Joe Higgins, Republican candidate for Pima County supervisor in District 1, believes county government should cooperate with cities and towns as an ally, and not pose as an adversary.
On subjects such as the proposed Oro Valley annexation of state-controlled Arroyo Grande, “the county needs to start working with the local townships to support them in their growth,” Higgins said.
“Let the people of Oro Valley decide what they want that to look like. To say Oro Valley’s not going to be a good steward of this is not a fair statement.”
In a March 3 letter to Oro Valley Councilman Barry Gillaspie, incumbent Supervisor Ann Day criticized a lack of formal communication from the town to the county, and expressed concerns about the protection of open space and wildlife corridors in Arroyo Grande.
“We are not trying to control the town’s destiny,” Day wrote. “We simply want our concerns addressed. … We will not compromise our conservation, development, and infrastructure standards.”
If Arroyo Grande is annexed, “Oro Valley will determine the infrastructure,” Higgins said. He believes the county must assist, and get involved with the Arizona Department of Transportation to address impacts on Oracle Road and the community of Catalina.
Higgins suggests the county has planned poorly for transportation infrastructure in the Northwest.
“Tangerine, still, in a heavy downpour shuts down,” he said. “Orange Grove, too. Orange Grove is still one lane” in sections. “I would attest that’s poor planning.”
Higgins says “things are coming along” with the Regional Transportation Authority. “But where was she eight years ago? What roads do we need to build? The west end is where people live, where the growth is.
“There’s not a lot of conversations between elected officials,” Higgins said. “I don’t see a real dialogue going on. I hope to bring in a fresh thought, a fresh approach to that.”
If Arroyo Grande is in Oro Valley, “that’s one less of a big chunk of property we have to manage,” Higgins said. Maricopa County is more efficient than Pima County, in the candidate’s view, because it has “allowed cities to take over more of the responsibilities. Where can we combine efforts?
“There’s a lot of talk of a regional water authority,” Higgins said. “Water’s going to become a bigger and bigger regional conversation going forward. I’m talking to all those people.”
He wants to study regional government health care coverage for employees. “Can we pool employees? I don’t know if it’d work, but let’s look at it.”
Information technology could be shared, too. “How do we make ourselves more efficient?”
Day has “done an amazing job, the last 18-20 years, in public service. The constituents are looking for a stronger steward of government, and someone available and engaged in the process. It’s time for a change in the way we’ve always done business and government.”
He has hired Sherry Potter, a campaign veteran, as his manager.
“We’re going to spend a lot of money, and get the message out,” Higgins said. “I’m not afraid to work. I’ll get in front of every business club, chambers of commerce.
“I have shown a demonstrated history of being open to ideas, to researching, to listening to all sides, and to jumping in with both feet.”