Patti Comerford came to Marana 30 years ago in hopes of giving her son a more fulfilling childhood. Comerford’s family left bustling California for Marana’s agricultural farmland and hasn’t looked back since.
“We moved out here so that he could go to school with kids whose parents owned ranches, and farms, and have the experience of all kinds of different things,” Comerford said. “We just fell in love with the community.”
Comerford’s passion for the Town of Marana would culminate into a longstanding position on Marana’s Town Council since 2001. Yet, before her role as councilmember, Comerford was already positioning herself as a community servant. She was keen to participate in all things school-related for her son and started the Continental Ranch Little League with her best friend.
While managing the little league, Comerford saw the Town’s shortfalls when it came to parks. She said at this time the town had one field that was usable for her little league. That park deficiency would later inform her position on increasing park and recreation opportunity for the Town during her time on council.
Her motto is: “Always listen to the community, and try to do what we can to meet the community’s wants and needs.”
Comerford has been doing this type of community engagement since her role as a police officer in California. She was a community service officer for 10 years working on investigations and crime prevention. With this experience under her belt, Comerford was proactive in listening to what Marana citizens needed.
Comerford’s experience working in LA County law enforcement made her appreciate the Marana Police Department. She said it was like comparing apples to oranges in reference to the departments. To put it lightly, LA County was no walk in the park.
“The way that the Marana Police Department has community relationships, they’re going out and they’re creating those bonds,” Comerford said
Comerford said the Marana Police Department’s typical response time is less than two minutes leading her to believe this could be one of the main reasons Marana is one of the safest towns in Southern Arizona.
Comerford added that a good relationship between the community and police is integral as Marana continues to grow.
Comerford took the opportunity to discuss misconceptions she thinks some Marana residents have about growth, as it is a big topic in Marana politics ahead of the August primary election.
“We go through spurts and when this happens, you can’t tell somebody who’s been holding on to the property, waiting for their time, you can’t tell ‘No, I’m sorry, you can’t build right now,’” Comerford said. “You know, we’re keeping up infrastructure-wise, we’re keeping up with what a municipality is supposed to do.”
Marana is one of the fastest-growing cities in Arizona, according to the latest U.S. Census. In order to support this influx, the council’s been open to working with construction companies and collaborating on new areas for home development. Comerford is keen on keeping town infrastructure up to date with this growth and adds that growth wouldn’t be happening if there wasn’t enough water available. Comerford served on Marana’s Planning and Zoning Commission for seven years before running for town council. During this time, she built relationships in the public and private sectors. Relationships, she said, are important to get things done in government. Her goal is to work collaboratively with the community and businesses to make Marana a better place to live for every citizen.
Comerford’s relationships are essential when it comes to working with departments like the Arizona Department of Transportation to improve roads and Pima County when it came to acquiring the wastewater treatment facility. Water rights are essential to Marana’s growth.
The topics of water and growth go hand-in-hand in the next town council election season.
“We have people on the council with over 100 years of experience of working with Marana water,” Comerford said. “Marana was founded on water and it was about getting their water rights, that’s when the town became incorporated in 1977.”
Comerford said she doesn’t believe in fear mongering, “I believe in getting them the facts.” Comerford strongly believes that the council has acted responsibly and water accessibility is safe in the hands of council members that have decades of knowledge on their side.
Ahead of the next town council election, Comerford said there is a “get them out” mentally from opponents, “but right now you need experience and knowledge to handle what’s going on.” Adding to that point, Comerfor implored citizens to get in touch with her directly to find answers if they have questions about water and growth.
“And if I don’t have the answer, which I can’t guarantee that I will every time, but I know where to go to get it,” she said.