A Tucson business entrepreneur is challenging two-term Supervisor Ann Day for the Republican Party’s nomination as Pima County Supervisor in District 1.
Joe Higgins, 39, is in his first run for public office. He has chaired the small business panel for the Tucson Regional Economic Development, and the Tucson Small Business Commission.
Day, 70, has been a rancher, teacher and family counselor. She served in the Arizona State Senate for 10 years, and was elected to the board of supervisors for the first time in 2000.
District 1 extends east of Interstate 10, north to the Pinal County line, south to River Road and east along the Catalina Foothills. It includes the communities of Oro Valley, Catalina, Tortolita, Casas Adobes and unincorporated Pima County.
No Democrat has filed for the seat.
In her campaign, Day has talked about the issues of growth pressures and taxation, and the more recent concern regarding economic downturn.
“In tough economic times, government must decide whether it is going to raise taxes or cut spending,” Day said on her web site. “Anything else is a budgeting gimmick.”
Day has expressed frustration in curbing spending, with Democrats holding a 3-2 advantage on the board of supervisors. Higgins challenges Day’s leadership in that regard.
“Property taxes in Pima County are growing faster than the people’s ability to pay,” said Higgins, who cites a $640 million increase in Pima County’s budget over eight years. “Our elderly, working families, and small businesses are under tremendous financial stress. During the crisis, Pima County grew by 13 percent last year alone.”
Day calls for “managed quality growth,” with sensitivity to resource sustainability. She suggests economic development in Pima County’s “new economic drivers – biotech, solar, optics and other emerging tech industries.”
Higgins urges leadership and partnership in economic development. “We need to lower taxes and remove barriers to economic development that spur the activity needed to support a vibrant community,” said Higgins, who is concerned with Pima County’s reliance upon government as a source of employment.
The candidates have conflicting opinions about Day’s relationships with outlying communities.
“I meet regularly with Oro Valley and Marana,” Day said. “I’ve built good working and personal relationships with regional leaders.” She calls for “regional cooperation among the county, cities, the state and our bordering counties.”
“Regional cooperation is lacking in District 1 and must be changed,” Higgins believes. His impression from Oro Valley and Marana leaders is that the relationships with Pima County range from “rocky” to “downright court battles.”
Higgins has repeated calls for Pima County to support Oro Valley in its annexation and development of the state Arroyo Grande parcel. “Pima County’s role in this process should not be to block a partner city’s desires to take responsibility,” Higgins said. “Pima County’s role is to ensure that the road and water infrastructure is in place.”
On Arroyo Grande, Pima County “must work with Oro Valley and the State Land Trust Department to ensure that if growth occurs, it is smart and managed growth,” Day said. She has called for “detailed infrastructure planning up front to ensure there is adequate water, sewer service, parks, schools and a sufficient transportation network in an area that is already under strain.”