City/Town Born: Tucson, AZ
Siblings:Brother Dan Holland (Seattle)
Significant Other and Children: Husband Don Craig, step-children Rhona Westcott, Jill Cover, Sandy Edmund, Rob Craig
Education: BA English University of Idaho, MS National Security Strategy, National War College
Job History: Retired, Foreign Service Officer with US Dept. of State 1988 - 2013
Volunteer Experience: Pima County Master Gardener 2013-2014, Highlands Architectural Landscape Committee 2014-2017, Highlands Board of Directors 2018 - present, Highlands Hike Leader 2014 - present
How long have you lived in Marana, and what circumstances brought you to the town?
Born in Tucson, I moved to Marana when I retired from the diplomatic service in 2013. My husband and I fell in love with the Dove Mountain area while visiting my parents living in the Highlands. We were looking for beautiful views, blue skies, access to outdoor recreation, affordable golf and a friendly and safe neighborhood. Marana easily satisfied those goals. We looked no further.
What do you appreciate about the community?
I love the natural beauty and expansive views in Marana. It is not overbuilt (yet) so you can see the desert stretching to the mountains almost everywhere you look. The outdoor recreational opportunities are hard to beat: the Tortolita Mountains trail system, the Tortolita Preserve, El Rio Preserve, the Santa Cruz Loop river trail and the new paths along Tangerine. I deeply appreciate that Marana is a separate entity from Tucson with its own unique character, some very original restaurants and businesses, and still a small-town atmosphere.
Explain the circumstances that led to you running for town council.
I was already concerned at the desert open spaces being gobbled up by housing development. Then, when Marana’s draft 20 year plan abolished the Tortolita Preserve and turned the entire Tortolita Fan into a Special Development Area, it became clear to me that the only way to influence and balance this sprawling growth was for someone with different ideas to be in the town council. I am by no means a natural politician, I just want to preserve the wonderful place that Marana is now.
Why do you believe now is the right time for you to join the council?
Now is the vital time to get someone with a more balanced idea of growth into the council. Marana has almost doubled in size since 2010, and that rapid growth has not been strategically planned by the town authorities, but was ad-hoc by the developers. This has led to some sprawling, disconnected residential areas without contributing to an urban core dense enough to attract upscale restaurants and shops. Not only that, but it has created infrastructure needs like sewer and water connectivity. The stated goal of even further growth requires large expensive infrastructure projects like drainage structures in North Marana and the Northwest Recharge water delivery system up Twin Peaks that current residents will be asked to pay for. I disagree both with the need for that growth and the plan to put it on the backs of current residents. I am also very concerned that growth is endangering our water sustainability. We need someone in the council to keep that issue in the forefront.
Why should residents vote for you?
I am focusing on the rights of current residents. I want the town to maintain the unique character, the natural beauty, the affordability, safety and ease of movement of the town for those current residents. I bring a fresh perspective that recognizes untrammeled growth does not benefit current residents. I can guide council decisions for a sustainable future.
What goals do you hope to accomplish as a council member?
I will work to ensure all future growth directly benefits the town, not the developers. We need to be more selective in which development we support. The building codes have been whittled back to be less demanding of border buffers, wildlife corridors and parks, so I will push to see them strengthened. We need to do a water resource study to see what growth we can truly support and still be able to provide affordable clean water to current residents for the next 100 years.
What are Marana’s greatest strengths and how would you maintain them?
Marana’s greatest strengths are its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. We should build on those to entice paying visitors to Marana, to become a destination for photographers, birdwatchers, hikers and cyclists. We also have some great transportation assets, such as the airport, interstate and rail. We can entice businesses that need easy transportation access. Lastly, we have a highly-respected police force and a vigilant citizenry so our town is safe and stable. You can’t beat that.
What are Marana’s weaknesses and how would you alter and/or improve them?
Our only weakness is our vision. We need to re-think the fixation on residential growth and see ourselves in a different way: a Green Marana, an outdoor Mecca, a refuge from the traffic, danger, noise and blandness of every-city.
If elected, what steps would you take to maintain or improve the town’s financial position?
I would make a deep examination of the budget to explore our long-term liabilities. The town has made commitments to developers over the years that will drain our future budgets. In addition, residential growth costs the town more in services than it will ever recover in taxes, so we need to plan for that drain once the short term developer fees cease.
How would you foster economic development and job growth within the community, and what kind of jobs do you think Marana needs?
We have an economic development component of town staff, but they have not been very creative in creating a vibrant urban center. We should investigate new ideas like blocking roads to create walkable retail areas, putting up outdoor art installations that draw spectators, and allowing mixed-use retail/hotel/residential neighborhoods. I see a big window for outdoor recreation and hospitality jobs, but we need to provide jobs across the spectrum, from high-tech to medical to sales. We have a variety of residents with all sorts of job skills. I would like to see them have a very short commute to a job in Marana.
How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in the town?
I have developed some new skills in social media since I started campaigning and I also put out a newsletter to keep supporters briefed on the latest news of the town and my campaign. I would use both of those methods to keep residents informed of the outcomes of council meetings and other important decisions or upcoming issues.
Marana is interested in a variety of large capital projects, how should they be funded?
This is an important point. Currently, the town has not identified a method to fund drainage structures in north Marana, or the Northwest Recovery and Delivery System on Twin Peaks, and they will cost millions of dollars. The council has discussed raising the sales tax to pay for these several times, but no decision has been made. I am against current residents paying for infrastructure that is just to entice development. All development needs to be a pay-as-you-go process.If we don’t have the money, we should not consider the project.
What are your views on Marana annexing additional land?
Marana has made several strategic annexations of land that have added greatly to our tax base. I am in favor of annexations that are clearly for the benefit of the town budget. I am against annexations that are for the benefit of a developer or would bring nothing but more residential growth which means higher future taxes to support services and schools.
Residents in northern Marana have often complained about a lack of nearby grocery stores and high quality restaurants, what can the council do to develop those missing resources?
I am very concerned about a lack of a vibrant town center complete with good stores and high quality restaurants. We have an economic development component of town staff, but they have not been very creative in creating a vibrant urban center. We should investigate new ideas like blocking roads to create walkable retail areas, putting up outdoor art installations that draw spectators, and allowing mixed-use retail/hotel/residential neighborhoods.
How can the town council balance local water resources with the development of new housing?
I am not sure we can. That is why we urgently need to conduct a water resource study. None of the recent studies on water or drainage have been resource studies, so the town has no idea of the sustainability of its water resources, even with its current population. We rely heavily on Colorado River water and that has the potential to be cut 26 percent from federally-mandated drought cuts. Can we even handle that? We need to find out.
What strategies can the town use to maintain its open space and small town characteristics while also fostering commercial development?
This dilemma is central to my campaign. We have considerable land in the Gladden Farms area that has long been cleared for agriculture or commercial activity and is adjacent to existing residential areas. It is also happily near our municipal center. Thoughtful development of that land to provide a good mix of commercial, retail and residential would maintain the small town feel and give us a good push toward a vibrant town center. We should promote and assist that type of development, and place high standards on any construction that destroys our beautiful open spaces.
If you received a $1 million grant for use anywhere in Marana, what would you fund?
I would first allocate $100,000 to commission a local artist to create outdoor art to add interest and foot traffic to the municipal center area, a hopeful first step in creating a vibrant downtown. The rest would go to preserve our open spaces and wildlife for future generations of Marana residents to enjoy. $900,000 could go a long way toward large buffers along wildlife corridors which do the double duty of preserving view corridors and open space.