all the canidates for Tempe City Council are bible thumpers when it comes to letting a topless bar do business in the city of empe!

Tempe council candidates debate strip club by Grayson Steinberg

published on Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Candidates running for Tempe City Council debated a proposed strip club, property taxes and light rail costs before a packed auditorium Monday.

About 100 people attended the candidate forum at Tempe City Hall.

The candidates disagreed on whether they would approve the creation of Tempe's first strip club on McClintock Drive north of the Loop 202.

"I could never in good conscience vote to allow something like this," said long-time community activist Onnie Shekerjian.

A strip club would harm efforts to revitalize the north Tempe corridor along McClintock Drive, one of the gateways to the city, said incumbent Councilman Ben Arredondo.

"I want people to know they are coming into a good, wholesome city," he added.

But incumbent Councilman Leonard Copple and Corey Woods, an ASU graduate student, both said they would consider the applicant's proposal first before casting any vote.

Woods added that he would never vote to build a strip club in a neighborhood.

In the past, the City Council kept adult-oriented businesses away from homes by allowing them only in industrial areas, Copple said.

Restricting the proposed club similarly could be an option, he added.

But all the candidates opposed raising property taxes to pay for further city improvements, like parks and museum renovations.

A May 16 bond election could provide $210 million for such services.

The city's secondary property tax rate is currently $1.40 for every $100 of assessed value. Earlier this month, the City Council debated lowering the property tax rate to $1.35.

Residents could see their taxes increase regardless of whether the rate is lowered, Shekerjian said.

Elderly homeowners on fixed incomes could bear the brunt of higher property taxes due to rising home prices, she said.

"We're going to tax them to death," Shekerjian added.

All five candidates also said they opposed taking the city into debt by funding unanticipated operational costs for Tempe's portion of the light rail system.

Tempe's transit tax and a half-cent county transportation sales tax extended by Proposition 400 in 2004 should cover such costs for 20 years, Copple said.

"I currently don't see the city going into debt to fund the light rail," Copple said.

Extending the sales tax was important because most major mass transit projects are funded by public money, candidate Shana Ellis said.

Arredondo and Woods said they opposed raising taxes to cover excess operational costs.

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