We have to grow, but grow wisely. Too many people (in Oro Valley) want to close the gate, according to OV town council candidate Charlie Hurt.
Hurt, who was a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission for four years, in which he chaired it for two years, said he is running for council because he wants to draw more people into Oro Valley, not just for shopping and entertainment but for residential living.
“I don’t like the direction of the town,” he said. “I think the current council has moved entirely too far in a direction that I don’t want to see the town move in.”
Hurt said with no growth Oro Valley needs to start “talking about what things we are going to start and what services we are going to start doing without.”
Hurt said currently the town is “flush with money,” but he is worried about the future.
“That’s what led me to take a look at running for council,” Hurt explained. “I think if we continue in the way that we have been, we will drive ourselves off of a financial cliff.”
A former dean at the University of Arizona, Hurt started off his academic career at McGill University in Montreal. He spent time in Boston at Simmons College and arrived in Tucson at the University of Arizona as a professor and then dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Hurt prides himself on his accomplishments as dean at the UA. He said when he became dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, it had an approximate deficit of $2 million. Hurt said he worked it out and left the university with a balanced budget.
It was a big victory for Hurt and led him to wanting a seat on Oro Valley’s town council. Hurt spent 16 years in the Tucson area, with eight of those years spent in Oro Valley.
He and his family moved away. But with the opportunity to retire anywhere in the country, they chose to come back to Oro Valley.
His biggest challenge will be trying to get more revenue in Oro Valley; more residential areas, including apartments; and filling up the rest of the Oro Valley Marketplace with more businesses.
Hurt said Oro Valley can’t build better retail opportunities “because there aren’t enough rooftops and people.” He explained the Marketplace is half-empty still.
“You start seeing in the modeling that I’ve done says that we will not have enough in terms of revenue, while at the same time expenses keep going up,” he said. “We will have a revenue shortfall. Why? Because we have not grown.”
Hurt stressed, “Let’s be very clear, I do not want to see a property tax in Oro Valley.”
Hurt said the property (Marketplace) is still on the table. He said we not only need an apartment building but a hotel and more amenities in the town to draw more people.
Developers have a tough time getting approval to build in OV. Hurt said the Environmentally Sensitive Land Ordinance (ESO) protects certain areas. According to Hurt, this limits developers’ approval chances. When it comes to the OV Marketplace, the council does not support the idea of a six-story apartment building. Some say it will be an eyesore; however, the Oro Valley Hospital nearby has approximately five stories.
“The Marketplace is a great idea. It will be a great gathering spot,” he said.
Hurt stressed the three main issues he would concentrate on if he wins a seat are public safety, town council transparency and the town budget.
“One of the things I think we need to accomplish is to refocus on public safety,” he said. “To the town council’s credit, they approved for four more police officers.”
However, Hurt doesn’t feel it is enough police. He was informed by Danny Sharp, former Oro Valley police chief who is running for mayor, the town is short by 14 officers.
“We need police presence to continue to be the safest place in Arizona,” Hurt explained.
Another issue Hurt would address is town council transparency.
“There is a reason for closed-door meetings, but come out and tell the people what happened in there, what was the discussion,” Hurt said.
Finally, Hurt explained the budgets need to be reviewed.
“Where are we going?” he asked. “We have to look out farther than the current council is looking.
“They look out to five years (for the budget), but we should look out to 20 years.”
OV mayoral and town council elections are held on Aug. 2, 2022.