Phoenix City Council Vacancy: Anyone but Sal DiCiccio?


Now that the Phoenix City Council has signed off on a staggering $270 million in budget cuts, we can turn our attention to the really important stuff -- the imminent vacancy for the District 6 Council seat.

Of course we're kidding when we say this is more important than cutting more than 1,000 city jobs, slashing hours at the city's libraries, and closing a bunch of city pools. That's difficult, painful stuff.

But it's no exaggeration to say that the announcement from Councilman Greg Stanton (pictured) that he's heading over to work for Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has gotten political insiders worked into a tizzy. We've heard nearly a dozen names floated for the position.

And despite what the Arizona Republic seems to think, we've heard this is hardly a done deal.

Last week, Mayor Phil Gordon's former chief of staff, Deb Gullett, dropped out of consideration. Gullett was widely considered the frontrunner. But at that point, the Republic's Scott Wong promoted former councilman Sal DiCiccio as a virtual shoe-in -- which our sources suggest couldn't be further from the truth.

Yes, DiCiccio is a longtime friend of the powerful Phoenix firefighters' union, and he's said to enjoy the firm support of at least one Council member. But politics at City Hall these days are complicated. And that simply might not be enough.

For one thing, DiCiccio's brand of populism is a little bit out of fashion in Phoenix these days. Back in the day, DiCiccio endorsed paleoconservative/"illegal" obsessive Randy Pullen for mayor. More recently, he wrote a letter to the editor defending Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas, neither of whom are exactly popular at City Hall.

 And, perhaps more importantly, DiCiccio was such a pain in the neck at City Hall back in the day that then-Mayor Skip Rimsza, a fellow Republican, took the highly unusual step of writing a letter to the Republic denouncing his subsequent candidacy for Congress.

Rimsza described DiCiccio's tenure on the Council as "divisive and self-serving."

DiCiccio, Rimsza wrote, "spent most of his time on the Phoenix City Council feathering his own political interests, while only rarely working to solve the problems of the people who gave him their votes and trust. Instead of working for the people, he put the people's money to work for him. He spent tax money to send unsolicited campaign-style mail to Phoenix police officers and raised cash from developers even while he was voting on major zoning cases." Damn!

When we called Rimsza for comment, he gave us a brusque "no comment." But suffice to say, we're hearing there's a bit of an Anyone-But-DiCiccio movement afoot, with some City Hall regulars being asked to consider throwing their hats into the ring.

Applications aren't due until Thursday, but so far three people have filed the necessary paperwork. Kathy Dubs, like DiCiccio, is a former councilwoman. Michael Widener is a lawyer and longtime Phoenix resident who vows only to serve the remainder of Stanton's term, not run again in two years. And, finally, Christopher Gentis spent thirty years with the Phoenix police department and is heavily involved with his Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhood.

We'll update you when the rest of the applications are filed, but we thought it wise to inform you that, despite what the Republic suggests, the fat lady simply isn't ready to sing. 

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske