I attended the Chamber of Commerce forum for Marana Town Council candidates. I was late, but I was there long enough.

The forum was poorly attended, but the most important people were there — the candidates. Two years ago, two candidates ducked forums including one put on by students at Marana High School, claiming that forum was somehow “rigged” because the teacher involved was friends with another candidate. The Dogpatch tradition was alive and well into 2007. By the way, I’m the guy who named them that years ago.

I’m happy to report that the Town of Marana has finally grown out of that phase. All four candidates didn’t look down at their name tags once to remember who they were, none of them drooled, the two males had their flies zipped and the two females didn’t resemble the cast of Redneck Mama 3. Yes, it used to be that bad.

The victors in the primary, Herb Kai and Patti Cornerford, were part of that “ancien regime” as is Councilwoman Carol McGorray. Councilman John Post is one step removed, having been appointed by the present council, which also contains Russell Clanagan and Roxanne Zeigler, who weren’t. I suspect the indictment (and eventual acquittal) of former Mayor Bobby Sutton was a defining moment that gave time for reflection. The old council all but slobbered over Sutton in a burst of bad taste on the scale of a Chris Matthews report on Michelle Obama.

Post appears to be the pick of the litter. A lifelong resident of a town that has few, he would bring some institutional memory. Unlike some other lifers, he’s bright enough to use it properly. Carol McGorray has grown into the job over the years and become acceptable. The remaining candidate, Larry Steckler, a recent Las Vegas import, squeezed by in the primary over Bret Summers by one vote, which does not exactly leave him poised for victory with no campaign budget, particularly considering his sometimes quirky responses.

Kelle Maslyn may be the best financed of the remaining candidates, and the most controversial. The other three are registered Republicans and have apparently bought that non-partisan election stuff. The Democrats haven’t, giving Maslyn $1,000 and other assistance, as has the liberal PAC Arizona’s List with $500. Some Republicans whine about this, but there’s no law against it and it’s time for the GOP to play the game too. Today’s local councilman or school board member is tomorrow’s state representative. See Young Wright, Nancy (D-26).

More controversial for Maslyn is that over 90 percent of her campaign funds come from outside Marana, including $390 maximum contributions from Tucson City Manager Mike Hein’s wife and one of his assistants, plus the same from Gary Hayes, executive director of PAG, Dan Sullivan, a PAG consultant, and Marana’s lobbyist, Mike Racy. Isn’t this the kind of stuff Democrats get upset about and yell “corruption” when it’s done by a Republican?

Hopefully, this isn’t part of Hein’s exit strategy to return to his old job as Marana town manager. Hopefully, for the good of the whole valley, the bozos and bozettes he now works for won’t have canned him by the time you read this. The Tucson City Council has consistently crippled Hein’s effectiveness by threats, and allowed rogue bureaucrats to make separate deals with various council members. They’ve made Byzantium analogous to a pre-school by comparison. They have also insured that if he’s gone, there’s no way, even in this job market, he could be replaced by anybody you’d want because they wouldn’t want them. See Basketball, UofA.

Good news — Marana no longer resembles Dogpatch. Bad news — Tucson now does.

Listen to Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 690 AM.

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