Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith was unopposed in his quest for reelection in He resigned from office this year to run for governor of Arizona, but was defeated in the Republican primary by Doug Ducey, failing to win a single county.
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With 450,000 residents spread over nearly 140 square miles, Mesa is very sparsely populated for an urban area. By comparison, Washington, D.C.’s population, while 40 percent larger, resides in an area half Mesa’s size. But new developments, including new apartment buildings and a light rail system, might change that. Fiesta Mall, depicted here, lies in the heart of Mesa’s slowly urbanizing downtown. Mark Peterson/Redux
The city finished construction of the Mesa Arts Center in 2005. With four performing arts venues, five art galleries, 14 art studios and numerous classes available to the public, the center is the largest such complex in Arizona and is a centerpiece of the city’s developing downtown. In 2012, the Mesa Arts Center hosted a debate for Republican presidential contenders. Mark Peterson/Redux
Despite the brutal toll the 2008 financial crisis took on Mesa, the city is continuing to lure in development through pro-growth conservative governance. Last February, Mesa scored a major coup when Apple announced it would construct a new synthetic glass production facility that will create 700 full-time jobs and 1,300 part-time construction jobs. Mesa’s downtown now boasts five liberal arts colleges and a new local hospital.