Michael Lafferty, a Phoenix businessman and owner of Lafferty Electric and Lafferty Development has entered the already busy Phoenix mayoral race.
Following in Moses Sanchez and Nicholas Sarwark’s footsteps, Lafferty said he is running as a political outsider. A former Republican, he is registered Independent, and said he will run his campaign as a “Phoenician first.”
Lafferty began his career in 1983 at the age of 21, founding Lafferty Electric after time at ASU and Phoenix College. Two years later, he launched Lafferty Development, which currently owns developments all over Phoenix, including projects along Jefferson and 12th streets. None of his properties used tax incentive breaks known as GPLETs. He said they are great to have downtown, but not having them was a “big disadvantage to us.” Other candidates have taken mixed stances on the controversial tax incentive.
“I’ve been betting on Phoenix since 2005 when others thought I was crazy,” Lafferty said. “Even in (2012), they thought I was nuts.”
Lafferty said he’s pleased with downtown’s developments, and one of his biggest campaign platforms will be to promote downtown’s growth.
“We have about 12,000 people that live downtown, and we should have 30,000 people just based on population, so we’re way behind,” he said. “But it’s finally moving in the right direction.
Lafferty is still early in the campaign process, and working on gaining note. He still does not have clear-cut campaign positions at the time of the interview but said he was putting together a “diverse” team to help him launch operations. He said three weeks would be enough for him to publicize a clear platform and running team.
Evan McMahon, the campaign manager for Libertarian mayoral candidate Nicholas Sarwark, said the Sarwark campaign doesn’t know enough about Lafferty to comment.
“He doesn’t have a campaign website or any public social media accounts,” McMahon wrote. “Other than his announcement, we can’t really find anything about him as a candidate.”
Others took issue with his self-proclaimed “outsider” status as a rationale for running. Owner of MonOrchid Wayne Rainey worries “being an outsider” does not necessarily qualify someone for a political campaign.
“That’s not a platform or even a reason to run for public office,” Rainey wrote in an email. “That’s a change of hairstyles type of statement and if we elect people using this criteria we will no doubt end up with a failed reality show host in the highest office.”
Lafferty, however, said his business background will help him communicate with other downtown entities that might distrust government. He said he’s familiar with the City Council system and knows his way around it well.
“I think I’m not only the better choice, I’m the right choice,” he said.
Contact the reporter at Rebecca.Speiss@asu.edu.