The first – and possibly only – joint appearance in Ahwatukee of both City Council candidates for the seat representing the community will be held tonight, July 26, at Mountain Park Community Church.
Incumbent Sal DiCiccio and challenger Kevin Patterson will square off in an hour-long forum sponsored by the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce and the Ahwatukee Foothills News starting at 6 p.m., following a public reception for the two candidates that starts at 5:30 p.m. at the church, 24th Street and Pecos Road.
Audience members will have an opportunity during the forum to submit questions in writing to moderators. Questions also have been submitted in advance by chamber members and AFN readers.
The general moderator for the event is chamber President/CEO Lindy Lutz Cash.
The event was moved to the larger church venue from the Ahwatukee Activity Center after more than 100 people indicated they planned to attend, Cash said.
Chamber member Harvey Gibson will be the forum moderator, asking questions that will be screened by the AFN and Nick Knight, who chairs the chamber’s public policy committee.
Gibson is the business development officer at Landings Credit Union, one of the chamber’s founding member businesses. The Kansas City, Missouri, native also is a former chairman of the chamber’s board of directors and is active in a number of nonprofit organizations.
The forum is intended to be a civil discourse between DiCiccio, an Ahwatukee resident who is seeking his third consecutive term, and Patterson, a Central Phoenix resident who spent most of his childhood in Ahwatukee.
Both candidates have already been advised of the ground rules for the forum.
Among those rules is that they may not interrupt each other and should treat each other in a courteous, professional and respectful manner.
The audience will be asked to hold any applause until the end and refrain from any interruptions or disruptions during the event.
No direct questions from the audience will be allowed. Instead, audience members will be provided with cards to write their questions and may then signal to have the cards picked up by one of the Chamber Ambassadors.
Each candidate will have two minutes for an opening statement and another two minutes for closing remarks. They will be limited to one minute for answering any question, with their opponent allowed a 30-second rebuttal when called for.
A timing light will be provided and operated by members of the Ahwatukee Chamber Toastmasters. The timing lights will be demonstrated for the candidates during the introductions.
Additionally, Ahwatukee American Legion Post 64 will lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the beginning of the forum.
While DiCiccio lives in Ahwatukee with his wife and two daughters, Patterson is an Ahwatukee native who now lives in Central Phoenix with his partner and their two daughters.
Election Day is Aug. 29 with early voting beginning on Aug. 2. If neither candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will head into a runoff election in November.
DiCiccio is seeking his third four-year term on Council and would be termed out if he were to win again. He also served two terms, between 1994 and 2002, before he again sought the seat in 2009.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, DiCiccio relocated with his family in 1962 to the Valley, where he attended Tempe High School.
Patterson made Arizona history several years ago when he and his partner were married in the state’s first gay wedding.
His campaign website boasts of having “first-hand experience in the importance of neighborhood safety, community programs and access to city services to our most vulnerable populations.”
Director of Banner Health’s leadership development, Patterson is president of Equality Arizona, a group that advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Though his website does not make any promises specific to Ahwatukee, he pledges to “empower small businesses and entrepreneurs with local financing opportunities,” “retain university talent by making Phoenix an affordable and attractive city to live in,” “increase resident access and awareness of parks, libraries, and community centers” and “ensure efficiency by reducing waste and investing savings in our neighborhoods.”
Ahwatukee residents who have not registered to vote can go to servicearizona.com. Voters who are not on the permanent early ballot list and want to vote by mail can call 602-261-8683 to request a ballot. The city also will have in-person early voting available on the 15th floor of City Hall.