Phoenix's Next Councilman: Jon Altmann? Or Jim "Burgundy" Sharpe?

When the Phoenix City Council gathers this afternoon to choose a replacement for outgoing Councilwoman Maria Baier, they'll have a wealth of candidates to choose from: 19 applicants are seeking the job.

The frontrunner, we suspect, is Jon C. Altmann. Altmann, a Navy veteran and public safety consultant with ties to the powerful firefighters union, was runner up in the District Three race two years ago. (Baier, the sister of Fire Chief Bobby Kahn, ultimately received the firefighters' endorsement -- and heavily outspent Altmann to get the victory.) Since Altmann earned 44 percent of the vote, he can make a strong claim to best representing the district now that Baier's moving on.

But the strongly conservative Altmann has made his enemies -- more recently, he lost a tight race for the Arizona House of Representatives even as his running mate, Adam Driggs, coasted to reelection. We've heard the controversy has to do with a nasty fight in his neighborhood. You can expect those angry neighbors to show up at City Hall today.

Which, in theory, just might open the door for a longshot candidate. Former Councilman Tom Milton, a BFF of Mayor Phil Gordon, would be an obvious bet. But what about someone more quirky? Someone like, say, Jim Burgundy?

For the uninitiated, Jim Sharpe is a former morning show at KTAR and KFYI. But these days, Sharpe is more famous as "Jim Burgundy," the star of a series of YouTube videos put together by his current employer, PR firm Rose & Allyn. You can watch Burgundy's fatuous, gossipy reports here to get the flavor.

Obviously, these reports aren't quite the typical launching pad for a career in politics, which made us wonder whether the whole thing was a spoof designed to generate more publicity for Rose & Allyn. Sounds farfetched, right? Call us conspiracy nuts, but somehow, we definitely wouldn't put it past them ...