Scarp: Manross' claim of partisan bias doesn't hold up - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Scarp: Manross' claim of partisan bias doesn't hold up

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Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2008 8:40 pm | Updated: 9:18 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

As debate over why-Obama-won (or why-McCain-lost) finally began to die down this week, as final results of the Scottsdale mayoral race at last were known Thursday, residents were able to turn to a fresh conjecturing over why-Jim-Lane-won (or why-Mary-Manross-lost).

Lane sets agenda for Scottsdale mayor’s role

First, let's hear from the vanquished incumbent herself. In her statement Wednesday, right after the issuing of which she lame-ducked into a meeting in downtown Phoenix that lasted all afternoon, Manross blamed her defeat in part to the Legislature moving city elections in Scottsdale and Chandler from spring to fall "for partisan purposes."

Manross didn't elaborate further other than to criticize what she said were resulting "daily, partisan attack ads in an officially nonpartisan city election."

Yes, it's true that tens of thousands more votes were cast for Scottsdale mayor this year than four years ago, meaning a lot of people voted who had an opinion about Scottsdale's city government, but sadly (and I'm not excusing them), they don't care enough to bring themselves to the polls in the spring.

Coalition of Pinnacle Peak president Bob Vairo noted the increased turnouts in a letter to the Tribune we received Thursday. He went on to say that, essentially, all this Obama-McCain stuff rendered an overwhelming number of Scottsdale voters incapable of doing anything but voting a party line - enough, ostensibly, to elect Lane, a Republican, over Manross, a Democrat, though neither was so identified on the ballot.

"By linking Scottsdale's election to a national election, voter attention was diverted from city concerns and issues to partisan politics," Vairo wrote.

"It does not augur well for the future to have changed such local decisions from a focused, Scottsdale-oriented election, to one influenced largely by political party turf wars and not the qualifications of the candidate or important city issues."

Sorry. If there's one thing that most Scottsdale voters didn't know, it was the party affiliations of the two candidates in the Nov. 4 mayoral runoff. Politically savvy people who attend City Council meetings, such as Vairo, know such facts as a matter of course. But go ahead and walk into a Scottsdale grocery store and ask people if they know for sure, not just as a guess, whether Manross is a Democrat or a Republican.

Most voters (again, sadly) saw only TV commercials, fliers and ads, most of which had no partisan references. Most did not, regrettably, see newspaper articles where the candidates' voter registrations were occasionally mentioned, and rather far down the page.

In short, the vast majority of people who cared about who won the mayoral election voted on personality, or voted on issues, or they didn't vote at all.

And don't forget that other nonpartisan offices are decided on November ballots, with plenty of votes cast by people whose attention was not "diverted from city concerns and issues to partisan politics":

Scottsdale school board. Community college and water district board. And all those judges.

So, why did Lane win? Simply because enough people, and barely enough, wanted a new mayor.

From the beginning, this column has spoken about how the race was Manross' to lose, and even without setting forth much of an agenda for a third term and relying almost exclusively on Scottsdale's many blessings, Manross-caused or not, she nearly didn't lose.

Lane is for budgetary reform, more openness and accountability. Manross had more of a trust-me approach: You like things, pretty much? Then stick with me.

Not enough voters did.

Read Mark Scarp's blog, Scarpsdale, at http://blogs.evtrib.com.

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