The Explorer asked Oro Valley town council candidates eight questions. Here are the final four question and answers. Responses were edited for length.
5. Do you think the town should push forward with stalled plans to annex Arroyo Grande? Why or why not?
K.C. Carter: We are making good strides in move towards the Arroyo Grande. Good example is the plans by ADOT to put in animal crossings on the next section of Oracle Road going north. We (have) good people working on getting the process moving a direction that will result in a great addition to the town.
Don Emmons: The town did not stall the annexation, the state did. In my opinion we should push forward with the annexation of Arroyo Grande because I feel it would be better for the town of Oro Valley to be in line for the revenue that will be generated from the annexation.
Mark Finchem: I do. There are two important reasons: first, reducing the amount of unincorporated land in Pima County increases the tax revenue that flows back to Tucson from Phoenix. Making Arroyo Grande a part of Oro Valley would put it under the corporation umbrella. Secondly, Oro Valley would be in a position to protect and nurture this important open space for future generations.
Joe Hornat: We can work with the state to do that, yes I would pursue. Not to pursue this would be irresponsible to our citizens. We need to take control of the future that is around us and will affect us. We as a town are in a great position to make Arroyo Grande a study in how things should be done and cohesively planned
Matthew Rabb: Annexation is expensive. When the economic environment is conducive to the expansion of Oro Valley, we should be poised to move swiftly to secure Arroyo Grande into Oro Valley.
Mary Snider: The annexation of Arroyo Grande allows the town of Oro Valley the opportunity to control the eventual growth and development that will occur contiguous to our northern border. The State will eventually sell those lands, and Oro Valley has the resources to most effectively manage the development that will impact us. Oro Valley can provide the necessary protection to sensitive lands.
Lou Waters: Yes. I've already stated that I think it's important. Arroyo Grande is on our doorstep. The land will be sold. If we want to manage its use to insure compatibility with the Oro Valley General Plan, it is essential that we secure the land to prevent urban sprawl or worse. It's also an essential element of Oro Valley's future growth and fiscal sustainability.
6. How should the town promote business and economic development?
K.C. Carter: The town has to keep at promoting our lifestyle and put money where it will get results that make the message get out on our good schools, traffic is at good place right now. Our good streets have been addressed and we can point this out the public.
Don Emmons: Streamline the process in which businesses go through the process here. Streamline the DRB process, and make sure they know we are working in conjunction with them not in conflict with them.
Mark Finchem: Government was never intended to be a barrier to enterprise. First, demonstrate that the town is serious about helping local business succeed. Identify broken or missing processes; make sure the right talent is in the right position. Improve and streamline codes to eliminate ridiculous and out-of-date requirements.
Joe Hornat: We need to tout the things we have, schools, location, demographics, and public safety to name a few. We need to listen to the business community and have them explain to us what they need. The council needs to "re-engage" with them as neighbors…and of course "Shop Oro Valley."
Matthew Rabb: There are several inexpensive ways we can promote business and economic development. Our town Web site, for example, could easily showcase Oro Valley small businesses! We can also attract and retain businesses by engaging business owners in an open dialogue.
Mary Snider: Establishing a spirit of collaboration between the town and business owners, and streamlining the application and development process for new businesses are critical elements to economic development. The town should expedite review/revision of outdated policies and codes.
Lou Waters: Review policies that business find onerous to allow business leaders to flourish. "Flourish" in this environment can mean "survive." We're in a deep recession, business leaders are not confident and consumers are uncertain. Add it up and government from top down must facilitate business growth and job opportunities.
7. Do you think the town should continue financial support of the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce, TREO and/or Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau? Why or why not?
K.C. Carter: I believe we should take an approach that we need to revisit the use of money in some of the units that are working for the town. TREO is an example and many of the others that are on a hold at this time.
Don Emmons: To me, support would continue if it can be proven that we will get a good return on our investment.
Mark Finchem: I do not support status quo, blanket support of quasi-government, appointed organizations. The message is return on investment, results. I favor a "Pay-for-Performance" model that links accomplishment with compensation. Organizations such as TREO, TCVB and the chambers of commerce should be rewarded for their role in settling new businesses if a direct causal relationship can be shown.
Joe Hornat: Yes, with provision that we have a better understanding of how they work and our concerns for how we "profit" from their efforts. We need them to "front" for us in the real world to attract business and people to our area. Plant the seeds so the corn can grow to harvest.
Matthew Rabb: Not right now. While these organizations can provide tangible benefits to our town, I believe that providing a subsidy to these organizations is finically irresponsible considering our town's financial situation at this time.
Mary Snider: The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce no longer receives funding from the Town. Partnering with TREO and/or the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau makes sense as they encourage the attraction and retention of high-tech/bio-tech partners and promote tourism/resort/convention activities.
Lou Waters: Yes. Any business entity that can assist Oro Valley through this economic "perfect storm" and its future prosperity should be embraced. If it benefits Oro Valley, it's a positive step. To stop selling and marketing during a recession causes an "inverse spiral" that can only lead to bankruptcy.
8. The town has a reputation as being business unfriendly. Do you agree with that assessment and what do think can be done about it?
K.C. Carter: As far as the town being unfriendly, this many times is pushed by persons or business areas that want extra notice for items. I have worked at getting some of the hard spots reviewed for correction or modification. When you get into some of the complaints you find that other agencies have a part of the blame.
Don Emmons: I agree. The reputation is based on past experiences. Again, we have to streamline the process where businesses can become convinced that is has become easier to work with the town.
Mark Finchem: I agree that Oro Valley has a serious "brand" issue with the business community. While every corner of Oro Valley government may believe that they're delivering great customer service, the customer base-local business isn't buying it. The hue and cry we have heard about something as simple as our sign code, highlights the lack of sensitivity our current leadership has.
Joe Hornat: We do have that reputation. I think a review of the codes and process's in conjunction with the actual developers (and builders) would go a long way to resolving this and provide the right changes. Let's make things simpler and faster to bring projects to fruition in the interest of all and never at the sacrifice of the quality we have.
Matthew Rabb: Bureaucratic red tape certainly creates the perception we're not business friendly. I think the permitting process could be simplified and revised while maintaining the standards Oro Valley residents have come to expect. At the same time, however, we must recognize that our community does have high standards.
Mary Snider: Agree. Business owners have relayed numerous stories to me about their unsatisfactory experiences locating in Oro Valley. Other business owners are dissatisfied or have left town because of broken promises. Despite improvements that may have been made recently, Oro Valley is perceived as being unfriendly to business.
Lou Waters: Yes. We have business people saying, "we will never do business" in Oro Valley. You cannot put a tourniquet on the lifeblood of our community by tying the hands of business. The codes and processes need review. We need to streamline the process and responsibly welcome business. These are not "special interests." They are friends and neighbors who love our quality of life as much as we do.