5 Mesa mayoral candidates share their stances during public forum

May 15, 2024, 4:25 AM | Updated: May 21, 2024, 3:50 pm

2024 Mesa mayoral election: 5 candidates spoke in public forum...

From left to right: Scott Smith, Mark Freeman, Scott Neely, Ryan Winkle and R. Carey Davis. (City of Mesa screenshot/via YouTube)

(City of Mesa screenshot/via YouTube)

PHOENIX — Mesa voters got to get up close and personal with the many candidates competing in the 2024 Mesa mayoral election on Tuesday evening.

The city is in for a big change this election cycle. Mesa Mayor John Giles has been termed out after serving in the position since 2014.

That leaves big shoes to fill — and five Valley leaders pled their cases to voters during the Mesa City Council and Mayoral Candidate Forum.

The mayoral candidates spoke at around 7 p.m. Before that, Mesa City Council candidates shared their stances at 6 p.m.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mike Broomhead moderated both forums.

Who are the candidates running for mayor in Mesa?

One of the candidates already has experience running Mesa from the mayoral seat. Scott Smith previously filled the role from 2008-2014 — but he said he’s not running a nostalgia tour.

“I’m not running because I want to look backwards. I’m running because I’m passionate about this city and I want to look forward,” Smith said. “I want to finish the business that we started, but I also want to take Mesa to the next level.”

Fellow candidate R. Carey Davis also has mayoral experience — though not in Mesa.

He served as mayor for San Bernardino from 2014 to 2018. He said one of the keys to helping Mesa is to restore its fiscal conservative budgeting. Davis also stressed the importance of supporting the police department.

Another mayoral candidate is Mark Freeman, who represents Mesa’s District 1.

Freeman said he wants to focus on public safety, given his experience working as a firefighter in the city for 31 years. Water, infrastructure, community engagement and maintaining the quality of life are some of his top priorities.

“I’ve also worked hard on financial transparency,” Freeman said.

Ryan Winkle, who was a councilmember seven years ago before being voted out, emphasized his passion for empowering the community. He is the executive director of nonprofit RAIL CDC as well as fractional executive director at the Arizona Fair Housing Center.

“Homelessness is not just a ‘bum on the street.’ It’s any one of us at any minute because of the cost of housing being so high right now,” Winkle said.

Lastly, Scott Neely distinguished himself from the other candidates by presenting himself as a businessman, rather than a politician. Neely previously ran for governor in 2022.

He said opening a homeless hotel with tax dollars was a mistake and that the issue should be handled by NGOs.

“I want to be dutiful with our tax dollars in the way that I’m dutiful with my company’s revenue,” Neely said.

When is the 2024 Mesa mayoral election?

Voters can cast ballots in the primary election on July 30. After that, they can pick the new mayor in the general election on Nov. 5.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

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5 Mesa mayoral candidates share their stances during public forum