Corey Woods who is running for Tempe City Council doesn't say enough for you to figure out if he is for the police state!

Political activity is natural for City Council candidate

Jahna Berry The Arizona Republic Feb. 16, 2006 12:00 AM

City Council candidate Corey Woods knows that some voters are reluctant to elect a 27-year-old. That's why, he says, he's willing to work twice as hard for every vote.

While other candidates could depend on a vast network of friends to help them collect about 1,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot, Woods, who has lived in Tempe less than three years, could not. So for more than three months, he spent his weekends in front of the Tempe Public Library, clipboard in hand, in a suit and tie. He collected all but a few of his 1,238 signatures himself.

"I try to live every day as if it's my last," Woods said recently. "You can think, 'Run when you are 40.' Forty is not necessarily promised. My goal is to bring people into the fold. You've got to give people a reason to vote."

Woods, a graduate student who says that he plans to make Tempe his home, says his passionate opposition to Tempe's attempt to seize property owners' land for the Tempe Marketplace mall and racial problems in the city Public Works Department helped inspire his run for City Council.

So did his childhood, he said.

"I got involved in this because being raised in a certain kind of family gets you involved in political action early," Woods said. "I thought it was normal to have parents talk about social issues and politics and economics for two hours at the dinner table."

Woods was born in Atlanta, but his family moved often because his now-retired father worked for the Urban League for 17 years in several cities, including Detroit and Anderson, Ind. Woods' mother was a New York City schoolteacher for 30 years.

Woods earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan and plans to pick up a master's from Arizona State University in May. He's now an ASU teaching assistant, finishing up the master's before starting a Ph.D. program.

Candidates from the ASU community, particularly students, can face an uphill struggle for credibility. But some, such as Ed Ableser, have been more successful.

Ableser is a 27-year-old mental health counselor and ASU faculty associate who unsuccessfully ran for the District 17 House seat in 2004. But he snared so many votes - he got more than one of the incumbents in that race -- that he's considered a front-runner for the Democrats in the September primary for the state Legislature.

Woods has the right mindset to win, Ableser said.

"When you have a young, passionate person embracing the community . . . there is a lot of nervousness and skepticism," said Ableser, who is Woods' friend. "He is legitimate. He's a genuine person. He's articulate, he's not politician-esque."

"People in Tempe will be pleased andsurprised at how great he does" on Election Day, Ableser added. "Either way, it will be a victory for him."

In the past, Tempe has been criticized for limiting leadership to a few cliques, said Nicholas Appleton, an ASU professor who is Woods' campaign manager and his faculty adviser.

On one side is the cadre of old Tempe families. On the other side are "fiscal conservatives" such as Mayor Hugh Hallman, who have their own supporters, he said.

"Here you have Corey, who is not committed to either of those camps, who is a free thinker," said Appleton, a longtime Tempe resident. "In a sense, that's nice. On the other hand it's a disadvantage to him because he doesn't have political machine supporters behind him, pushing him through."

What he does have, Woods says, is a determination to win.

"I will probably keep running," he said, "until I win."

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