The early days of Scottsdale politics

The recent flurry of presidential candidate announcements made me think back to my own political service. I don’t think most people who seek political office thought much about a political career in their early 20s or the beginning of their work career. I sure never did.

In the mid-1960s, Scottsdale’s Mayor Bud Tims asked me to participate in a yearlong program designed to educate approximately 100 Scottsdale citizens about good community planning. The course was taught by the Brookings Institute one day per month.

We studied city parks, sewer systems, well-designed streets, schools, culture and municipal buildings. We learned how these elements work together to make a great city.

It was very enlightening and particularly appropriate for Scottsdale, since we were still a small town just starting to grow.

The following year Scottsdale established STEP committees — Scottsdale Town Enrichment Project — to study our community’s needs.

I was asked to chair a STEP committee whose mission was to secure a community college for Scottsdale. I also served on the STEP committee that was focused on locating the city’s proposed city hall and main library.

The STEP committee to locate the city hall and library just took a couple months to complete its work. But the committee to get us a community college took nearly half a decade. It involved monthly STEP meetings and attendance at every Maricopa County Community College Board meeting in Phoenix for all of those five years.

We used the best talent from our municipal staff, along with countless hours of volunteer committee members’ time to study the issues and move the project forward.

In the end, the Maricopa Community College District obtained land on the Salt River Pima/Maricopa community for the college. We also helped pass a countywide bond issue election that included money for our new college as well as other Maricopa County colleges.

Scottsdale Community College was established in the fall of 1970.

Later that year, Vice Mayor Ken Murray took a new job that necessitated him resigning from political service. The council selected me to finish Ken’s council term and appointed a new vice mayor. That’s how I entered political life.

The following year I successfully ran for a full four-year term, serving from 1971-75.

On the dais at Scottsdale’s city hall I was seated between Councilman Herb Drinkwater and Councilman Heinz Hink. Both were great guys but as different as night is to day. I learned a lot from each of them.

Other councilpersons were Dick Campana, Bill Jenkins, Billie Gentry and Mayor Tims.

In 1974, Bud Tims successfully ran for a seat on the Corporation Commission. Bill Jenkins became mayor, and Charlie Smith was appointed to fill Bill’s seat. I didn’t run in 1975.

The community had strong successes in those days. Issues we worked on included the McCormick Ranch planned community, punching Hayden Road through to the Arizona Canal, developing Indian Bend Wash as a greenbelt project, Scottsdale Plaza and the performing arts center, passing Scottsdale’s strict sign ordinance and starting our municipal airport.

From 1976-79, I served on Scottsdale’s first Airport Commission under Chairman Bill Arthur. In 1979 I was elected to finish David Kret’s term in the Arizona State House of Representatives. I was reelected to two additional two-year terms.

Most folks who enter politics never planned to do so. They just got too close to the edge … and slipped.

Reared in Scottsdale, Paul Messinger founded Messinger Mortuaries in 1959. Reach him at 480-860-2300 or 480-945-9521.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2015/06/25/early-days-scottsdale-politics-cbt/29116419/