There has been speculation, much of it unfortunate, about the motivation behind the realignment of some pavement preservation dollars at a recent Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Let me state this unequivocally - this decision was not about cronyism, as has been alleged by my District 1 colleague (Ally Miller). This decision was not about retaliation or even about picking favorites. This decision was about one thing and one thing only - saving children.
Colossal Cave Road is not in my district, but this one-mile, two-lane road is bisected by multiple railroad tracks and runs by not only 100 percent of the businesses in that area, but also two schools serving approximately 1,400 elementary and middle school students.
Unfortunately, given our limited resources, we have to settle on priorities. When we have $270 million in road needs, each and every allocation means some projects will get funding and others will have to wait. Vail residents, however, face a problem far larger in scope than whose potholes need repair; and it is a problem that demands a solution. Our children’s safety is paramount.
There seems to be a misperception that the board has been obligated to divide road repairs into some equal allotment.
Let me note that this has never been the case, and District 1 has been the beneficiary of that policy for many years. The District has 28 percent of the county’s street miles, which is smaller than my district but comparable with District 4 on the east side.
But if you look at the bond funding allocated to each district for new roadway capacity, 64 percent of the funding has been steered to District 1. That’s where the needs were, and you didn’t see any of the remaining four districts demanding equal treatment, even though the four of us were sharing the remaining 36 percent of the resources. We had a serious need emerge in the Vail area.
This board has long had a history of working well together.
During his tenure, Supervisor Ray Carroll has often expressed a far different opinion than the Board majority on a host of high-profile issues; from our budget to our county administrator’s contract and whether we should have a sales tax. Supervisor Ann Day, similarly, asked pointed and probing questions routinely. For that matter, the Democrats on the board don’t even agree all the time.
At no point has there been retaliation for those differences of opinion or for suggesting alternative solutions. In fact, suggesting alternative solutions, as the District 1 supervisor did, is an expected part of the process. It is through that kind of dialogue – with dialogue being the operative word – that we move this community forward.
Effective representation is not rooted in finger-pointing and inflammatory rhetoric. It must be based on mutual respect and open dialogue in a collaborative process. We all serve as advocates for the constituents who elect us to office, and we give voice to their needs. But there are times when parochialism does not serve the greater good, and this is true regardless of politics or personality.