Marquette alumni heat up mayoral race

It is common to find hundreds of Marquette graduates residing in Milwaukee, Chicago or any given city within a few hours. But when three out of the six original candidates in the Phoenix mayoral race were Marquette grads, the circumstances were a bit more rare.

Greg Stanton, Jennifer Wright and Anna Brennan graduated Marquette in 1992, 1996 and 1981, respectively, and all decided to run in the Aug. 30 primary this summer.

One of the three graduates, Stanton (D), advanced to the final race. He will face Wes Gullett (R) in the final election on Nov. 8.

John McAdams, associate professor of political science at Marquette, said coincidences happen and there is no rhyme or reason for three Marquette alumni to appear in Phoenix and run for the same position.

“For all the world it looks to me like a wild coincidence,” McAdams said. “Social scientists aren’t meant to predict these things and surely can’t. It’s all coincidence.”

Wright, who earned a Bachelor of Science in business economics from Marquette, said this is the most competitive mayoral race since 1983, because this is the first year a City Council member did not step into the role.

She said she bumps into the occasional Marquette graduate, but found it surprising to be running against two of them.

“It was astonishing to be running against two Marquette alumni, but at the same time it didn’t affect the race,” Wright said.

Stanton, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science, said he was pleased to run against two other Marquette alumni.

“They (the other alumni) both did very well,” Stanton said. “They had strong perspective, debate skills and appearances in the public. Marquette did well in Phoenix, and I believe this wholeheartedly.”

Brennan, the third candidate from Marquette, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

According to the City of Phoenix official website, Stanton placed first with 37.68 percent of the votes, while the runner up, Gullett, had 20.46 percent.

Stanton, a West-Phoenix native, returned home to Phoenix after graduating from law school at the University of Michigan to enter public service. He served on the Phoenix City Council for nine years, then as the state’s deputy attorney general for two.

On his website, Stanton said he is running for mayor for the same reasons he entered public service––”to build a Phoenix with strong neighborhoods, excellent public schools and a robust, diverse community.”

“I want to increase the number of jobs and wages, increase the education workforce and have a more active community,” Stanton said in an interview. “Building a better workforce and an increase in jobs and wages is critical to the bright future of of Phoenix.”

He credits part of his success to his time at Marquette.

“Marquette is in the heart of the city with so many service opportunities,” Stanton said. “Marquette teaches you to give back to the community, and that is what I am trying to do.”

Although she did not win, Wright was glad to see how far she went in the mayoral race.

“I am pleased to see that I held my own ground considering I have no background in politics,” Wright said.  “I am in a virtual tie for third place, and I’m impressed with myself.”

Wright ran because she was dissatisfied with the candidates and felt her abilities were better than the others, since she had a law degree and background in economics.

As an Arizona native, Wright represented the “tea party,” a party that considers themselves both conservative and libertarian.

Anna Brennan ran as a liberal. She campaigned for a transparent government, promoting the importance of education to the community and business leaders and eliminating illegal immigration.

Brennan commented on her Facebook page after the primary polls were released.

“Eight weeks + or – $10,000.00, 2-3 people getting 6,000 plus votes is awesome.”

Gullet, the candidate Stanton will face in the run-off election on Nov. 8, is a lobbyist and has never served on the City Council, but he has worked as chief of staff for former Gov. of Arizona, Fife Symington. He also worked as campaign manager for U.S. Sen. John McCain in 1992.

According to his campaign website, he hopes to make the Phoenix economy more prosperous by creating jobs and keeping the government away from small businesses so they can grow. He also wants a safe city with a police department Phoenix can depend on, a halt in increasing taxes and to create an affordable government.

Stanton said he and Gullet could not be more different.

“We have clear distinctions,” Stanton said. “I have a great record of creating quality jobs, I have committed my life to public service and have a record people can count on. Gullet is different.”

In just two months the new mayor will be elected, but Stanton said it’s all up to the people to choose between Gullet and himself.

“People have to decide who they trust, and people have to believe in what you say you’re going to do,” Stanton said.