By Sean J. O’Hara
Kercsmar & Feltus PLLC
On March 10, 2017, Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 was hosted by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, learning about Scottsdale’s relationship with its neighbors.
Class 31 first heard from Experience Scottsdale’s Rachel Sacco, a woman whose mission is to sell Scottsdale (and the Valley as a whole) to the outside world. Fortunately, she’s very good at the job. Ms. Sacco explained the benefits she’s observed from working together with our surrounding communities to promote Arizona tourism and economic development.
The next presentation looked to Scottsdale’s east: the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, or SRP-MIC. Former mayor and Scottsdale Leadership co-founder Sam Campana detailed the emerging partnership between Scottsdale and SRP-MIC, from disappointingly recent discrimination to today’s much more productive and mutually beneficial efforts. SRP-MIC President Delbert Ray and Marketing Manager (and Class 30 alumna) Blessing McAnlis-Vasquez discussed the community’s unique challenges and advantages created by their close proximity to Scottsdale. SRP-MIC works tirelessly to balance economic development with preserving the cultural heritage of the two resident tribes: the Akimel O’Odham (Pima) and Xalychidom Piipaash (Maricopa).
Before being treated to a “contemporary traditional” Pima and Maricopa lunch of pitted beef, squash and cheese, beans, and tortillas, Don Henninger moderated a panel discussion with surrounding communities’ elected leaders. Paradise Valley Council Member (and Class 17 alumnus) Mark Stanton, Phoenix Vice Mayor Kate Gallego, Fountain Hills Council Member Cecil Yates, and SRP-MIC Vice President Martin Harvier engaged Class 31 with their perspectives on how their communities interact with Scottsdale, and how best the Valley’s communities can work together in the future. Because so many economic development opportunities are regional, all panel members agreed that recent collaboration has paid dividends and will continue to do so. Beyond economic development the panel was eager for increased cooperation on transit and other planning issues, and challenged Class 31 to push Scottsdale’s elected leaders to engage with the surrounding communities on those issues.
Following lunch, former Mesa mayor and current Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith gave an entertaining presentation outlining the history of transit in the Valley, recent achievements, current challenges, and an uncertain future. Class 31 responded with ideas about how Scottsdale can play a bigger role in the transit discussion and possible transit solutions for Scottsdale’s unique challenges. Lisa White concluded the day’s theme with a discussion of Scottsdale’s sister city program and the benefits of international connectivity.
The English poet John Donne famously wrote, “No man is an island.” No city is an island either, even a city as special as Scottsdale. In the modern global economy, that’s never been more true, and Class 31 is poised to ensure Scottsdale can continue to grow its global presence through communication and collaboration with its closest neighbors.