Here’s Why Harper and the Moths Frontman Harper Lines is Running for Tempe City Council

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Local music fans will already know Harper Lines as the frontman of Harper and the Moths, the popular dance-pop group that’s been around for almost a decade.

But now Lines, 39, is looking to add a new line to his resume: Tempe City Councilman.

He is no stranger to community service. His efforts include serving on the Tempe Arts and Culture Commission and volunteering at Camp AZDA, a summer camp for children and teens with diabetes.

“If you had asked me two years ago if I ever thought I would run for city council, I would have said no,” Lines said.

Then the pandemic hit.

“It gave me time to reevaluate my priorities and see what I wanted to get more involved in, and I knew I wanted to get more involved in the city,” he says.

Lines, who works as a community outreach specialist for Sonora Quest Laboratories, applied and was accepted to the Arts and Culture Commission, a volunteer organization that, through the Community Services Department, advises the board council on artistic and cultural issues.

From that experience, Lines says, he realized he wanted to do even more civic work.

There is a lot to do to try to get elected. Lines had to file a statement of intent. He had to form his committee. And then there were the signatures.

As Lines explains, to be on the ballot, he had to get 1,000 signatures from registered voters living in Tempe. Normally, the requirements are higher, but due to the pandemic, the city council passed an ordinance to lower the threshold.

Lines estimates he knocked on more than 5,000 doors to get around 1,500 signatures. He invested about 15 to 20 hours a week for four months in the effort.

In November, he was certified to be on the ballot for the March 8 primary election. The ballots were mailed last week. He is one of seven candidates vying for three spots.

Lines, who grew up in Tempe, says “part of the reason I wanted to get involved with the city council is that they have to vote on development, and that’s future planning. That’s how we let’s envision our city operating for not only the next five to ten years, but we’re talking about 40 years.

“The bottom line — infrastructure, spending, making sure our streets are paved, our water is safe — is really important to me,” he said, adding that most Tempe residents care about “affordable housing, homelessness, transportation initiatives, preserving open spaces, and then, of course, energy solutions.”

He says he familiarized himself with all these questions by reading the general plan of Tempe.

“I watched what the experts had to say about the issues we’re going to face in terms of development as we expand. It’s estimated that between 2010 and 2040 we will have 55,000 new residents in Tempe. That’ is a lot, and we can’t keep building…. There must be more concrete solutions.

Lines says a good example “is what’s happening right now in the Maple-Ash-Farmer-Wilson area in North Tempe. [The city] is conducting an eight-week test with the Transportation Authority to see how best to route traffic through this corridor, as there is so much development going on there and it is impacting residents.”

It points to options such as transport hubs, where motorists could park their cars and access their bikes from a place where they are securely stored.

Click to enlarge

Lines (second from left) with Harper and the Moths.

Jim Louveau

Whatever the election, there are big things in store for Harper and the Moths this year.

The group has not released an album since 2019 dark enough to dancebut Lines says new music is on the way.

“We’ve been writing non-stop during the pandemic,” he says. “We’re trying to come up with a new EP, hopefully. We have some songs that we’re excited about, but we’re in no rush to play live right now. And we’re reshaping our sound, because we’ve released so much music and played so many shows that we thought it was a good time to take a break and put our energy into things we’re passionate about rather than just playing live. But you’ll see us. We’ll be playing this year.”

If Lines wins, he will have to resign from the Arts and Culture Commission. If he loses, he will continue to serve the city in that capacity. Either way, he will make his community a priority.

“My primary goal is simply to affect, in a positive way, outcomes for all Tempe residents,” Lines says.

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