Jennifer Petersen: Scottsdale needs to keep pursuing big ideas

Scottsdale was built by people who dreamed big and had the audacity to transform those dreams into reality. It’s part of our DNA.

Just think about the visionaries who built the Indian Bend Wash. It could have been a cookie-cutter, concrete ditch, but instead it’s a haven for bikers, walkers, joggers and golfers. Scottsdale voters approved the creation of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, protecting one-third of the city’s most pristine land from development. And it’s tough to imagine Scottsdale not hosting the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Golf fans flock to the “Greatest Show on Grass” every January because city leaders had the foresight to build the Tournament Players Club.

Yes, Scottsdale was built by residents with big ideas. I will serve in that tradition if elected to City Council.

We have another opportunity to be bold: The pending merger of Arizona State University and the Thunderbird School of Global Management presents an incredible opportunity to bring the international business school to the McDowell Road corridor. The proximity to SkySong, the Arizona State University Innovation Center at Scottsdale and McDowell roads, as well as ASU’s Tempe and downtown Phoenix campuses, is ideal. SkySong, home to an array of startup technology firms, could offer internships and jobs for Thunderbird students and graduates. The potential for a true innovation corridor offers a natural link between our vibrant Old Town and a growing hot spot for knowledge workers. This could help bring the next generation of young, game-changing innovators to our southern gateway.

Scottsdale needs to be at the table to help make this idea a reality. Only time will tell if this will happen. But it certainly won’t happen if we don’t have leaders who don’t dream big and have a positive outlook for our great city.

Scottsdale has a great brand, but it is not an island and its lofty status is not guaranteed. I’ll work every day to build a better Scottsdale. While “Just Say No” might be a catchy slogan for an anti-drug campaign, it doesn’t help keep Scottsdale’s incredible quality of life. The perception of Scottsdale must change from a “City of No” to a “City of Go.”

Of course, we must have great public schools to truly be a great city of the 21st century. Like I’ve said on the campaign trail, we cannot have an A+ economy without A+ schools.

As president of the Scottsdale school board, we worked together to overcome a horrible recession and manage a budget of $175 million while remaining a top-rated school district and cutting administrative costs by 21 percent during my last four years on the board. I am the only non-incumbent candidate with experience as an elected official who had to make tough decisions from the dais.

As the great Gen. Douglas MacArthur once said: “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”

That quote is my guiding star to public service.

Jennifer Petersen, who served two terms on the Scottsdale Unified School District governing board (2004-12), is a candidate for Scottsdale City Council.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2014/10/28/scottsdale-needs-keep-pursuing-big-ideas/18072995/