this police state thug is a tempe city council member and wants to be re-elected. it looks like he sleeps with former tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell
Copple remains humble, despite victories
Jahna Berry The Arizona Republic Feb. 10, 2006 12:00 AM
It takes more than a little prodding to get Councilman Leonard Copple to brag about himself. That modesty can be a problem on the campaign trail.
When Copple first ran for City Council in 1996, he refused to put up campaign signs, recalls former Tempe mayor and current state Sen. Harry Mitchell, D-Tempe. Back then, Copple said he thought that the signs cluttered up street corners.
Copple finally landed a City Council seat in 1998 -- this time with more signs -- but the 12-year councilman's reluctance to enter the limelight hasn't changed much, said Mitchell, a seasoned campaigner and state Democratic Party chairman.
"It's unfortunate," Mitchell said of his friend, "because he has a story to tell."
"The story he should tell," Mitchell continued, "is that he's been a successful attorney, that he lives in Tempe, that he has seen the city expand and change, and he has a sense of history in the city, which is important."
Copple was a vocal early supporter for light rail and public transit in general, supporters say, and Copple and other council members helped shepherd light rail over crucial hurdles - including a vote on the city transit tax, which helped bankroll Tempe's $185 million share of the light-rail line.
Yet Copple resists listing personal political accomplishments.
"Nope. I won't give you any," the 64-year-old said in an interview. "My attitude is that it's a council of seven elected officials and it takes four votes to make anything happen."
Eventually, he talked about his passion for light rail.
"Hugh (Mayor Hugh Hallman) and I, when we both got on the council in '98, we were just beginning to talk about light rail as part of our transit program," said Copple, who chairs the council's transportation committee. "The challenge now is to keep the businesses that we have in business for the next two years," he said, "and to try and minimize as much as possible the traffic disruption."
Copple is also a big supporter of the bus system. Last year, Tempe provided free bus passes to those ages 6-18. Copple and Councilwoman Barbara Carter want to expand the push to include discount bus passes for school district employees.
More recently, Copple played a role in Tempe's tourism push. When Tempe considered bringing a marathon to town, Copple said he traveled to San Diego, Washington, D.C., and other places that hosted similar events. When Tempe weighed a proposal to build a youth sports complex, Copple traveled to Kentucky to check out the business group that wants to run the facility.
Copple grew up in Yuma but has lived in Tempe for 36 years. During that time he devoted himself to a long list of city groups, including the Tempe Centers for Habilitation, and Tempe Sister Cities Corp. He was chairman in the early days of the merchant group that is now Downtown Tempe Community, and served on a litany of taskforces that examined city bonds, schools and aviation. Copple, a retired personal injury lawyer, closed his Tempe offices in 2002.
Now that he doesn't have to juggle council duties with his law practice, he has more time to sink his teeth into city issues, the councilman said.
Copple is a natural leader, says Mitchell, who as mayor tapped Copple to play a role in the early days of the DTC.
"He knew how to run a meeting, he was a fair person, he listens to everyone and people trusted him that he'd do the right thing," Mitchell said.
Campaigning for office is another story.
"He has his own ideas about how to run a campaign," Mitchell said.