal grants and retaining police officers so less overtime, which is very costly, is necessary.

“And the fourth would be efficient government spending … I’m a certified public accountant and I plan to ask the tough questions about our spending to make sure we’re getting efficient government,” he said.

That is particularly important as a recession might be right around the corner, he said.

SUSD Governing Board

Five candidates are running for two open seats on the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board.

Amy Carney Mary Gaudio, Andrea Keck, Rob Vaules and Carine Werner are seeking to replace Jann-Michael Greenburg and Patty Beckman, whjo opted not to run again.

Carney, a freelance writer, has six children, all of whom either graduated from SUSD schools or currently attend them.

“Running for school board in Scottsdale Unified is an extension of her current mission of strengthening children, families, education and community,” her website says.

Her top issue is improving academics in the district

“Let’s get back to strengthening our students in the basics of reading, writing, and math and keep divisive ideologies and political propaganda out of the classrooms,” she sates.

Gaudio, 55, is a retired advertising agent who has lived in the district for seven years. She has adult children who did not attend SUSD schools.

She has served as a PTA president in the Plano Independent School District, in Texas. She was also a board member of the Plano Independent School District Council of PTAs. She served three years as a substitute teacher in Texas as well.

She was on the leadership council of Playworks of Arizona and a mentor and girls’ circle facilitator for New Pathways for Youth.

“Our neighborhood schools were really our lifeline,” she said.

School funding is a top issue for Gaudio, who vows to advocate for more state money.

Keck, 64, is married with three children, none of whom attended SUSD. She graduated in the top 1% of her class at Indiana University School of Business with a bachelor’s of science. She also has an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Keck is a retired marketing professional and the founder of DreamRoads, a program that helps middle school and high school age kids identify possible career paths.

She has volunteered with T.J. Pappas Schools for Homeless Children, the Cave Creek Unified School District and Boys Hope Girls Hope. She was also on the board of Protect Our Preserve, which challenged development in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Her top priority if elected is academic achievement.

“I am the only candidate who from the very beginning has had academic achievement as their top priority … we have 40% of our middle school students are not at grade level in English, 51% are not at grade level in math, 46% of the students did not pass math on the ACT (college entrance) exam,” she said. “I mean, we have serious problems.

She also wants to streamline the district’s finances, for which her experience running a large-scale enterprise makes her the ideal candidate, she said.

Vaules, 58, is married and the father of a special needs student in the district. He is the senior vice president for marketing and sales with a telemedicine practice. 

Vaules is president of the board for the Arizona Center for Disability Law. He also serves on the Scottsdale Parent Council and the site committee at Desert Mountain High School.

“I have spent the last 14 years struggling with our district to provide services for my son that are appropriate for what his needs are.

Vaules said his top priority would be to be a voice of reason and support and protect this district, teachers, staff and administration.

Werner is a mother of three. She and her husband own a real estate investment and development consultancy. 

Her website says, “I go to the board meetings, even the ones no one else goes to. I meet with administrators and review curriculum at the district office. I know where the bad curriculum is and who the bad actors are … we need a massive intervention in Scottsdale.

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