Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman is officially endorsing restauranteur Michael Monti in the 2012 mayoral race.
Monti owns several restaurants around the Valley, including Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe along Mill Avenue.
“Michael has ensured his family business on Mill Avenue has remained successful and vibrant while retaining its identity,” according to a press release Tuesday by Scottsdale public relations firm Rose + Moser + Allyn. “That is clearly the mission of the next Mayor of Tempe.”
Hallman, who has served as mayor since 2004, announced during the summer he would not seek re-election.
Monti said he was humbled to receive the mayor’s blessing.
“I’m honored to have his endorsement,” Monti said. “He’s going to be a formidable act to follow because of his high energy level and his omnipresent quality while he was mayor.”
Monti said the endorsement is important, but is not an excuse for him to quit campaigning as hard as he can.
“I can’t take this as a sign that the heavy lifting is diminished,” Monti said.
Linda Spears, one of Monti’s opponent and Tempe city councilwoman from 1994 to 1998, said her campaign strategy hasn’t changed with the announcement.
“My focus is what I can do and I think I’m better than the other two candidates. I bring more experience to the table,” Spears said. “My campaign doesn’t change at all because of this.”
Spears said her focus is still connecting with voters and addressing their concerns.
“Although it is nice to have those endorsements, it’s really the voters that you need to convince and not the people who are willing to lend their name to you,” Spears said.
Tempe Councilman Mark Mitchell, the third hopeful in the race, could not be reached for comment.
Mitchell is the son of former U.S. congressman Harry Mitchell, who also served as Tempe mayor from ’78 to ’94.
The primary election is scheduled for March 13 with the general election on May 15.
Monti said, as a long-time resident of Tempe, he was inspired by Hallman’s leadership and wants to move the city towards bigger and better goals if he is elected.
“I look forward to continuing to take Tempe to a higher, brighter standard,” Monti said. “It’s a great community but I want to move it forward even more.”
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