As a son of Greek immigrants that landed at Ellis Island in the '20s, my vision of America was shaped by the values of a strong family, religion and love for country.
It is said that when two Greeks get together, you will soon have three arguments. In Greece, it's a national pastime to sip coffee at the outdoor kafenio (café) and discuss politics, the nature of life and all things relevant. I guess that's why Greek philosophy is studied at universities throughout the world. Therefore, my DNA says good government is by the people and for the people.
This article is about where we've been and where we are now. During the last 15 years our vision and future has been denigrated by the interests of the few. In my view, Oro Valley must define what is meant by a quality of life. Is it less commercial intrusion and commercial blight? Is it more housing, or perhaps a greater role for our cultural footprint, or stronger, fiscally responsible government?
I had a vision then and I still do. My vision is that what defines us as an exceptional community is our wondrous natural landscapes and mountain vistas. Oro Valley is a special place where hundreds of volunteers shape the sense of community who contribute towards the needs and direction of the town. It is this quality of life that has attracted people from all over the country to move to Oro Valley. Over 25 years ago, the town created a vision and we invested in pursuing that vision, but alas, over the last 12 years we have seen a decline.
How do we define what we want this town to be? Do we want the town to be lit up at night from dusk to dawn in order to generate more tax dollars? Do we want to dilute our General Plan and all our zoning codes in order to bring greater unprecedented sprawl? Do we sacrifice aesthetics for income?
What direction do we follow in this election? Do we continue to allow more ugly walls on Oracle Road? Wasn't Oracle Road meant to be a scenic corridor? Wasn't Oracle meant to have trees lined on both sides? What happened to the beautiful vegetation that was removed from the roadway islands between Linda Vista and Pusch View Lane? Well, they aren't there now either. What is also not there is the mayor who sat at all the Oracle roadway meetings with ADOT for five years and never, I repeat never brought it up.
Now comes the hard part; how do we keep our town special, unique and not like where we chose to move away from? We moved to Oro Valley to get away from clutter, overbuilding, strip malls and asphalt. We invested our life savings and our future retirement to live in a community of excellence and beauty. We have created the best police department in Arizona, and the Oro Valley Police Department is the envy of communities throughout Arizona. The majority of town staff is talented, hard-working individuals. As the years have gone by we have voted into office candidates that made campaign promises which were only to be broken after the swearing-in ceremony.
So here we are again at a critical juncture in the future of Oro Valley. Some very important questions need to be asked. There are no "do-overs," no second chances. Ask yourself at this election on May 18: Which candidates will answer the call and be most able to direct our town into the future as you envision it to be? For town council, there are two seats and three candidates with comparable talents and a desire to be positive. The mayoral election will be more challenging: experience versus no experience; heavy special interests; fiscal responsibility versus "let's raid the contingency fund and we'll worry about it next year" mentality; and most importantly a sense of "let's relax our standards." Will new mayoral leadership attract more dollar stores to avert a property tax?
It's puzzling that the individuals who would denigrate our vistas for commercial rewards have their businesses in Oro Valley because Oro Valley demographics indicate a higher value customer base. In other words, their desire for increased profits will "kill the golden goose" and lead to their own undoing. You don't create another Beverly Hills or Rodeo Drive by bringing in more dollar stores and burger joints. Instead, you attract top commercial developments by maintaining high community standards.