So far, the campaign for Mayor of Phoenix has been a pretty lackluster affair, marked mostly by the recitation of safe talking points and the occasional semi-nasty aside. Can’t say as I blame the candidates and their consultants for this state of things. Given that virtually no one in the city is paying attention to this race yet (except for the innermost insiders), I imagine most camps’ strategy goes something like this:

Let’s try not to screw anything up. Then, sometime around the 1st of August, let’s spend like crazy in a 30 day sprint to Election Day on August 30th.

Money is tight. Attention spans are short. These facts advocate for the “be quiet and wait” strategy, especially for the 3 real candidates in the race: Greg Stanton, Peggy Neely and Claude Mattox.

Sadly, this means the next 6 weeks on the campaign trail could be very dull. Which is precisely why I’m glad Tea Party favorite Jennifer Wright is in the race.

Wright has precisely zero chance of becoming the next Mayor of Phoenix. None. Zip. Zilch.

Wright. Wrong.

Wright. Wrong.

But she is the most entertaining candidate out on the stump.

Take, for example, the most recent mayoral forum, hosted by the Downtown Voices Coalition on Thursday, June 9th. There, before a crowd of people who believe that downtown is the core of the city and a hub for economic development, entertainment venues and education, Wright argued that downtown is basically just another set of blocks in Phoenix. As she put it:

“I don’t believe the city should invest dollars in downtown. Once government gets out of the way, you see growth and development and downtown revival.”

I love the fact that not only was Wright dead wrong, but she was passionate about her wrongness.

In the 21st century and in the midst of the worst economic crash since World War II, government needs to do more than “get out of the way” to pave the way for economic revitalization. Government needs to efficiently collaborate and nurse along businesses big and small, making permitting easy and fast and finding ways to help businesses access capital. If that means creating foreign trade zones, do it. If that means spending a little bit in the form of tax credits on enticing big employers to come to Phoenix and create thousands of jobs, do that, too. And if that means creatively finding limited public dollars to help institutions like ASU and the U of A build even more critical mass downtown, then that too needs to be done.

The same holds for leveraging relationships with other cities and pushing for cross-Valley development, as opposed to pitting one city against another.

Cities that just “get out of the way” won’t encourage growth. They’ll miss opportunities, chances that will be captured either by neighboring cities (see “Mesa lands First Solar” stories galore) or by states like California intent on poaching our big employers.

I get that my argument is outside of Wright’s steady diet of red meat and easy talking points. And I know that it’s not as entertaining as being the contrarian, arguing against everything and everyone. But I do believe it … just as I believe Wright will be entertaining to the bitter end, when she gets maybe 9 percent of the vote and goes back to being, of all things, a lawyer.

In the mean time, keep up the good work, Jennifer. You have my attention, if not my vote.