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Over at Politico, Ethan Epstein of the Weekly Standard writes that Mesa, Arizona may be the model for conservative urbanism:
While it’s willing to make investments, Mesa is also lean in ways that more bloated liberal cities can’t boast. Take the City Council. Despite Mesa’s hefty population, council members are part-timers who have day jobs in fields from education to copper mining. City leaders also pay themselves considerably less than those in other cities do. Mesa City Council members make only $33,000 a year, and the mayor is paid only $73,000. (And those salaries represent the fruits of a big raise: Before last year, city councilmembers made less than $20,000 a year and the mayor earned only $36,000.)
But Mesa isn’t the only big city embracing conservative policies on a municipal level. Across the country, innovative mayors are showing that Republicans can govern urban areas effectively and innovatively—and indeed, that oftentimes they can execute traditionally “liberal” policies with greater discipline and efficacy than Democratic-run cities can manage.
Though I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Mesa, I’m sure we have Ricochet members who either live there or are familiar with it, including our own Jon Gabriel. I’d love to hear more.
Some naysayers in the article’s comments point out that the town wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Hoover Dam, a large federal project. Ergo, the residents are hypocrites for living their small-government lives compliments of a large government project. My own very conservative, southern Appalachian area would likewise be different without the Tennessee Valley Authority, another big FDR project.
I once heard James Howard Kunstler — possibly the country’s most famous urbanist writer — describe Savannah, Georgia as his favorite American city (the only downside, according to Kunstler, is that the heat makes it feel like living inside a dog’s mouth.) I believe Savannah is relatively liberal despite being in Georgia, but it is interesting that these reddish states have acknowledged enclaves of urbanism.
Is conservative or libertarian-leaning urbanism different from its liberal counterpart? Should it be a bigger part of the movement?
Image Credit: Tim Roberts Photography.