Bryan Jeffries, Phoenix Councilman Running to Keep His District 2 Seat, Gets Nod From Sonoran Citizens Improvement Association

Political endorsements are flying off the shelves in Phoenix, where voters will elect a new mayor and five City Council members on August 30.

Among the latest is the Sonoran Citizens Improvement Association's expected endorsement of Bryan Jeffries, the Mesa firefighter appointed to fill the City Council seat vacated by former Councilwoman Peggy Neely after she announced her bid for Phoenix mayor.

Now, he's running to represent Phoenix residents living in District 2 for the next four years. His challengers are David Jones and Jim Waring.

Freedman and members of the SCIA are hosting a press conference tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the Tramonto Fire Station Community Room, 3210 Canotia Place, to make official the SCIA's endorsement of Jeffries.

But SCIA isn't just looking to get Jeffries elected to office.

It's aim is also to keep Neely from getting elected because of her failure to represent resident's interests regarding the controversial Sonoran Boulevard, the president of the SCIA tells New Times.

Neely was not immediately available for comment.

The group is throwing its support behind mayoral candidate and Phoenix lobbyist Wes Gullett. Their mission is clear: Prevent Neely from being one of the final two candidates that will face each other in a runoff election in November.

Since former Councilman Greg Stanton is regarded as a leading candidate in the mayor's race, the group's plan is to push for Gullett to knock out Neely from a potential Number 2 spot.

"We just want to make this city understands how hurtful this woman has been to her constituents," says Clif Freedman, president of SCIA.  "We are very, very actively opposing her. We are working passionately because we believe in this."

Freedman and others' opposition stems from the controversy over the Sonoran Boulevard, a $40 million roadway providing a seven-mile connection from 23rd Avenue to Cave Creek Road.

Area resident fought the project over traffic concerns and because the boulevard wasn't connected to the I-17 or any other road -- explaining why the Sonoran Boulevard was often referred to as "road to nowhere."

Others questioned the project because it led to a swath of land where mega-developer Westcor plans to build an auto-mall. The corporation is represented by zoning attorney Paul Gilbert, and Gilbert is heading up Neely's political campaign.

Freedman said that posed a "conflict of interest" for Neely. He says that the neighborhood group ultimately was formed "out of sheer desperation" because Neely was "consistently unresponsive."

Jeffries, on the other hand, was able to work with the neighborhood leaders and broker a compromise.

"Over the course of several months, Bryan Jeffries investigated our complains and determined that we had legitimate concerns," Freedman says.

He adds that Jeffries put together a plan to mediate the problems, and the results were acceptable to all the stakeholders.

The policy changes the City Council voted on include changing the name of Sonoran Boulevard back to Dove Valley Road and changing the name of Sonoran Desert Drive back to Sonoran Boulevard.

It matters because Sonoran Boulevard, which aligns with Loop 303, will be the six-lane major arterial roadway that links Loop 303 to State Route 51. Dove Valley Road, which branches off west-bound from Sonoran Boulevard in the desert, will be a minor two-lane arterial roadway to 21st Avenue.

And that's exactly what SCIA wanted from the beginning ... but wasn't able to get because, as Freedman says, Neely told them it was a "foregone conclusion."

Those are two of 18 policy decisions that the City Council unanimously approved on July 6 -- the results of Jeffries' successful mediation with residential and commercial stakeholders.

Freedman said that Neely was more interested in becoming mayor than serving Phoenix residents.

"Years ago, she was supported by unions, and now she opposes them," he says. "She jumps on any bandwagon she thinks will help distract the public from who she really is."

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo