Jobs and economic development should be the top priority for the next mayor of Phoenix, Gov. Jan Brewer said this week, in explaining her endorsement of Peggy Neely for mayor.
Brewer also told The Republic that she wanted a mayor who "believed in the rule of law," referring to the state's strict anti-immigration policy.
Current Mayor Phil Gordon, who is in his final year and cannot seek re-election because of term limits, was one of the most outspoken critics of Senate Bill 1070 after it was signed into law by Brewer last year.
Brewer said she wanted to work with a mayor who would partner with her office and Arizona legislators to grow the region's economy while not "undermining what we're doing at the state" level.
She's also looking for a mayor who will focus on bringing science, technology and clean-energy jobs to Arizona, while strengthening research partnerships with the state's universities.
"That's where the high-paying jobs are going to be," Brewer said.
HighGround Public Affairs Consultants is running Neely's campaign. The same firm ran Brewer's gubernatorial campaign last year. But HighGround consultants say that's not why Brewer is endorsing Neely.
The governor said her relationship with Neely went back to the days when Brewer was on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Neely on the City Council. The two worked together on projects such as expanding the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Neely's northeast Phoenix district.
Brewer also said Neely would strongly back SB1070, Arizona's tough illegal-immigration law. Gordon referred to the bill as a national embarrassment for Arizona and last year wanted Phoenix to sue the state over the legislation.
"We need an elected official to support the laws of the state and see that they are enforced," Brewer told The Republic.
Brewer made national headlines recently for criticizing the Obama administration's latest immigration policy as "backdoor amnesty," and for having similar critical comments removed from her Facebook page by the social-media company's administrators.
Neely welcomed the endorsement and featured Brewer prominently on a recent mailer.
"I will work hand-in-hand with her administration to make Phoenix and Arizona number one in job creation," she said.
All candidates running for mayor except Greg Stanton, a Democrat, say they support SB 1070. Anna Brennan, Wes Gullett, Claude Mattox, and Jennifer Wright and Neely are Republicans like Brewer.
The election officially is nonpartisan and candidates are not presented with a party affiliation on the city ballot.
Party aside, Brewer said Neely stood out for different reasons.
"She has very strong instincts about her constituency," Brewer said. "She has her ears to the ground and wants to serve the people who elected her."