Scott Smith (American politician)
|Mayor of Mesa|
June 2, 2008
|Preceded by||Keno Hawker|
|Born||1956 (age 57–58)
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
|Alma mater||Brigham Young University,
Arizona State University
Scott Smith is a businessman and politician, elected as the 38th mayor of Mesa, Arizona, on May 20, 2008. As of September 2013[update], he serves as president of the United States Conference of Mayors. His previous employment includes serving as president of both Great Western Homes and K. Hovnanian Homes. He also has financial and business consulting experience as well as a history of involvement in community organizations.
Early life and education
Smith grew up in the area after his family moved to Mesa in 1967, when his father assumed the role of superintendent of Mesa Public Schools. He was a star basketball player at Westwood High School and graduated in 1974. He obtained a BS in accounting in 1980 from the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management. He subsequently attended Arizona State University where he obtained an MBA in 1985 and a juris doctorate in 1996 from the Arizona State University College of Law.
Prior to his time in office, Smith held various professional positions. Between 1988 and 1993 he was an accounting and finance instructor at the University of Phoenix. He held leadership roles in home building companies: from 1994 to 2003 he was president of Great Western Homes, and from 2003 to 2007 he was a regional president for K. Hovnanian Homes. Before and during the time that he held these aforementioned positions he was active as a financial and business consultant at ExecuShare, Ltd. Smith also held a variety of quasi-public roles, such as the 2006–07 campaign chairman for the Mesa United Way and as a member of the citizens tax initiative committee.
2008 election for mayor of Mesa
Smith launched his campaign for mayor on May 1, 2007, with former U.S. Congressman Matt Salmon as his campaign chairman. Incumbent Keno Hawker was term limited. The primary election had two other candidates: restaurant businessman/three term city councilman Rex Griswold and vice-mayor/two term city councilwoman Claudia Walters. Smith ranked first with 39% of the vote, qualifying for the run-off election. Griswold ranked second with 33% of the vote and Walters was last with 28% of the vote.
Walters endorsed Smith. In the May run-off election, Smith defeated Griswold 56%-44%. It was the first time that a candidate defeated someone who had resigned from the City Council to run for mayor in more than a generation. Al Brooks was successful in 1983 and Willie Wong was successful in 1991. His first attempt at public office, Smith was the first person since 1966 to be elected mayor of Mesa without having first served on the Mesa City Council.
Mayor of Mesa (2008-present)
Smith's first term of office ran from June 2, 2008 to January 22, 2013. Mesa, which is in Maricopa County, Arizona, along with Phoenix, is part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. It is the thirty-ninth most populous city in the United States and the third most populous city (after Phoenix and Tucson) in the state of Arizona according to 2010 United States Census Bureau estimates. It is the largest of seven incorporated areas with populations of 100,000 or more (followed by Glendale, Chandler, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tempe and Peoria) that surround Phoenix in its metropolitan area.
On August 6, 2008, after two months as mayor, Smith served as ceremonial driver for the first run of METRO Light Rail, a new light rail transit for Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe. The 20-mile (32 km) light rail system had its grand opening on December 27, 2008.
Economic development has been a key aspect of Smith's administration. During his first term, two major citywide elections involving economic development opportunities were brought to the voters. First, in March 2009, Smith led the charge for a development deal that would bring a 1,200 room Gaylord Hotel and Resort to the Mesa Proving Grounds. Proposition 300, passed by the largest margin in the history of the city with 84% of voters approving.
In November 2011, voters in Mesa were asked to approve an incentive package that would build the Chicago Cubs a new spring training facility. The Cubs, who had trained in Mesa for over 50 years, had offers to move their operations to Naples, Florida. Taking the lead again, Smith helped Proposition 420 pass with 63% of the vote. Renderings of the planned stadium, and accompanying "Wrigleyville West" entertainment district were released prior to the election and it is expected that the stadium will be complete by the 2014 spring training season. In August 2011, it was reported that the Arizona State University baseball team would join the Cubs and move their facilities to the new stadium upon completion instead of renovating Packard Stadium, however they later moved to Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Smith has pushed his H.E.A.T. initiative to focus on industries of opportunity that Mesa has had success in. H.E.A.T. is an acronym for healthcare, education, aerospace and tourism/technology.
Smith played a significant role in the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) agreement, which allows Mesa to lease the facility and eventually own it while maintaining its highly classified status. The AFRL site is the only such secured facility in Arizona and is one of just a handful in the United States.
In January 2011 Smith unveiled iMesa, an initiative designed to invigorate Mesa through transformative community projects. Leveraging technology for civic engagement, iMesa is a grassroots improvement effort where residents submit, vote and comment on ideas that will transform the community.
He is currently serving as president of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). He is the first Arizona mayor to serve as president of the organization.
The Wall Street Journal, Politico and the Arizona Republic have run op-ed pieces about the national debt crisis co-authored by Smith, then USCM president Antonio Villaraigosa (mayor of Los Angeles) and USCM vice president Michael Nutter (mayor of Philadelphia). Smith has also been featured on Bloomberg TV, MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell, CNBC's The Kudlow Report and in the Washington Post.
2014 election for governor
There has been much speculation about future political plans for Smith. Current Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is term limited and there has been speculation Smith may run to replace her. The Arizona Republic ran a feature titled "Mesa Mayor Scott Smith's success could lead to governor run".
National news coverage
Smith published an article in The Ripon Forum in 2013 discussing his successes as a mayor. Smith implemented a reorganization of city government, saving nearly 20% of the total budget in doing so. He began commercial airline service at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Additionally, Smith oversaw the development of five new fire stations, two new police stations and over $150 million in street and road improvements, and oversaw development of a three-mile extension of the Mesa light rail.
He has raised his children in Mesa.
- Nelson, Gary (February 7, 2008). "Question of the week". The Arizona Republic. Newsbank. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Smith, Scott (January 11, 2008). "Council outsider is needed to jump-start city". The Arizona Republic. Newsbank. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Jensen, Edythe (August 9, 2008). "Leaders in region have Valley roots". The Arizona Republic. Newsbank. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- "Mayor Scott Smith". City of Mesa. Retrieved December 5, 2008.[dead link]
- Arnold, Elias C. (June 1, 2006). "Fire That Damaged 7 Homes Under Construction Ruled Arson". The Arizona Republic. Newsbank. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Nelson, Gary (January 10, 2008). "Smith likes to carry 'outsider' mantle". The Arizona Republic. Newsbank. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Nelson, Gary (June 1, 2006). "Ex-Builder Seeks Mesa Mayoral Seat". The Arizona Republic. Newsbank. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- "Neighboring communities head to the polls Tuesday". The Arizona Republic. Newsbank. March 8, 2008. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Nelson, Gary (May 23, 2008). "Smith wins 5 out of 6 council districts". The Arizona Republic. Newsbank. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- "Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places Over 100,000, Ranked by July 1, 2007 Population: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007". United States Census Bureau. July 10, 2008. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Nelson, Gary (August 7, 2008). "Mayor at helm of Mesa's 1st light-rail passenger run". The Arizona Republic. Newsbank. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Jeff Metcalfe, "ASU baseball could partner with Chicago Cubs at new spring training complex", The Arizona Republic, August 2, 2011, retrieved February 27, 2014
- Bob McClay, "ASU Baseball to move to Phoenix Municipal Stadium", Arizona Sports, February 7, 2013, retrieved February 27, 2014
- "Mayor & City Council". City of Mesa. Retrieved December 5, 2008.[dead link]
- Gary Nelson, "Mesa Mayor Scott Smith's success could lead to governor run", The Arizona Republic, September 1, 2012, retrieved February 26, 2014
- Smith, Scott (Summer 2013). "The Biggest City You’ve Never Heard of". The Ripon Forum. Retrieved 21 October 2013.