The three candidates for Tempe mayor agree the knowledge, innovation, workforce and consumer of ASU's students are important in shaping the city’s future.
The political family
Mark Mitchell, who served as Tempe councilman for 12 years, graduated ASU in 1993 with a degree in political science.
After returning to Tempe in 1997, he became involved in Kiwanis Club of Tempe and the Chamber of Commerce’s Tempe Leadership Program.
In 2000, he ran against 13 other candidates for the Tempe City Council. He was elected and has since served three terms.
Mitchell’s family has a history of government service. His father, Harry Mitchell, served as Tempe mayor from 1978 to 1994 and was a councilman for 24 years.
“I was raised in an environment where public service is an honorable profession,” Mitchell said.
As mayor, Mitchell wants to continue the style of decision making he has been a part of for the past 12 years, he said.
“We’ve done a good job as a council to get to where we are today,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell has voted to fund the Tempe Town Lake, Tempe Transportation Center, Tempe Center for the Arts, several parks, a canal bike path and recently, the regionalization of Tempe’s buses.
Tempe’s economic development rests heavily on ideas that come out of ASU, Mitchell said.
“I want to truly look at ASU as a partner to help us embrace innovation,” Mitchell said. “As a college town, Tempe is a progressive town.”
Linda Spears, a certified public accountant with her own firm, graduated ASU in 1972 with an accounting degree and immediately began working as an accountant in Phoenix.
“I knew I’d be a CPA,” Spears said. “There weren’t that many women in accounting then.”
Spears then became involved in the Kiwanis Club of Tempe, the Boys & Girls Club and Tempe Leadership. She ran for the Tempe City Council in 1994.
“I never would have guessed I’d be a politician,” Spears said.
Spears served as a councilwoman from 1994 to 1998 and voted to approve Tempe Town Lake and the transportation tax that led to the Metro light rail.
As mayor, Spears said she wants to emphasize Tempe’s voice in regional issues, focusing on transportation, air quality and economic development.
Spears said she is concerned with creating a vibrant economy that students would want to take advantage of after graduating, focusing on attracting businesses to fill storefronts.
“If we create a strong and vibrant Tempe, it attracts employers,” Spears said. “I want (ASU students) when they graduate to stay here.”
Part of creating a stable economy involves taking advantage of the economic opportunities ASU holds, Spears said. She is concerned with the expansion of satellite campuses and wants to work with ASU to preserve the student population in Tempe.
Spears pointed to the old Borders bookstore storefront on Mill Avenue as an ideal place for an Apple store to take over. However, the building’s conditions do not meet requirements Apple has for new store locations.
“We are sitting with a great space there,” Spears said. “We have a great population here, and I think the city overlooks students as a retail base.”
The Restaurant Owner
Michael Monti, owner of Monti’s La Casa Vieja Steakhouse, graduated ASU with a Spanish degree and went on to get a law degree from the University of San Diego. He wanted to go abroad and work for the U.S. Department of Foreign Affairs, but said he felt obligated to help his father with the family business.
He returned to Tempe and completely took over the business in 1993. He bought it from his father four years later.
The restaurant owner is also a husband and father of six children. Considering his full schedule, he wouldn’t normally run for office, but he wanted to uphold current Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman’s views, Monti said.
“I can’t think of a better way to learn to manage six colleagues on council than to manage six kids,” Monti said.
Monti plans to find a way to cut items from Tempe’s budget and is concerned with extra expenses, such as the Tempe Streetcar Project.
However, he is an advocate for developing a swimming beach at Tempe Town Lake.
“We want something for the people of Tempe,” Monti said, noting all the events hosted at Tempe Town Lake are for outsiders.
As a founder of Local First AZ, Monti wants to encourage start-ups and a technological community in Tempe, he said.
“When (students) come up with a marketable idea, we should come up with ways for them to launch here in Tempe,” Monti said.
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