Fundraising is the name of any political game and the ostensibly benign Phoenix City Council is no exception. Scott Wong, whose reporting assignment is City Hall provides a glimpse into the donors lining up behind District 6 Councilman Sal DiCiccio. The former councilman who was appointed in February to fill a vacancy, has amassed $152,561 between January 1 and June 30, according to the latest campaign finance reports. And he was still flush with $127,058 on hand.
The interesting tidbit is who is contributing to this sometime Republican and onetime McCain aide. Wong writes that much of DiCiccio’s haul came from the business and development community. In some cases, executives who have or recently had projects before the city have given money to DiCiccio. Developer Steve Ellman and at least five other executives at the Ellman Cos. each donated the maximum $410 to DiCiccio’s campaign. Ellman plans to build a luxury condominium project in the district, but is facing resistance from neighborhood groups concerned with the height of the project in the toney Biltmore area.
Three executives with Pyramid Hotel Group, including CEO Rick Kelleher, also donated to DiCiccio’s campaign. The Boston-based firm is a part owner of the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, which has been battling with residents over its $600 million expansion and renovation plan. The council unanimously approved the project this month after DiCiccio worked out a deal between the resort and neighbors.
His list of campaign contributors is rife with Democrat insiders, among them Jeanine L’Ecuyer, former spokeswoman for Gov. Janet Napolitano and Barry Dill a former Napolitano adviser and strategist. Arizona Cardinals General Manager Rod Graves; former Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo; and land-use attorney Grady Gammage Jr. are also supporters.
“It just shows I have broad level of support from the community,” DiCiccio said.
Councilman DiCiccio credits his teacher and mentor, Democrat U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, who required his students to attend Tempe City Council meetings, with originally planting the seeds of interest in the job.