The pool of candidates seeking a seat on the Oro Valley Town Council this year grew larger after Melanie Barrett and Joyce Jones-Ivey turned in petition signatures to have their names added to the August primary ballot.
Tucson Local Media confirmed with Oro Valley Town Clerk Michael Standish that both women turned in petitions with at least the minimum number of required resident signatures before Monday’s print deadline.
A nine-year resident of the Town, Barrett is the current vice chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and has sat on the community board since the beginning of 2015. As a resident, and board member, Barrett said she has seen the good that Oro Valley has achieved in recent years, though said she’s “seen some areas where we really need some improvement.”
Among Barrett’s concerns are what she’s said are cutbacks in opportunities provided by the town for resident participation in recent years, the pace at which new developments are built and what she called “a lack of transparency” and conflicts of interest on the dais.
“It just doesn’t feel right to me that the council is receiving campaign donations from developers and land owners, and then voting on the projects,” Barrett said. “I often see seven-zero votes on developer’s applications on projects despite the many town meetings I’ve attended where nearly every residence in attendance is opposed to the project and asking for reasonable and clear alternatives.”
A native of San Diego, Barrett said she found her way to Oro Valley after her husband started with Raytheon. The couple has four children whom Barrett said she’s excited to raise in Oro Valley. Barrett graduated Magna Cum Laude from law school at Brigham Young University, where she served on the Law Review. In 2004 she graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in English.
Born in Los Angeles, Jones-Ivey also found her way to Oro Valley in recent years, having moved to the town roughly two years ago from Texas.
She said it was everything they wanted; a quaint community where everyone knows their neighbors. Jones-Ivey said she and her husband were “enthralled” by the town.
Though she was impressed with her new home, Jones-Ivey said she began to notice a few things about the town that cracked the façade: rezoning, developments and resident interaction with elected officials.
Jones-Ivey said the yellow signs indicating upcoming neighborhood meetings for property rezoning were her first introduction into the political scene, especially when she began to attend the meetings herself.
“I could not believe that they were being ignored, and a lot of them were being spoken to very rudely—particularly by our mayor and other town councilmembers,” she said.
Continuing to watch different development proposals and plans go through the town over the last year, learning more about the circumstances regarding the Oro Valley Community Center’s operations and meeting more town residents all pushed Jones-Ivey towards throwing her name in the hat this year.
Now an official candidate for the Aug. 28 primary, Jones-Ivey said she is looking for ways to make sure councilmembers are more accountable to their constituents. She mentioned potentially moving away from the at-large system and instead creating specific wards for which councilmembers are accountable.
“If something is going on that I don’t like, I want to be able to say that I can call councilperson Joyce Jones-Ivey because she’s responsible for my community, for my ZIP Code, and know that they’re going to be listened to,” she said.
Jones-Ivey also said she would look to keep development in the town more adherent to the tenets of the “Your Voice, Our Future” 2016 General Plan. As a retired Registered Nurse Practitioner with more than four decades of experience, Jones-Ivey said she could bring a depth of interpersonal skills to the council.
Both Barrett and Jones-Ivey expressed concern regarding councilmembers receiving donations from local land developers and finding alternative solutions to the town’s golf operations as other important aspects of their campaign platform.