Marana Council

Clockwise, from top left: Council members Herb Kai, Jon Post, Patti Comerford and John Officer retained their seats in the 2018 primary election.

 The incumbents on the Marana Town Council held onto their seats in last week’s election, knocking back challengers who called for a change in the town’s leadership.

Councilmember Patti Comerford received more votes than anybody in the seven-candidate race. And like the other three long-time incumbents, she didn’t even raise money for her campaign. She mostly used her signs from old campaigns and spent $170 out of pocket, as of the August campaign finance report, which didn’t include a flyer that went out. As of deadline, Comerford pulled in roughly 5,400 votes.

All four incumbents teamed up to produce a joint campaign flyer in August featuring a plea from Mayor Ed Honea asking voters to re-elect the incumbents—a request that all the incumbents and the mayor were pretty vocal about throughout the campaign. 

First elected in 2001, Comerford said she’s thrilled by last Tuesday’s outcome, grateful to the voters and glad the race is over. She said as long as there’s a qualified candidate to run in her place in four years, this will be her last term. She said she won’t ever abandon her town, but she thinks there’s some qualified up-and-comers getting involved in the community.

As for the next four years, she said there’s always room for improvement on the council, and she’s going to keep listening to residents as to what they want for the town.

“That’s my job,” she said. “I’ll continue to be available. Most people have my home number.”

Trailing Comerford by about 130 votes was Councilmember Herb Kai, who’s been on the council since 1993. He said he’s pleased to see that the voters have confidence in the town and what the council is doing. 

He said the next big hurdle for the town is making sure all its residents have safe, quality drinking water and called for the tainted wells that provide water for the Continental Ranch and Saguaro Bloom residential areas to be treated as soon as possible. 

At an Aug. 14 study session, the council agreed to build treatment centers to clean the contaminated wells. Town Manager Jamsheed Mehta said the town staff will put together a proposal on how and when to build the treatment centers, which should be ready to present to council sometime in late September to early October.

Vice Mayor Jon Post, who’s been on the council since he was appointed after Tim Escobedo’s resignation in 2007, was very happy with the election outcome.  Post received about 4,800 votes.

“I really feel that the residents told us how they feel about what we’re doing,” he said.

He said fixing the water contamination is now the town’s most important issue. Besides that, he said Marana residents just want the basics: Good roads, parks, police and other services.

The council’s newest member, John Officer, was appointed to fill Carol McGorray’s seat in April and said he couldn’t sleep on election night. Beating out challenger Jack Neubeck by about 300 votes, Officer felt pretty confident about his win by 9:30 p.m. and went out with his wife to remove his campaign signs.

“The town knows what they’re doing,” Officer said. “I just like being on a good team of people that get things done… I’m not on there to change it. I’m there to keep us in the direction we’ve been going.”

He said, going forward, he feels his strength is transparency and making sure residents know how to be informed and involved in town business. He said the town will continue growing and taking care of problems, but not all issues can be solved overnight.

Officer received about 4,400 votes.

Neubeck, who received around 4,100, didn’t respond to a request for comment. While Officer was the only incumbents who raised campaign funds, collecting $1,700, Neubeck raised almost $18,300 from around 40 individual contributors, including local business owners, realtors, developers and retirees.

The other challengers, Mace Bravin and Jeff Gray, received roughly 3,000 and 2,200 votes, respectively.

Councilmember Roxanne Ziegler was the chairperson for Neubeck’s campaign. She thinks keeping all the same council members will mean several things she’s been pushing for will never happen: Creating a thriving downtown, turning the airport into a self-sufficient enterprise, and building a second exit out of the Adonis Mobile Home Park and San Lucas. 

“What’s sad about this election is you still have people on there who aren’t looking at the bigger picture for Marana,” she said. “What you’re going to have now is the same thing as the last 20 years.”

Currently, residents have to cross the train tracks to get out of their homes. Ziegler said the council has been talking about building another exit for 10 years and that after the train derailed this summer during monsoons, building that second exit is imperative. 

“You’re talking safety of the residents on the east side of the freeway,” she said. “There comes a time when the town has to take responsibility.”

Mayor Ed Honea, who vocally supported all the incumbents, was thrilled with the election outcome. 

“They’re not all exactly alike, but they seem to work together and do good things for the community,” he said of all the council members. 

He told Tucson Local Media about some things he’s proud of that the town is doing: The town just opened the new Tangerine Sky Community Park and the splash pad at Crossroads at Silverbell District Park. The town will soon be extending a hiking trail in north Marana. Tangerine Road is done, and Ina Road construction should be done in March. The town is considering the old town hall for the new Chamber of Commerce building. 

Residential areas Villages at Tortolita and Gladden Farms II are getting ready for new homes to go in. Honea expects Marana to continue issuing around 80 new homes permits a month. And he said the town is looking at future annexations, north into Pinal County. 

“Our future is north,” he said.

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