Protect Phoenix from lobbyist control - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

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Protect Phoenix from lobbyist control

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Chase Williams

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Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 4:00 pm

As Americans watch Congress debate issues of policy year after year, one thing is always clear: Lobbyists and special interests hold too much control over the legislative process in Washington and are instrumental in the construction of bad policy.

Unfortunately for Phoenicians, mayoral candidate Wes Gullett does not recognize the damage that lobbyist-controlled politicians can have on the processes of government. Gullett has long-standing financial ties with the lobbyist firm FirstStrategic, which is active in local, state and federal governments. For the past nine months of his candidacy, Gullett has failed to acknowledge the conflict of interest that would exist if he were elected mayor, and continued to hold this financial relationship. It was not until Gullett faced a severe backlash from his evasive answer concerning his lobbyist ties in the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Debate that he has decided to divest himself from FirstStrategic. Even still, Gullett has refused to sign the "No Lobbyists in the Mayor's Office" pledge, championed by fellow candidate Greg Stanton, to prevent any financial gain from lobbying interests by the mayor's staff or household following election to the office.

It is wrong for citizens of Phoenix to have to wonder if their mayor is working in their best interests, or if he is working on behalf of a lobbyist firm or special interest movement from which he stands to benefit financially.

Over the course of this campaign, Gullett has made clear that he will only denounce a clear conflict of interest if the conflict threatens his election as mayor. That is not the type of mayor that Phoenix needs as it faces some of its toughest challenges - rebuilding the economy, creating new jobs to put Phoenicians back to work, and ensuring that education in our city continues to be a beacon of hope and opportunity.

There is one candidate running for mayor of Phoenix who has consistently stood up against the special interests, shown vision in his plan to bring jobs to Phoenix, and led on the issue of education, ensuring that the children of Phoenix receive the foundation they need to thrive and prosper. That candidate is Greg Stanton. As voters go to Phoenix's new voting centers to select our city's next mayor, I urge you to support the man who will not be bought by lobbyists or special interests, who will stand up for the interests of every Phoenix citizen to support economic growth and education, and who believes in the greatness of this city. A vote for Stanton is a vote for a stronger Phoenix - together, we can make this city great.

• Chase Williams is a senior at Arizona State University, majoring in political science. He is treasurer of the Maricopa County Working Young Democrats and a precinct captain for the Foothills Precinct.

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