I was driving back home to Oro Valley, fresh off an exciting vacation where I’d visited the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The sun was bouncing a welcoming, pink glow off Pusch Ridge, and then it hit me: There’s no place like home.

Life in Southern Arizona brings the blessing of desert sunsets, monsoon storms, big skies and natural beauty. These gifts from Mother Nature draw so many of us to this region of the country. But this isn’t just Southern Arizona; this is Oro Valley.

Life in Oro Valley ensures a culture of quality that extends far beyond the natural beauty of our state. We choose to live here because our culture of excellence, public engagement and community safety are extraordinary. We choose to live here because we feel safe and personally valued by our police officers and first responders.

We choose to live here because we expect a certain level of service from the town, and even under difficult economic times, the town employees continue to deliver. We choose to live here because we know our neighbors and we look out for each other; we are an active, outdoor community with families, children, young professionals and retirees.

We live here because the level of ethics seen in our town’s businesses is exceptional, and we trust that our goods and services will be provided as promised. We choose to live here because there is a level of pride and personal investment in this community that ensures the health and sustainability of our quality of life.

A 2008 community survey on quality of life revealed that public safety remains the number one priority for residents of Oro Valley. Our reputation for safety and security has become the framework for this community of excellence.

The outcome matches the investment we have made in our police force. Caring for our heritage, our community, our future means protecting our heritage, our community our future.

It’s important to have safe roads, clean water and other core services. And in Oro Valley, we’re proud of the services we provide. But the foundation and survival of our community is public safety. Investments in the safety of the community will determine the long-term success of our businesses.

People want to shop where they feel safe and where they can find a quality product or service. When one of those elements is out of balance, a business will struggle to survive. And when our businesses struggle, our community struggles.

Our town manager, mayor and town council have worked diligently to ensure the level of responsible fiscal management necessary to provide and protect the resources that matter most to our citizens. We’ve set the bar high for quality of life, and we have the structures in place to keep it there.

After all, this is Oro Valley.

Mary Snider is vice mayor of Oro Valley.

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