Sam I Am

How a baton twirler from Filer, Idaho, grew up to be Scottsdale's Mayor Sam Campana

Prior, Pettycrew and the others must have heard the fury in her roar. Only Campana and lame-duck councilman Greg Bielli vote yes.

Amberjack goes down.
A few weeks later, Vern Swaback says, "If there hadn't been a run-off election, it would have passed."

If the Amberjack defeat was anything to Campana, it was a political signal of the growing strength of COPP. The fact is that COPP had endorsed slow-growth candidates Goldstein and George Zraket, who had faced off with Campana on opposite sides of several past issues. Incumbents Pryor and Pettycrew are members of what is often criticized for being Campana's "rubber stamp" council. Campana clearly began to envision a world without them and didn't like it.

According to Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts, she decided to do something about it. The local daily, the Scottsdale Tribune, had run several stories detailing Goldstein's bankruptcy problems, but the much larger circulation Republic had virtually ignored the story. Roberts wrote (and Campana agrees with her account) that Campana called an editor at the Republic to question why the paper was ignoring Goldstein's bankruptcy. Campana says she was visiting the Annenberg School of Journalism and was smitten with a case of journalistic ethics, and so immediately called the paper from Philadelphia.

"I don't think that's making trouble at all," she says defending herself. "I didn't call the paper and say, 'Do you know this rotten thing about Hannah?' I asked, 'Why aren't you covering it?' You know, Catholic girls know how to divide up those mortal and venal sins."

The story about Goldstein, she claims, had run in the Tribune four times. She says she told media experts at Annenberg that the Republic wasn't covering the story, and when she asked them what to do, they told her to talk to the editor. So she called people she knew downtown.

The tricky part here is that Campana says that mayors should not endorse council candidates, and she hasn't--officially. But this smacks of some sort of bias. Was she working against Goldstein?

"Hannah's working against me! I have gone out of my way not to do public endorsements. I was critical of Mayor Drinkwater when he did. For whatever reason, he quit doing them around my election. And I respected him for that.

"For councilmembers, there's that collegial thing. . . . This sort of teammate thing of endorsing someone and then you have to work with someone. As mayor I'll work with whoever the citizens elect. Sincerely, genuinely. Treat them and their ideas with the utmost respect."

But there are people she's aligned with?
"Uh-huh. [She stutters.] I'm co-hosting a party for Don and Robert for somebody at their home--not my house. They knew I wasn't going to do those type of endorsements."

Whose house?
"A woman named Laurie Marsh." That would be the wife of Wes Marsh, the Republican state representative.

You did have an interest in supporting the other guys' candidacy?
"Oh, sure. I've worked with them for two years. They're good guys. They're thoughtful; they care. I think that Hannah is disruptive. I've never seen her support anything. I've never seen her have an answer for the really complex problems that we deal with. So, sure. That doesn't mean I'm gonna endorse them, and say that to everybody. I don't think that's right. I shouldn't be doing other people's thinking for them." For the record, candidate Pettycrew also has gone through a bankruptcy.

"My guess is that the supporters of Robert and Don are very happy to see in Laurie's column that Campana was supportive," she ends.

Goldstein chose not to comment before the election.
Bottom line, Campana tried to get more negative press for Goldstein and publicly backed the incumbents, nibbling away at her own position against endorsements.

If you want to know the reason, look back at Amberjack. While the mayor has publicly decried its loss to the city, it really has posited an even greater loss to Campana. It becomes pretty obvious when you look at recent growth and voting patterns of Scottsdale: Last election, Campana did well in almost every voting district, but she did least well in the northern areas where COPP is building its base. Where is Scottsdale's fastest-growing population? Up in the Sonoran Desert in the north.

The mayor may not be afraid of the desert, but maybe she should be.

Sam Campana is home in her kitchen, ruminating among carry-out cartons from Bandera American Cooking--the self-proclaimed "world's first valet take away." Well, Scottsdale's first, anyway. The mayoral residence is roomy, lived-in, comfortable and full of art that is decidedly not disturbing, except for some of the work by Phil Curtis. And some oddball stuff, like the three-dimensional paper floor sculpture that is actually an artist's version of a tablecloth. Otherwise, it's lighthearted '70s art with friendly colors, pieces that even Jesse Helms would agree won't corrupt family values.

"I wonder if I should--" the mayor doesn't finish her thought, but hurries her company outside to see her poolside garden of nine young rose bushes. They were her gift to herself to mark her 50th birthday, and she's wondering if they need water, now eyeing the sky for storm clouds. She pulls out the hose and begins watering.

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