By CHRIS IRISH
Scottsdale Leadership Executive Director
Tall, lanky and dressed in western wear, Councilman Tony Nelssen made an impression every time he entered a room. His slow smile and wry sense of humor complimented his look. Yesterday, Nelssen lost his battle to cancer and Scottsdale lost a strong leader.
Nelssen’s first term on the city council began in 2006. He was running for re-election this year. Nelssen’s love for the equestrian lifestyle and view of Scottsdale as “The West’s Most Western Town” provided much of his motivation to lead.
A native of Arizona, Nelssen was a smart man who paved his path to political office by actively participating in community affairs. His stewardship included service on both the planning and the parks and recreation commissions. He was a vocal advocate for preserving our desert.
I worked with Councilman Nelssen in two capacities. The first is in my role as executive director of Scottsdale Leadership and second, as a member of the Scottsdale Public Art Advisory Board. In all instances, I experienced Nelssen as a respectful, approachable and honest person. Nelssen enjoyed sharing his knowledge and views with Scottsdale Leadership class members who were eager to begin making their own mark on the community. He was proud and supportive of the accomplishments and highly-respected reputation of the Scottsdale Public Art program.
Nelssen’s leadership required huge personal sacrifice. He gave countless hours preparing for council meetings, talking with citizens and attending events throughout Scottsdale.
His death leads me to ask, how can each of us do more?