Former City Councilman Greg Stanton will return to the arena of city politics with a run for Phoenix mayor.
Stanton, who resigned his council seat in January 2009 to join the Attorney General’s Office, announced his candidacy Dec. 8. His candidacy had been rumored but unofficial since November, when he announced that he would step down as a deputy attorney general.
In a press statement, Stanton said he is running to diversify Phoenix’s economy and improve the city’s schools.
“I love Phoenix, my home for 37 years and the place Nicole and I are raising our children,” Stanton said. “But our city stands at a crossroads. Growth for growth’s sake can no longer stand. I am committed to making us more competitive, more aggressive, and more focused on growing jobs-not growing sprawl.”
The campaign, however, had an inauspicious start. According to media reports, Phoenix police are investigating Stanton’s former campaign treasurer, Mindy Shields, on allegations the she embezzled about $80,000 from his City Council campaign committee. Stanton said Shields, who is the daughter of Phoenix firefighters union boss Billy Shields, repaid $80,000 into the account in November with the help of her parents.
Stanton can use the money from his prior City Council campaigns for his mayoral run, but he said he won’t touch the money until an accountant he hired finishes an audit of the account.
“The money is in an account that is being left untouched until a CPA has gone through all the records and accounts for every penny,” he said.
That means the money won’t be available for the early stage of the campaign. But Stanton said he wouldn’t use much of the money even if it were available, and doesn’t expect to suffer from a lack of campaign cash.
“Even if I was in a position to take immediate action with that money, we wouldn’t draw down that much money. What am I going to do, put up billboards or something? It’s December. The election’s not until September,” he said.
Stanton joins a growing field of mayoral candidates that includes Councilman Claude Mattox, Councilwoman Peggy Neely and lobbyist Wes Gullett, a former aide to U.S. Sen. John McCain and former Gov. Fife Symington. Councilman Sal DiCiccio and developer Jim Pederson are also rumored to be considering runs.
Stanton spent nine years on the Phoenix City Council. He resigned from his Third District seat in 2009 to work for outgoing Attorney General Terry Goddard, the Democratic nominee for governor.