July 20, 2005 - A relaxed and confident Bob Allen stood outside the Marana Municipal Complex as he reflected on his recent interview with the town council.
The retired Tucson police sergeant and former University of Arizona baseball player said he felt at ease with council members, who he admitted were quite pointed when they asked if he'd be willing to make tough decisions that might affect the people he knew. That included his friends who are police officers.
Allen, one of three finalists chosen July 12 to interview for the vacancy on the council, said he'd stand ready and willing to make fair and impartial decisions from the dais.
"Always tell the truth, then you don't have to remember what you said," stated Allen, who has served on the town's Planning and Zoning Commission for the past three years.
Shortly after interviewing two more candidates - John Dailey, a Pima Community College faculty member, and former Town Manager Hurvie Davis - council members voted unanimously to appoint Allen to the council while a large crowd cheered on.
Even Davis, who many considered a favorite in the race, smiled and applauded as Allen approached the dais to swear his oath of office. Davis and Allen, strangers to each other until recently, spent part of the last hour swapping old stories about their time in Tucson, where Davis served as director of the city's transportation department for many years.
"We had a good discussion," Davis said. "I think he's a mighty fine fellow and he'll do an outstanding job for the town."
Each of the 16 applicants for the vacancy, except Jane Cannon, who was absent, were given two minutes to publicly address the council before council members narrowed down the pool to three.
"He's an easygoing guy, a team player and very well-liked by everyone on the council," Mayor Ed Honea said of Allen. "I think he'll fit in very well."
Allen's appointment to the council leaves open his seat on the planning commission, which seems to have become somewhat of a prerequisite for joining the council in recent years. That's the route council members Tim Escobedo and Patti Comerford took, and that's also what set Allen apart from the other candidates last week, Vice Mayor Herb Kai said.
"The term on the planning commission really made the decision. The council thought that was very important," he said. "When I got on the council, the planning commission didn't have that much going on, but now it's got a more important mission with what's going on with our town."
Allen is now the third Continental Ranch resident on the council, joining Comerford and Councilman Jim Blake.
"They're a team," Allen said of the council. "They're good down-to-earth people and they care about this community far above anything and back."
Allen's integrity may have been on display June 29 when he excused himself from discussions during a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting because he thought his connections to The Pines Golf Club might strike up a conflict of interest. His daughter works at The Pines, where Allen has served as the club's head professional and where Standard Pacific Homes is fighting for the town's approval of a new residential development.
Allen, who joined the commission in 2002, has lived in the Tucson area since 1971 after being recruited to play baseball for the University of Arizona. He was later drafted to the pros by Kansas City but ended up staying put. He retired from the Tucson Police Department in 1999.
His wife Sharon was recently promoted to Tucson's assistant chief of police. His daughter Jessica is a Pima Community College student and his son Travis will attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point next year.
Allen will serve the remaining two years of the term vacated by Honea, who is filling the remaining two years of Bobby Sutton Jr.'s term as mayor. Sutton resigned in April after being indicted on federal charges of conspiracy and attempted extortion for allegedly abusing his power as mayor while trying to extort money from Waste Management.
While some admitted Sutton was on the back of their minds last week, his name was never mentioned above a whisper level during the event attended by dozens, including everyone from Tucson City Manager Mike Hein to developer Greg Wexler.
Speculation that Davis had clinched the position buzzed in some crowds while council members deliberated behind closed doors for a length of time. Some cracked jokes that they were already processing Davis' W-4 form and engraving his nameplate.
Marana resident Dorothy Taylor, who sought the council vacancy, was among the last to leave and admitted she left surprised that Davis didn't get the spot.
"I think everybody was surprised," she said. "I think everybody had expected a different outcome, but I was very happy with the choice they made."
Many thought Davis was a shoo-in, especially after his comments appeared in the EXPLORER saying he was contacted by town officials who encouraged him to seek the position. He later retracted his statement, saying it was town residents who encouraged him.
Sunflower resident Jack Noble, chairman of the town's Board of Adjustments, said he submitted an application but withdrew it upon learning that Davis and a handful of other qualified candidates were running for the position.
"That's quite noble of Mr. Noble," quipped Davis, also a Sunflower resident, who said he was pleased with the council's choice.
"The town moves on. And new faces and so forth. That's good," he said. "I'm just glad they had so much competition. I hope next time around, next election, it's the same way."
Davis alluded to the larger story that culminated last week, which is that 16 Maranans, each of differing backgrounds, came out of the woodwork to seek the council vacancy in a town that hasn't seen a contested election in six years. Honea acknowledged that fact, encouraging those who applied to seek positions on the town's various boards and committees.
Taylor spoke to Honea after the meeting and declared her intentions to seek the vacancy on the planning commission, which Honea said the town will try to fill in the next month. Taylor and former Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler, who also applied for the council vacancy, said they plan to run for the council in 2007.
"I think I'll have a lot better chance running a campaign for the council in 18 months," said Ziegler, who admitted she had a strike against her after asking for Sutton's resignation in April. "I would do a lot better with the public at large."
The rise of Dailey as a potential future star in Marana politics is another story that emerged last week. One of the three finalists and a newcomer to town government, Dailey had a foot in the door as the son-in-law of longtime Marana resident Karl Horvath and next-door neighbor of former Assistant Town Manager Jaret Barr. Dailey also was recently nominated to join the Marana Health Center board of directors, which Honea's wife sits on.
Dailey said he was flattered to make the short list and now plans to seek the vacancy on the planning commission.
"It was an enjoyable experience and the beginning of what I hope is going to be a very enjoyable journey," said Dailey, who admitted he has a learning curve ahead of him.
"The town is growing at such a pace and with such an enthusiasm, I just hope, as Mayor Honea indicated, that everyone gets involved in other ways and that's what I intend to do," he said.
Honea acknowledged the importance of having a strong leadership team in place since the town, in his estimation, will grow faster in the next two years than it has in the past two. With the vacancy filled and the hanging cloud of Sutton's indictment moving farther away, Honea said he's confident the council will move forward.
"It was just another thing that was hanging over our head," he said. "I think we're pretty much back to normal."