Wes Gullett, a Phoenix mayoral candidate, doesn't mince words when it comes to his opposition to the most recent water rate increase in Phoenix.
"I opposed it," he said during the first mayoral debate in the runoff election between him and his opponent, Greg Stanton. "We didn't need it ... It was not necessary this year, and it not necessary next year."
Camp Stanton points out that in 2005, Gullett, a lobbyist with FirstStrategic Communication and Public Affairs, was perfectly willing to work for the Chaparral City Water Company as it sought a nearly 29 percent increase in water rates. The Arizona Corporation Commission authorized a 17.86 percent revenue increase, according to its 2005 decision.
"Mr. Gullett's hypocrisy is astonishing. He rails against water rate increases unless his client is paying him to shill for them," says Stanton campaign manager Ruben Alonzo.
Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for Gullett's campaign, said the point is moot because Gullett wasn't lobbying the Arizona Corporation Commission on behalf of his client, only working to raise public awareness about the pending water rate increase.
Gullett, at the same time, takes a shot at Stanton for pledging that, as mayor, he will steer clear of appointing lobbyists to boards and commissions when he voted in favor of appointing 12 lobbyists to those exact boards and commissions in 2008.
Gullett has resisted being labeled as a lobbyist since he first began his campaign. Ironically, though, as Gullett highlights that Stanton voted in favor of placing 12 lobbyists on board and commissions in 2008, Gullett has no choice but to include himself -- a lobbyist -- on the list.
Gullett also started calling his opponent a "taxpayer-funded lobbyist" because he registered as a lobbyist while he served as the Deputy Attorney General.
Stanton says there is a vast difference between the type of lobbying he did on behalf of the people of Arizona, including protecting Luke Air Force Base and improving border security along the U.S-Mexico border.
"Only Wes Gullett would confuse law enforcement work with the special interest lobbying he's done his whole life," Stanton tells New Times. "I'm proud to be the only candidate in this race willing to take city hall out of the hands of lobbyists."
He says that since more than 90 percent of board and commission recommendations come from the mayor, he will be able to easily change the tone of government moving forward by prohibiting lobbyist from serving on city boards and commissions.
"We must end the lobbyist stranglehold on our city government," Stanton says.
Gullett spokesman Scarpinato says that Stantons' "faux outrage on this issue is just the latest example of Greg Stanton's record not matching his rhetoric."
Gullett, too, has come under fire for various positions he has taken on the campaign trail -- vowing to immediately repeal the food tax while telling voters about the need to support a proposal to increase taxes to support a more robust art program; for talking about his work for First Things First, a fund of money used for early childhood development programs, but then recommending that money should be loaned, or given, to the state to balance its financial troubles.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.