Born: Washington D.C.
Siblings: Brother and Sister both Deceased
Significant Other and Children: Wife: Judi and three children and 7 grandchildren
Education: B.A. Northwestern University; Juris Doctor Northwestern University; Master’s in human services administration Spertus Institute
Job History: Currently Retired; Practiced Law; Chief Counsel to Illinois House Republican Leader; Legislative Liaison for Governor Jim Thompson; Deputy Director Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs; Executive in two International Businesses doing business in Former Soviet Union then China; Executive Vice President of Jane Addams Hull House Association; Executive Vice President of Children’s Home+Aid
Volunteer Experience: Member Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission two terms with one as Chair; In Glenview Illinois was President of both our Elementary Board of Education and High School Boards of Education; President of the Glenview Rotary Club; Twice President of Glenview Chamber of Commerce
How long have you lived in Oro Valley, and why did you move here?
Thirteen-and-a-half years. We visited friends here and fell in love with the friendly people and the wonderful environment. We bought a house in 2005 while keeping our Glenview home as our home base while I was working. After almost two years of going back and forth, we knew we wanted to be here full time so sold the Illinois house and moved here full time in January 2007.
What do you appreciate about the community?
The friendliness of the people and their willingness to get involved in working to improve our community. The beauty of the surroundings. I never tire of the mountains. The setting is good for my soul. Our Town values arts and culture both local e.g. Oro Valley Theatre Company and in Tucson. The University of Arizona is a wonderful resource as well.
Why are you running for another term of office?
I have gained a great deal of knowledge and experience about the workings of our Town during my four years on the Planning and Zoning Commission and the three-and-a-half years on the town council. I would like to use that knowledge and experience to work through the challenges our Town faces. Rebuilding and strengthening our local economy post COVID-19 pandemic will be one of those major challenges and among the areas I will focus on.
Why should residents vote for you?
I have shown that I can be counted on to listen to all sides of an issue, work to determine the facts and to then vote for what is in the best interest of the Town and its residents. I always consider the long-range effects of any decision. This is critically important in areas of economic development, population growth and possible annexation. I have the experience and ability to evaluate and balance these long-term goals and impacts to minimize our tax burden and maximize our quality of life.
What goals do you hope to accomplish during your second term?
Guiding the town through the continuing pandemic and its aftermath. Because of the financially sound and conservative financial approach we have taken, the town is positioned to get through this difficult economic challenge without major reduction in needed services. However, we do not know how long this virus will negatively affect us and to what magnitude. It will take steady hands to be sure we navigate through the turbulence safely.
I am committed to finding the best possible resolution to the reuse of the closed Golf Club at Vistoso. I voted for the motion to direct our town manager to work with the Conservation Fund, residents, and the property owner to explore the possibility of the preservation of this property as open space. I will do whatever I can to support this effort.
I have always been respectful of other opinions and been civil in those discussions. I continue to do all that I can to heal the divide within our town by working to find solutions that can work for most of our residents.
We need to finish the irrigation replacement, turf reduction, tee levelling and bunker work on our two town golf courses. The operations of these courses are moving in the right direction both financially and qualitatively. They are projected to be in black again next year.
We need to approve the capital expenses needed for our community center, including the ADA work needed to provide better access for our disabled and older users. We need to review a plan we had approved two years ago to remodel the interior of the center to better utilize the fitness space and the food and beverage service. This center is an important town asset which serves a significant number of our residents. Now that we have the new golf course and food and beverage manager, Anteres, in place, we need to work with them and town staff to adopt a plan to improve the facility to better offer needed programs and services.
What are Oro Valley’s greatest strengths and how would you maintain them?
We are truly fortunate to have many engaged residents. We know we can count on their input as we work to overcome challenges. I am committed to full transparency in our council deliberations. As I have said several times, I believe we could have had more public discussions instead of executive sessions and I will continue to push for open discussion. I will support every effort to reach out to the community for input on our decisions. As a resident of our town and a council member, I always remember that I serve the residents.
Our public safety services are world class. Our police department is the envy of the country. This is not by accident. This is the result of more than 20 years of excellent leadership under Chief Danny Sharp and now Chief Kara Riley. I will continue the full support for the resources our OVPD needs to keep us safe and to continue the community policing model that has resulted in the full support of our residents. There have been attempts in the past to reduce the resources available to our OVPD by one of the current candidates for council. I know the danger of that path. Especially in this time of scrutiny on police, I will do all that I can to be sure we appropriately have their backs as they protect us.
Due to 10 years of conservative financial decisions, our town is in a strong financial position even while dealing with the pandemic. I will continue my support for decisions that maintain and improve that position.
We have a wonderful quality of life in our Town. It is a beautiful place to live and work. The natural beauty is a magnet for potential new residents and businesses. We must remain respectful of that environment.
What are Oro Valley’s weaknesses and how would you alter and/or improve them?
I listed resident engagement as a strength. Depending on how that engagement is manifested, it can sometimes be a weakness when it comes to finding an acceptable solution to problems. It is important that we discuss and, at times, disagree as to how to move forward, but it is paramount that we do so civilly with full respect for each other’s viewpoint and perspective. I remain committed to respecting differing opinions and learning from them. We must develop and grow carefully and responsibly to maintain long term financial stability, and viability, in order to maintain the highest possible standard of living with a minimum reasonable tax burden.
If reelected, what steps would you take to maintain or improve the town’s financial position?
Oro Valley is in a strong financial position even though we are challenged by the current Pandemic. We have more than a 40 percent contingency reserve in our general fund. That amount may be reduced somewhat as we work through the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are well positioned to meet this challenge. This is the result of 10 years of conservative financial management which I will continue to support. There is no financial crisis facing us and we need to work to keep it that way despite the unknowns regarding the pandemic. Importantly, we must grow responsibly as mentioned above.
What do you believe the role of the General Plan is in relation to the work of the town council, and when (if ever) should it be amended?
The General Plan is just that, a plan. It is a strong statement by our residents as to what is important to us as we move forward. It should be the first question asked and answered when an application for change is submitted. Does this comply with the General Plan? If so, how does it comply?
If it is determined that it does not comply, then the applicant will need to make the case that the change requested falls under the criteria contained in Section 7.4 which is the amendment section of the Plan. This is a ten-year plan based on what we know at that time. Knowing that, the drafters and the residents have provided for how and under what circumstances it can be amended. It should not be easy to amend and it is not. Tier 1 amendments, which used to be called major General Plan amendments, require a great deal of public input and analysis to determine if they can meet the criteria to allow for amendments. This process needs to start by May 1 and be heard by Council in the same calendar year as it was filed. It requires a two-thirds affirmative vote of council to pass.
Type 2 General Plan amendments are defined and can be filed anytime and still have a significant public input and approval process. All amendments must include significant neighbor input
It makes sense that amendments would be allowed to a ten-year plan under specific circumstances that meet very defined criteria and move through a very rigorous process. Lastly, there are appropriate and statutorily mandated reviews and amendments of the plan.
How would you foster economic development and job growth within the community, and what kind of jobs do you think Oro Valley needs?
I supported the creation of a Community and Economic Development Department managed by an economic development professional with years of experience in this area. A plan was developed by this department to guide our efforts. The council reviewed and approved the plan. It is important that we follow and implement that plan. It addresses efforts to attract new business and assist existing businesses remain and grow.
As a council member, it is important to provide support in the efforts to continue to grow our reputation as “business friendly”. At the direction of council, staff is developing a set of guidelines for offering incentives to attract and retain businesses and jobs.
We need to recognize the need for the availability of appropriate nearby housing for the employees of our existing and future employers.
Oro Valley has prioritized biotech related jobs as well as technology companies that bring higher paying jobs that will allow those employees to contribute to the Oro Valley economy. We need the full range of job opportunities to serve the needs of our residents and employers.
How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the town?
I support all the current outreach efforts of our town. We continue to prioritize ways to allow and encourage our residents to provide their input through such opportunities as neighborhood meetings, public hearing, online surveys, and other avenues including through the town website. We must make every effort to get input from all our residents. As I said earlier, we are in office to serve the residents.
Please give your thoughts on the proposed plans to turn the former Vistoso golf course into a permanent public space.
I recently voted in favor of directing our town manager to work with the Conservation Fund, the landowner and the residents to explore the very real possibility that this effort could result in a permanent open space resource for our town. I am hopeful that this effort is successful. It is an important issue for the future of our town. I fully support this effort.
What are the next steps the town should take as it approaches build-out?
Given the way our town is funded, we need to find acceptable ways to grow our economy or we will need to reduce services or find other revenue sources. Oro Valley does not receive any revenues from property taxes. Our revenue to fund public safety, roads, parks and recreation and all the administrative services of the town are primarily tied to sales tax, construction sales tax, utility tax, bed tax and state shared revenue. With exception of the bed tax, the rest are dependent on consumers of goods and services or construction activity. State shared revenues are calculated by population count. If other municipalities grow and we do not, we get a smaller piece of the state resources.
As we approach build-out, we need to look at appropriate annexation opportunities. It is important that these annexations have a net positive financial benefit for the town in order to be considered. We have near term opportunities on the northwest side of town and to our south along Oracle road. We should focus efforts on those opportunities.
If we do not grow, we will be forced to find other revenue sources and the only one that could provide the needed revenue would be a property tax. I do not believe we need to consider that if we pursue managed growth and appropriate annexation opportunities. I believe our current funding allows our residents to manage how much they pay for all the town services by how much they pay in sales taxes. With a property tax, residents would pay no matter what as long as they own the property.
What are your thoughts on current redevelopment plans of the Oro Valley Marketplace?
I support the current plan for redevelopment of the Oro Valley Marketplace. The proposed live, work and play model is a great option for this property. The idea of bringing residents to live in the center, stay in the hotels and play in the recreation area brings customers to the stores, restaurants, and services. I have toured the property with the new owner and have seen the plans. I will do all that I can, within reason, to support this effort. This property can be a major economic engine for Oro Valley as well as support for our economic development efforts with housing, hotel and other resources for their employees and visitors.
If you received a $1 million grant for use anywhere in Oro Valley, what would you fund?
While I would love to see a performing arts center in Oro Valley, I know that $1 million would hardly be a drop in that bucket. I am not alone in this opinion as the recent parks and recreation needs assessment did identify this need in the top group of needs.
As mentioned earlier, the town is facilitating efforts to obtain grants for the purchase of the closed Golf Club at Vistoso. This would be a good use of this grant money if there is sufficient financial support from other sources.