Councilman Claude Mattox called out two of his opponents in the Phoenix mayor's race for "quitting" the City Council before the end of their terms.
Former Councilwoman Peggy Neely resigned her District 2 seat in April to run for mayor -- as required by Arizona's resign-to-run law. Former Councilman Greg Stanton left the City Council in 2009 to serve as a deputy Attorney General.
"Public offices should be more than stepping stones to political careers," Mattox says in a press release issued on the heels of a City Council vote to appoint Bryan Jeffries to fill Neely's old seat. "Quitting before the end of their terms so they can chase the next opportunity is a major disruption and comes at a cost."
It is a curious line of attack.
First, if Mattox felt so strongly about this issue, why would he reward a City Council quitter -- Councilman Sal DiCiccio -- by voting to reappoint him in 2009 to the seat he had abandoned years earlier when he made an unsuccessful bid for Congress?
And while Mattox contends that these opportunity-chasing candidates cause a major disruption for the city, he fails to mention that Paul Johnson -- his own campaign chairman -- did the same thing.
In fact, for the past two decades, Phoenix leaders have been resigning to seek higher, or different, political offices ... and somehow the city has survived.
Former Mayor Terry Goddard resigned in 1990 to run for governor. Johnson was elected mayor in 1993, but after a mere 15 months in office, he also resigned to run for governor. In 1994, Skip Rimsza left his council seat to run for Phoenix mayor. And in 2003, then-Councilman Phil Gordon did the same thing.
Mattox took a boomerang shot at his political opponents, and managed to hit some of his political allies, including Johnson.
It boils down to not much more than an argument of convenience for Mattox.
Consider this: The only reason that Mattox, who represents District 5, is not resigning to pursue the next "stepping stone" in this political career (being mayor of Phoenix) is because he is in the last year of his term.
And lucky for him, mayoral elections are always aligned with City Council elections in odd-numbered districts.
That means, like Mattox, elected officials who represent districts 1, 3, 5, 7 will automatically be in the final year of their four-year term by the time the mayor's race rolls around again. Of course, those representing even-numbered districts 2, 4, 6 and 8, like Neely, will have two years remaining on their four-year terms, forcing them to resign if they choose to run for mayor.
Election 2011: Mayor, Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7
Election 2013: Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8
Election 2015: Mayor, Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7
And, we have to point out that Mattox had his eye on one of the "stepping stones" of his political career two years ago when he started his exploratory committee to run for mayor. He wasn't in the last year of his term, but he was able to start raising money and floating his name for mayor in the community.
The laws just aligned in his favor -- allowing him to get a jump-start on his mayoral run by calling it an "exploratory" campaign while he was representing District 5 residents.