Part of it, surely, is that everyone liked Cahill. The quintessential insider, he was a longtime member of the Sister Cities Commission, a 12-year council veteran, and married to Democratic State Senator Meg Burton Cahill.

In get-along, go-along, "Kumbaya"-singing Tempe, Hallman put out campaign fliers suggesting Cahill was a racist.

For years, there had been allegations of systematic discrimination against Hispanics in the city's public works department. After Governor Janet Napolitano endorsed Cahill, a group of Hispanic activists wrote her a letter, criticizing Cahill for knowing about the discrimination but doing little to stop it. Hallman, they said, had been much more effective in bringing the discrimination to an end.

That's all good. But when the East Valley Tribune wrote about the letter, it gave Hallman the ammunition he needed: a headline saying, "Cahill rebuts racism claims."

No one had ever accused Cahill of actually being a racist. But when Hallman put out a flier about the incident, it certainly looked like it.

"Tempe's Latino Leaders are Supporting Hugh Hallman," the flier announced. "And for Good Reason." The visual? That Tribune headline about Cahill "rebutting" claims of racism.

The Tribune would later call the race the "nastiest" in Tempe's history.

It wasn't just Hallman who got his hands dirty.

Copple, who was supporting Cahill, cajoled city staff members to hand over Hallman's W-2 forms. (Yes, that is against the law.) Then he faxed the forms to newspapers, saying they showed that Hallman had, in fact, accepted a car allowance, in violation of his public stance.

Turns out, he hadn't. The arrangement was simply more complicated than it appeared on the tax forms.

Hallman had written checks to reimburse the city for every dime.


As a councilman, Hallman was convinced that Tempe had a problem.

"Regional competition was eating us alive because we were so hard to deal with," he says. "We had this idea that we were the 18-year-old football star, that we could get anybody we wanted. Well, now we're the 50-year-old guy with gold chains and the pathetic pick-up lines. We had chased off business interests."

So, as mayor, Hallman took an unusual stance for a guy who'd made his bones as a reformer. He welcomed developers. He wanted to make deals.

If the city were easy to work with, he reasoned, it wouldn't need to pay millions to make developers choose it. "I don't pay people to play with me," he says.

For Hallman, being easy to work with meant a quicker permitting process for new development. Rather than a series of protracted, formal reviews, he wanted staff sitting down with developers and explaining what they needed — then figuring out how to get them there.

It also meant actively courting the business community. Hallman's first move after his election as mayor, before he was even sworn in, was to hold a "development summit," asking developers for their take on what needed to change.

One of his points, according to one person in attendance: City Hall would no longer work with the same clique. Hallman didn't want a slow build-out on Tempe Town Lake, for example, with one guy taking 20 years to complete a project in phases.

He wanted competition. He wanted lots of builders. And he wanted movement right away.

Since then, Hallman says, he's made a point of cold-calling guys who aren't building in Tempe. He personally put together a series of aerial maps so he can better pinpoint locations when he's trying to make a deal.

The result of all that pushing is proudly displayed on his office wall: Twelve shovels hang side-by-side, each representative of a ceremonial groundbreaking.

His pro-business stance has won over some of Cahill's staunchest supporters.

Michael Monti, the downtown restaurateur, is a conservative whose philosophy was always much more in line with Hallman's than his Democratic opponent. But he and his business partner still supported Cahill, in part because of Hallman's bristly personality.

But Monti was impressed when, soon after the election, the mayor made a point of coming by.

"We thought we were doomed," Monti says. "We campaigned against this guy. But the olive branch came out immediately. That's one of the things that really won us over. He could have really shown us his disdain and anger. But he viewed it, correctly, as his problem to solve: Why weren't we there for him?"

Prominent Tempe businessman John Bebbling, a staunch Cahill supporter, also found himself surprised by Hallman's skill as mayor. "I don't approve of everything he does," Bebbling says. "But his best interest is for the city of Tempe, and he's done a great job as mayor. I really do believe that."

Still, when Bebbling wrote Hallman a check for his campaign, Hallman returned it with a letter. Bebbling does a lot of business in Tempe, Hallman wrote. He couldn't accept his money.

"I've been to lunch with the guy," Bebbling says. "He wouldn't let me pick up the check! He gave away his parking space! So he doesn't like perks; he doesn't like benefits. There's no reason the mayor shouldn't have a parking space at City Hall."

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2 comments
Cissyie
Cissyie

It's sad, but I see a lot of older men who are afraid to "come out" after being raised in an atmosphere of unwritten gender-identity rules and old-tyme religion. I know that for me it was a challenge to face my fears about faith and god and the ways we accept or reject ourselves, but I'm young. It saddens me to see men who've spent their whole life trying to cover-up a compulsive, barely awknowledged, and yet incredibly rich and complex side of themselves. It's not a sin to be left-handed, but it may be a sin to always be writing with the right hand just to keep the "love" of those close to you. It's a sin because that isn't real love; it's fear. Don't betray yourself in order to not betray another. That is the highest betrayal. BiLoves.com is a good place for people to come out.

Celinna
Celinna

It's sad, but I see a lot of older men who are afraid to "come out" after being raised in an atmosphere of unwritten gender-identity rules and old-tyme religion. I know that for me it was a challenge to face my fears about faith and god and the ways we accept or reject ourselves, but I'm young. It saddens me to see men who've spent their whole life trying to cover-up a compulsive, barely awknowledged, and yet incredibly rich and complex side of themselves. It's not a sin to be left-handed, but it may be a sin to always be writing with the right hand just to keep the "love" of those close to you. It's a sin because that isn't real love; it's fear. Don't betray yourself in order to not betray another. That is the highest betrayal. BiLoves.com is a good place for people to come out.

 
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