(Editor's note: This is the sixth in a series of columns from Allison Hurtado talking to representatives of the candidates running for Phoenix mayor in the Aug. 30 election.)
The last resident on my quest to find an Ahwatukee Foothills volunteer from each mayoral candidate's campaign was a Peggy Neely supporter.
Neely has some strong support from Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio of Ahwatukee, Gov. Jan Brewer and former mayor Skip Rimza.
Her support from DiCiccio was a surprise for me, but DiCiccio has said Neely is on the same boat as he is with the food tax issue and more transparency in city government. DiCiccio said Neely has also been helpful when it comes to the Loop 202 because of her involvement in Maricopa Association of Governments.
That is the issue Ahwatukee resident Debbie Lanier says she feels is very important to the community and something Neely will be a strong representative for to promote alternative routes.
"In our area, when I would faithfully read the Ahwatukee Foothills News looking for information on the freeway, I don't know all that Greg (Stanton) did but I don't remember him being mentioned as helping out the community one way or the other," Lanier said. "I do remember wishing I was reading more about what he was doing but I can't say he wasn't doing anything. I just wish we had better representation and I'm hoping she could do that."
Lanier says she met Neely through a friend about 10 years ago. She has never lived in Neely's district so she was never able to vote for her, but says she's listened to Neely talk many times about city-wide issues, including the freeway.
"I always liked the way she presented herself and the stand she took," Lanier said. "She mentioned some of the controversial issues that would float around between people and I just liked the way she handled herself."
Lanier wants to be more involved, but so far she has just placed a bumper sticker on her car and helped pass out fliers and yard signs. She did invite Neely to her office to speak once.
"I think it was really favorable," Lanier said. "Everyone that heard her speak really liked her. I think it was a real positive outcome from the meeting."
Neely's big push is for "jobs, jobs, jobs," a topic that has not been as high a priority in Ahwatukee. But Lanier says she likes the way Neely has dealt in her district to attract jobs. The way she works with her community is something Lanier believes gives her an edge over her competitors.
"I'm single, working my brains out and fighting a bad economy as a Realtor and I feel like (Neely) has that in her background," Lanier said. "She has a good work ethic and understanding and being able to talk like it's a matter of fact. She's really in the trenches more than above.
"When I hear a debate or hear her make a presentation it just sounds like what I want. I would prefer to have business people in office as opposed to an attorney. I would prefer to have someone who's experienced, hardworking and middle-class as opposed to someone with a silver spoon in their mouth. And I would prefer someone that has more grass roots support than big corporation or lobbyist support. That's what I feel like (Neely) has in comparison to some other top runners."
When it comes to a one-on-one setting, Lanier says Neely is the type of person to remember small details like birthdays and kids.
"I love that when people can do that," Lanier said. "It just makes you feel special when people can look at you and remember what's going on in your life. I saw her do that repeatedly. I feel like if someone can take the time and save the space in their brain to remember important stuff, then they can remember what's important as they go through life."
I had to ask Lanier about what the critics say. I've heard over and over the term "status-quo." Neely has been on the City Council for nine years and some believe she hasn't done enough in that position to fight for the taxpayers.
"I haven't been in her district but taking pot shots like that in such broad strokes sounds like political game playing," Lanier says. "I feel like she has always been out there in her community attracting corporations and jobs.
"I've been involved in the corporate world and those corporate wheels that create jobs or build freeways, those turn very slowly. It's important for people to remember you got from step A to B even though you haven't gotten to Z yet."
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