This recession has been tough on everyone.

The Town of Oro Valley, on which we depend for vital services like police protection and water, faces looming budget shortfalls. Our leaders must plot an uncertain course for our collective future.

For that reason and many more, who we choose to lead us through this difficult period is so important.

Ten candidates seek election to the council this year. The four winners (a mayor and three council members) will have a near-Herculean task in front of them. They must budget for leaner times while seeking to improve our economy and promote future growth.

The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce has endeavored to evaluate the candidates for local office. The chamber's 500 member businesses employ thousands of people in our community, all of whom have a vested interest in competent, capable local leadership.

After conducting candidate interviews, holding public forums and much deliberation, the chamber has endorsed Satish Hiremath for mayor and Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters for council.

These candidates value strong cooperation between the business community and the local government. They believe wholeheartedly in the truth behind the old saying: "A rising tide lifts all boats."

By improving conditions for local employment, these four believe Oro Valley will continue providing residents an exceptional quality of life.

These four all agree that the town should consider a variety of incentives (not necessarily tax breaks) to recruit new businesses to town or to induce those already here to expand their operations.

They also believe the town must continue investing in economic development, which means maintaining a robust economic development department as well as funding initiatives by outside groups (like TREO and the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau) that help the town.

Based on their interviews with the chamber, Satish Hiremath, Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters possess the skills required to "run the business" of Oro Valley. Their collective experience can turn a tide of ill-will towards the business community in town.

Oro Valley with its onerous regulations — especially its maniacal enforcement of the sign code — and its burdensome permitting processes has erected roadblocks to employment growth.

The chamber's endorsement of Hiremath, Hornat, Snider and Waters reflects the hope that with a fair-minded council, Oro Valley can prosper even in the leanest of times.

The distrust, dysfunction and backbiting that currently plague the Oro Valley council and its strongest political backers can end with the election of these four candidates.

Oro Valley faces fiscal uncertainty in the coming years. The town must find new sources of revenue and evaluate its expenditures, making sensible cuts that don't hinder vital services.

The town needs skilled leaders who look to include all viewpoints in a wide-ranging discussion of Oro Valley's future. Citizens, businesses and government leaders must come together to boost our collective prospects.

Satish Hiremath, Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters are the new wave of leaders we seek to carry our town into a better, more stable future.


Ramon Gaanderse is the president and CEO of the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 500 local businesses.

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