(Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of columns from Allison Hurtado talking to representatives of the candidates running for Phoenix mayor in the Aug. 30 election.)
Anna Brennan may not have the biggest campaign or even the most organized, but when it comes to a true grassroots effort she takes the cake.
When I emailed her and asked for volunteers in Ahwatukee she told me she doesn't have any. She's doing it all herself. But she agreed to come to some canvassing in Ahwatukee.
She came, armed with eight of her best volunteers - three old friends and five children including her own daughter. She was running a little late on the day we were planning on meeting, but seeing her drive up in her bus was worth the wait.
I haven't seen any other candidate have a bus, much less drive it themselves. She's renting it from a medical practice she manages. Brennan says it has been a big blessing for her. She has the least amount of signs, but driving a bus around Phoenix with her photo on it has gotten her some recognition.
We park in the Safeway parking lot at Chandler Boulevard and 40th Street as we wait for all the volunteers to arrive. Brennan wastes no time, introducing herself to every person that passes and handing them a flyer with her website and phone number on it. The phone number is not to some office or a campaign manager. The phone number Brennan passes out is to her own cell phone and she tells each person to give her a call. It may seem unrealistic, but Brennan says that's the kind of mayor she wants to be.
After more than an hour of waiting and watching Brennan talk to every person, we're all a little weary. We're really going to go out and canvass a neighborhood at 3 in the afternoon when the temperature is above 110 degrees? Brennan comments that this heat is why she puts her signs up in the middle of the night. Imagining her pounding in her own signs at 11:30 at night, I have to ask her if she ever sleeps.
"No," she responds. She can't afford to be out of touch on any of the issues because it's her biggest pet peeve when candidates lie to get a vote. She said she's easily up ‘til 3 or 4 in the morning researching every question on a survey. Then she's be up at 6 the next morning to make sure her bus is out on the road, visiting local coffee shops and meeting the people.
"I had to decide once I got on the ballot if I was going to run or not," says Brennan. "It's one thing to get on the ballot but it's another to actually run. I was going to get back from summer vacation on Aug. 1 and I thought that's 30 days. After I went to one forum and I listened to them speak I thought, oh no, I'm in this till the end. The taxpayer deserves better."
Among Brennan's adult volunteers is Brad Soden, a plumber and owner of TC Mobility, which designs high performance mobile wheelchairs. He met Brennan when he did some plumbing work for her in the past. When he found out she was running, he decided to get involved.
"I don't know if you noticed this about her but she's not afraid to speak her mind," says Soden. "It's a breath of fresh air. I'm tired of the same can-can dancers and failed excuses. She has the built-in fortitude to call it as she sees it. It may not make everybody happy but the beautiful part about what she's doing is she's not in anybody's pocket. She doesn't answer to anyone but her constituents."
When we finally head out into the neighborhood, Brennan's tactic is simple. She puts a flyer on every door and talks to every person. Other campaigns I've followed have been much more strategic. They have charts and maps and they only hit the houses with voters who typically vote in city elections. Brennan has none of these tools. She's doing things the old-fashioned way and the voters we run into respond very nicely to that.
I ask her what she thinks of the people who say she's too new and doesn't know what she's getting herself into.
"Too new, too green to already be corrupted? To already be in the system? That's exactly why I'm running," says Brennan. "I think the taxpayer has had it with lawyers, lobbyists and career politicians. The only thing I'm lacking experience in is being a politician and people are tired of politicians."
For those who still need more convincing, her phone number is (480) 280-9238 and from the time I spent with her and her small band of volunteers, I have no doubt she's awaiting your call.
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