Scottsdale joins East Valley Partnership, despite concerns from mayor

Scottsdale is the latest city to join the East Valley Partnership, a coalition of local leaders devoted to promoting the region, despite concerns from Mayor Jim Lane that it could dilute Scottsdale’s hard-earned brand.

In its first meeting with two new council members Tuesday, the Scottsdale City Council narrowly agreed to pay $3,750 to join the non-profit business coalition for six months.

The “trial” membership lasts until June 30, after which the council could decide to extend the city’s membership.

“This is really a small investment to kind of test the water to obtain a better understanding of what we can gain from it and what is out there,” Councilwoman Virginia Korte said.

Not all elected officials were convinced. Lane expressed concerns that joining the coalition, whose municipal members include Mesa, Chandler and Tempe, could dilute the Scottsdale brand that city leaders have worked hard to cultivate.

Vice Mayor Guy Phillips and Council members Kathy Littlefield, Linda Milhaven and Korte favored joining the coalition. Lane and Council members Suzanne Klapp and David Smith were opposed.

Tuesday marked the first meeting for Littlefield and Smith, who were elected in November along with Milhaven, who began a second term.

Lane said Scottsdale probably brings “a lot to the table” for the association.

“We sacrifice maybe our label, maybe our reputation,” he said. “We homogenize ourselves with a group that maybe has very different interests and very different tactics in how they employ that.”

But Councilwoman Linda Milhaven said the city is not committing itself to “anything other than being at the table to exchange ideas.”

“As soon as we think we are the smartest city in the world with all the answers, I think we are doomed,” Milhaven said. “We have to keep our minds open to brainstorming and new ideas.”

Mike Hutchinson, East Valley Partnership project manager, said members “are very sensitive to the individual identities that exist in the communities.”

Formed in the 1980s, the East Valley Partnership is made up of civic, business, educational and political leaders dedicated to the economic development and promotion of the region. Its guiding philosophy is, “We check our egos at the door, roll up our sleeves and get to work improving the East Valley, without worrying about who gets the credit.”

After the inauguration of incoming council members, elected officials pledged to work together even if they disagree.

“Will we always agree? Certainly not,” Lane said. “But I do believe it’s a good collective vision of the different perspectives that will provide citizens with the balance and forward thinking that has been Scottsdale’s legacy.”

Milhaven said, “While we may disagree, I think there are many things we agree about. And we should start many of our conversations there.”

Littlefield said members “need to work together as a council for the betterment of all of Scottsdale,” including north, central and south.

Littlefield and Smith replaced outgoing Councilmen Dennis Robbins and Bob Littlefield, Kathy Littlefield’s husband.

Next meeting

The Scottsdale City Council will meet again at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13 in the City Hall Kiva Forum, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

Quotable

Here is what local leaders said about Scottsdale’s membership in the East Valley Partnership:

“We think we offer benefits and advocacy on issues, but we also know the city of Scottsdale brings many significant assets we can hopefully promote and improve the economic climate of the East Valley.” – Mike Hutchinson, East Valley Partnership project manager, and a former Mesa city manager.

“It sounds to me like it’s worth a try.” – Scottsdale Vice Mayor Guy Phillips.

“I’m not sure I want to dilute the Scottsdale brand with whatever brand you’re developing for the East Valley. We have a pretty good brand here, and we’re pretty jealous about protecting it.” – Scottsdale Councilman David Smith.

“Most people in our community would be concerned about potentially diluting, to say the least, but also putting us into a sameness bucket. If that’s lofty, I apologize for that. But we’re all here to represent the interests of the city of Scottsdale, first and foremost.” – Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2015/01/07/scottsdale-joins-east-valley-partnership-despite-concerns-mayor/21393761/