Within minutes of taking office on January 12, Scottsdale’s new mayor, David Ortega, declared a proclamation of emergency in response to the pandemic. This was followed by a second proclamation the next day, reimposing face coverings to combat rising cases.
“I was ready to take immediate action by preparing between the November election win and shouldering the oath of office,” Ortega said. “I have been building consensus with newly elected colleagues, council members and fostering trust with city staff.”
Ortega replaced Jim Lane, who was Scottsdale’s mayor for 12 years. The courteous transition between the two included briefings on critical issues facing the city and region, which helped the new mayor zero in on his main goals for the next few years.
His objectives include ensuring quality police, fire and EMT services throughout this economic recovery period and protecting local neighborhoods and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
“Families and businesses will thrive in a stable environment,” Ortega said. “We must protect our neighborhoods from massive block apartments and proliferation of short-term rentals, which disrupt our quality of life. By working with other cities and legislative allies, we can get the Arizona Legislature to restore local control.”
He also plans to enact council districts and an anti-discrimination ordinance.
“Scottsdale’s world-renowned, business-friendly and hospitality-centered reputation can be strengthened by inclusion and equality for all,” Ortega said.
Ortega is originally from Tucson; the eldest of seven children. He followed in his father’s footsteps, attending the University of Arizona with dual majors. He played baseball during college until his architectural ambitions became his primary focus.
During college, Ortega worked part-time for architect Anne Rysdale. After graduating in 1978, he came to Scottsdale to work as an apprentice for Bennie Gonzales, the internationally acclaimed architect who designed Scottsdale City Hall, Civic Center Library and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
He met his wife Rosemary, got married, and raised two children, Alexandra and Luke.
Ortega has been involved with the Scottsdale community in many different ways. His office on Fifth Ave. has been there since 1984, and he was a city councilman from 2000-04.
“Being a Scottsdale architect gave me a great foundation to get involved with redevelopment issues, transportation solutions, and architectural guidelines for downtown,” Ortega said.
He has designed a dozen signature Old Town landmarks, most notably the building behind the Cowboy Roper sign. Out of all his work, Ortega said his favorite project was the restoration of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Miami, AZ, where his father was baptized.
When asked about his inspiration to run for mayor, Ortega referenced the 2020 Opening Day of spring training between San Francisco and L.A., sitting next to Mayor Lane and wife Joanne.
“A major storm passed, dazzling sunshine lit up the rain-delayed game, and I wondered what it would be like to throw out the opening pitch,” Ortega said. “Similarly, the storm will subside, and brighter days are ahead.”
As the Scottsdale City Council works to safely move forward with events like MLB Spring Training and Barrett Jackson, Ortega said the city remains committed to enforcing all safety measures. He looks forward to leading his community to a safe and promising future where citizens drive success.
“Citywide projects include Civic Center mall renovations, new parks, public safety buildings, transportation and drainage improvements, senior center expansions and amenities such as a new off-leash dog park at Thompson Peak Park,” Ortega said.
The mayor also plans to strengthen ties with Scottsdale schools to improve learning opportunities for all.
As an avid volunteer who has served with the Scottsdale Sunrise Rotary Club and the reading program at Pueblo Elementary, Ortega believes in the power of community education and connection, sharing that “Scottsdale always surprises me with new things to love, even after 42 years.”