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Five mayoral candidates debate for 1st time

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Posted: Saturday, May 7, 2011 9:00 am

Phoenix residents were able to get a better feel for candidates for mayor as all five squared off at the Citizens for Phoenix Debate Tuesday night.

Education, the budget, subsidies, transparency, public safety, the arts, jobs, development and renewable energy were all discussed in two rounds of questioning.

Libertarian Thane Eichenauer aimed to define the role of government and cut what is not needed. He sighted a report that said the city of Phoenix had 714 officers that were not needed. He noted cutting back officers as one of his main goals.

"I think the other candidates are all just trying to dance around the fact that they either support the current level of police staffing or they want to have an adult conversation with the employees," Eichenauer said. "I'm all in favor of being gradual and being open and straight forward with the current employees at the city of Phoenix, but I certainly do think that if we have 714 too many police officers that we really do need to cut back. If the report says that we don't need 714 police officers than it's irresponsible to keep employing that many."

Lobbyist Wes Gullett mentioned job creation, safe neighborhoods and an affordable government. He focused his answers on bringing different groups together and discussing the issues face to face to find the best solution, rather than depending on studies the city is doing now.

"I think we need new leadership," Gullett said during the debate. "I think we need leadership with new ideas."

City Councilman Claude Mattox relied on his position as a city councilman, citing what the council was already doing to better the city and his plans to continue those efforts.

"With our strong neighborhoods and our quality schools we'll be able to attract career jobs and retain good jobs that we have here," Mattox said.

City Councilwoman Peggy Neely agreed with Mattox on some issues, also citing what she was already doing, but her arguments were based on her original goals.

"I am pleased with the results of the debate," Neely said in a written statement on Wednesday. "It was a wonderful opportunity to share ‘The Phoenix We Want' with the citizens and my vision for more jobs, a balanced budget, and increased transparency. Most importantly, I had fun."

Former City Councilman Greg Stanton, a past representative of Ahwatukee Foothills, promoted more public safety, stronger neighborhoods and more arts, but also put a priority on increasing the density of Phoenix's downtown.

"I think it was a good indicator of where candidate priorities are," Stanton said. "I think some of the candidates are trying to make a distinction between the outskirts of town and downtown. Investment in the heart of the city doesn't take away from what's going on in the outer neighborhoods and outer reaches of the city. In fact, people in Ahwatukee Foothills support a great downtown. They understand how important that is for a great city."

Citizens for Phoenix, the group that put on the event, is an umbrella organization aiming to get more awareness of issues in the city.

"We're doing this today because it's terrible in the sixth largest city in the country only 11 percent of the people vote," said Ann Malone of the Indian School Corridor Citywide Coalition, one of the founders of Citizens for Phoenix. "We're going to try and change that."

For more information on Citizens for Phoenix, visit

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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