February 1, 2006 - Don Cox sees a leadership void in the Oro Valley Town council. He believes he is the best candidate to fill that void.
"I think Oro Valley needs a plan, a three, five, and 10 year plan. We need to know which direction we want to go," Cox said.
Cox, a candidate in the 2006 Oro Valley town council election, thinks shifting the town's focus from residential to commercial development would move the town in the right direction.
"The town survived for years on building permits and impact fees. We don't have that income anymore," Cox said. "Bringing in businesses will put off a property tax for years."
Cox, 61, is a licensed realtor with the Long Reality Company, where he sells houses to many new Oro Valley residents. He believes this has taught him what the needs and priorities of Oro Valley residents are.
"More houses are sold because they are close to services. I don't like driving to the Tucson Mall just to buy a shirt," Cox said.
Cox moved to Oro Valley in 1997 with his wife Carolyn, a clinical care dietitian at Northwest Medical Center on La Cholla Boulevard. Born in Poplar Bluff, Mo., and raised in St. Louis, he spent five years in the U.S. Army which included a tour in Vietnam. He earned a Bronze Star and Vietnamese Gallantry Cross while in the service, and left the army with the rank of captain.
Cox earned a business degree from Pacific Western University and spent 26 years with a management company coordinating food service in hospitals. He spent some time in Tucson working at the University Medical Center before retiring and moving to Oro Valley, which he said appealed to him for many of the same reasons Oro Valley is growing so quickly.
"In Oro Valley, it's newer, it seems fresher. It feels more modern," Cox said.
He joined the Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission not long after moving to Oro Valley, where he is currently the vice chair. However, his first experience in local politics was as a campaign manager in Urbana, Ill., where he helped his candidate unseat the incumbent in a mayoral race by organizing canvassers to collect petition signatures. He says the experience taught him the difference one man can make in his community.
"In local elections, the individual's impact is much greater," Cox said.
Because of the responsibilites involved, council members should make being on the town council a top priority, he said.
"There are certain council members who take their position more seriously than others. I would approach the job differently," Cox said. "As far as the day to day running of the government, I'd like to see a more cohesive council."
Cox said he believes the town council needs members who are more committed to the job.
"Voters should elect someone who will be there on time, will do their homework, and listen to others, not just the small group of people who influence them. I look to people who serve on boards and commissions. There you'll see who's really involved," Cox said.
This election, he said, will be particularly important in deciding which direction the town will take, with the Oro Valley Marketplace incentive referendum being perhaps the clearest determinant of Oro Valley's commitment to commercial expansion.
"This referendum will show which direction the people want the town to go. It will send a clear message," Cox said. "Oro Valley is in the position where it's right on the edge of being a major city in Arizona. How we take the next step will be very important."
For Cox, that next step would be expanding retail businesses in Oro Valley to ensure that residents are making their consumer purchases and paying sales tax inside town limits rather than in Tucson or Marana.
"We pay too much in sales tax outside Oro Valley, we need to bring that money back into our town," Cox said. "We need an appropriate mix of commercial and residental development that supports the needs of our town. If Oro Valley can be the place where people can live, work, shop, and play, without traveling anywhere, that would be the ideal community."
Cox considered himself to be a fiscal conservative with liberal tendencies, a philosophy influenced in no small part by his years as a businessman.
"It's been proven over and over again that government does not run businesses well," Cox said.
Part of the reason he believes Oro Valley needs to generate more tax revenue is so it can move forward on expensive projects such as the Naranja Town Site regional park.
He also wants the council to get moving on historic preservation so that commercial development is not interrupted, such as in the area of Steam Pump Ranch.
Cox said he believes Oro Valley is also capable of bringing consumer spending into the town from surrounding areas.
"Many people come into Oro Valley and use our services," Cox said. "I don't think the majority of Oro Valley residents believe that only Oro Valley residents should be paying for Oro Valley services."
Cox said he believes the close attention Oro Valley residents pay to their government will ensure it is led in the right direction.
"We have a very active group of people here that are very active in the government. A lot of people think we're a bunch of snobby grouches in Oro Valley. We need to change that image because we are really a friendly community," Cox said.
Greg Holt covers Oro Valley and the Amphitheater School District. He can be reached at 797-4384 ext. 116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don H. Cox Bio:
Family: Married, no children
Eduction: B.S. Business Administration, Pacific Western University
Profession/Employer: Realtor - Self Employed
How long have you lived in Arizona/Oro Valley? Arizona 16 years, Oro Valley 8 years
Previous elected office: None
Other biographical data: Married 34 years; Vietnam veteran, awarded the Bronze Medal and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross; Served on Planning and Zoning Commission 2000 to 2005, last two years as vice chair and chair respectively; vice president of Copper Creek HOA in 2002; board member of the Oro Valley Optimist Club; Member of the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee
Why did you decide to run? I believe I can be a more effective Oro Valley councilperson than others seeking this office. Currently there is a leadership void on the Town Council. I will fill that leadership void. There is a lack of business acumen on the current Town Council. I have the business skills necessary to make sound financial decisions.
Major campaign themes: I will be a partner, not an adversary, to the citizens of Oro Valley and to the business community. I will make a high priority of developing a long range 10-year plan and compliment this plan with a financial road map. We must have regional approaches for regional issues. I will move forward, at a rapid pace, the transition of the Naranja Town Site to the Naranja Regional Park. I strongly support the Economic Development Agreement will lobby for its passage. I oppose a property tax.