Though the 2020 mayoral election is well over a year away, Scottsdale voters now have a clearer picture as to who will be vying for the title of the city’s top elected official.
There is still plenty of time for others to throw their hats in the ring, but right now the election is shaping up to be a two-woman race between Councilmembers Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte.
Klapp, who has served on the City Council since 2009, filed an amended statement of organization on March 20 indicating her interest in running for mayor in 2020.
Korte, in her second term on the council, got a head start by filing her amended statement of organization in January 2018.
Mayor Jim Lane, who is termed out, is not surprised to see the 2020 election activity crop up this early.
“Frankly, in this day and age it seems we’re in constant campaign mode,” Lane said. “It may seem early but the way things transpired in last year and a half, it doesn’t seem as unusual to actually go out there at this point in time.”
The two potential candidates did not surprise Lane either.
“I think they are both good potential candidates,” Lane said. “I think Virginia has certainly looked at this as her (goal) for a long time.”
Lane added, “I encouraged Councilwoman Klapp to consider a run, so I feel strongly she is a very good candidate for the position.”
The early movement towards 2020 will undoubtedly raise eyebrows for some citizens as the Scottsdale City Charter requires incumbents not in the final year of their existing term to resign “before offering (themselves) for nomination or election to any salaried local, state or federal office.”
However, the documents filed by Klapp and Korte do not count as official declarations that they are running for mayor, City Clerk Carolyn Jagger said.
Rather, they are simply required campaign finance documents that allow individuals considering a run to begin raising money.
“(They) just filed a statement of organizations; that is all,” Jagger said. “In fact, all (they) did was amend one (they) already had. So they are allowed to do that. In fact, you’re required by law to do that.”
Klapp was careful to emphasize that she is not announcing her candidacy and that this just lets the public know she is considering running.
Korte’s committee includes the word “exploratory” in the name.
Korte said that she formed the committee early “to make my intentions known, because I think that is important for our community.”
“It also gives you an entrée to introduce yourself to people you don’t know, and talk to people about issues outside of the political issue de jour,” Korte said.
Both Klapp and Korte acknowledged that forming their committees early also gives them the opportunity to gauge community support and raise the funds necessary to finance a potential future campaign.
“There are several things you can do by filing paperwork early,” Klapp said. “It allows you to start raising funds as well as, when the forms are available, you can start collecting signatures.”
Korte expressed a similar sentiment.
“I’m also able to go out and raise the money for the campaign in 2020 and that is important, too,” Korte said. “Of course, you can’t get elected without financial support from the community.”
Jagger said those activities would not constitute a violation of the Charter.
She said it would be a violation if one or both of the potential candidates submitted paperwork to have their name put on the ballot prior to resigning or entering their final year in office.
Jagger said that paperwork is different than the statement of organization forms Klapp and Korte submitted.
“(A statement of organization form) has to do with collecting and spending money. That’s why you have to do that – because the public has a right to know where that money comes from,” Jagger said.
Jagger said both Klapp and Korte will enter the final year of their current terms in January of 2020, at which point they can put their names on the ballot well ahead of the state-imposed deadline to file.
Jagger also said potential candidates are not allowed to submit an official announcement of an intention to run for mayor before the final year of their current term.
Neither Korte nor Klapp told the Progress that they are running for mayor.
“All I can tell you is I am in a period of considering running,” Klapp said.