Gaylord victory margin among Mesa's highest - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Gaylord victory margin among Mesa's highest

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Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 3:43 pm | Updated: 2:13 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The result wasn't unexpected, but the margin caught everyone's attention.

Mesa voters approved $51 million in bed tax incentives for a convention center and two resorts planned for southeast Mesa by a resounding 86 percent margin, according to unofficial results announced Tuesday.

Mesa's Gaylord vote sails to victory

That's one of the biggest victories in Mesa's electoral history, one that Mayor Scott Smith termed "overwhelming" and a vote of "confidence" by Mesa voters.

John Bradley, vice president at Scottsdale's DMB Associates, which owns the Mesa proving grounds site where the projects would be built, also said Tuesday night he was "awed" by the "unexpected" margin.

The unofficial results for Proposition 300 went 40,787 votes in favor and 7,601 against.

One of the proposed resorts and a convention center would be built by Gaylord Entertainment Co. of Nashville, which has four other such properties in Florida, Maryland, Texas and Nashville.

There have been few such overwhelming margins in Mesa's history.

In March 1986, voters decided through Proposition 101 to prohibit the mayor and council members from holding any other office by an 87 percent to 13 percent margin, said Mesa spokesman Steve Wright.

Two other results in 1994 were on the high end. Proposition 100 dealt with a candidate residency requirement for city council members and the mayor, which was approved by 86 percent. Proposition 103 related to mandating public notices on council meetings. Voters approved that by 88 percent.

"They dealt with council procedural issues, but as far as bond elections or anything else, nothing has passed as significantly as this one," Wright said.

Paul Bentz, a senior account executive for HighGround, the firm that handled the Gaylord campaign, said Wednesday he believes Mesa residents saw the economic value of the projects, and also were impressed with the renderings of the Gaylord resort, released last month.

"The feedback we got through the campaign, especially from the rendering, was overwhelmingly good. The notion to see this coming to Mesa was very attractive to people," said Bentz.

The current economy had a lot to do with it, Bentz added.

People are looking for work, so the slogan of "jobs and revenue" hit home for them, Bentz said.

So much so that HighGround received about a dozen job inquiries and résumés from residents who voted "yes."

But that kind of expectation, from people who want to see these projects come to fruition, also has to be tempered with the understanding that this isn't something being whipped up tomorrow, especially in this economy.

"Many voters, when they vote 'yes,' assume projects will start tomorrow, but they also need to understand that the project, even in the ideal scenario, doesn't have to open until 2014," Bentz said.

That's the point DMB and Gaylord officials, as well as the mayor, added Tuesday, that the financial markets and the money crunch have to turn around before a definite timeline can shape up.

"DMB and Gaylord are putting in a lot of effort in their activity, but in a lot of ways it's a waiting game. We're at the mercy of the financial markets, which we hope will come to a semblance of normalcy, to ensure this project goes ahead," Smith said.

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