Arizona Daily Star on May 30, 2018 covers information about the upcoming town elections across the Tucson metro area:
From Tucson Local Media – The Explorer on May 9, 2018
by Logan Burtch-Buus
It didn’t take long for potential candidates in Oro Valley’s upcoming town council election to collect petition signatures to become full-fledged participants in the Aug. 28 primary.
As of deadline, Tucson Local Media has confirmed with the Oro Valley town clerk’s office that all four incumbent candidates and mayoral candidate Joseph Winfield have submitted the necessary number of resident signatures to be included on the ballot. Mayor Satish Hiremath, Vice Mayor Lou Waters and Councilmembers Mary Snider and Joe Hornat are all facing re-election this year—and all aspire to another four years on the town’s legislative body. Potential challengers have to turn in at least 345 valid signatures on nominating petitions by May 30.
“It feels great, and I feel grateful for all the folks that helped with that effort—the circulators, residents of Oro Valley who signed my nomination petitions, I really appreciate everyone’s efforts,” said Winfield. “For me, personally, it represents 40 hours of canvassing and at various events…and I think that’s what’s behind those signatures, the conversations and the enthusiasm of volunteers helping with my campaign.”
Winfield said that while canvassing and getting to know residents, several topics and themes were mentioned “again and again,” namely the rate and type of development occurring in the town, the golf operations at the community center and a “loss of confidence” among residents for the town council to “resolve the problem.”
If elected as the next mayor, Winfield said he would bring “independent” analysis and judgment to the dais and provide opportunities for residents to have their voices heard—something he said the current council does not adequately accomplish.
Winfield first introduced himself to Oro Valley voters during the 2015 recall election, during which time he also ran in the mayoral race. As previously reported by Tucson Local Media, Winfield dropped out the race in the midst of a candidate forum. Winfield said he quit two years ago because he felt as though his intentions were overshadowed by the strong emotions surrounding the recall.
This time around, Winfield said he sees discontent among the community regarding a variety of issues. He said that, in general, “folks are looking for a change.” Winfield said that residents with whom he spoke were unhappy with the current mayor and council. He said their unhappiness could be characterized by “the rate of development, by the type of development, the continuing losses related to the golf course.”
While Winfield said he interacted with a voting body discontent with its elected leadership, Mayor Hiremath said his own canvassing experience—and that of all the incumbents—was a positive one.
“The four of us, we’re a known quantity, and there are a lot of people that really appreciate what we’ve done with the Town of Oro Valley over the past eight years—and they like the direction we’re heading,” Hiremath said.
All four incumbents were first elected to council in 2010, and were re-elected in 2014. After the December 2014 vote to acquire the now community center from HSL Properties, the four same councilmembers were the subject of a potential recall in 2015. Hiremath, Waters, Snider and Hornat survived the effort, and now face their end of term this year.
Hiremath said it “felt good” to interact with the community while canvassing and collecting signatures, though the mayor did express some apprehension at the presence of what he considers “sound-bite” politics intended to drum up negative emotion among residents.
“We didn’t really get any negative feedback at all,” Hiremath said regarding his canvassing efforts. “There were some concerns about the negative campaigning signs that say we’re ‘blading and grading’ the desert and I just say, ‘Look around you. You can’t even see anything because of the amount of foliage.’ It just couldn’t be further from the truth; rezoning has allowed us to preserve a significant amount of acreage that we wouldn’t be able to preserve otherwise.”
Hiremath said that voters shouldn’t “fall for the sound bites” regarding the community center or the golf courses, and chastised those in the community willing to utilize such tactics.
“Our community, and our residents, should expect more from our local elected officials than mirroring of the politics happening at the state and national level,” he said.
As for challengers, both to his seat and the rest of the council, Hiremath called them “single-issue candidates.”
“And government is not about single-ticket issues,” Hiremath said. “It’s not just about government, it’s not about runaway budgets, it’s not about any single thing. It’s about governing—and governing is all-encompassing. If people can realize that and reflect over the last eight years to see what they have now comparatively speaking to the amenities they had before, that’s the take-home message.”
“Joseph Winfield is taking another shot at the mayor’s seat”
by Logan Burtch-Buus
Mar 28, 2018, Updated Mar 28, 2018
Several years after taking a step back from the political arena, Oro Valley resident Joseph Winfield has announced that he will make another run for the town’s top spot and challenge incumbent Mayor Satish Hiremath in this year’s election.
Settling down with Tucson Local Media last week to announce his potential candidacy, Winfield said that as an Oro Valley resident for the past 22 years, he feels like he has a serious “stake in our town, in our community.”
A native of San Bernardino, California, the UA grad has lived in Oro Valley since 1996 and has watched the town grow and change dramatically. A married father of seven, Winfield said his family first moved to the town for the education opportunities, and has since found plenty to love about Oro Valley.“
I love my community,” he said. “I’ve been involved in my community. Because of my professional background and training as a landscape architect, I’m a little burdened by how things look, and how things unfold on the land. I have an understanding of how a community comes together.”
Winfield, 60, formerly served as an appointee to the 2005 General Plan Steering Committee, was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and part of the “Your Voice, Our Community” General Plan development.
Though he’s found plenty to love about Oro Valley, Winfield said there are always places for improvement: Building a sense of trust between constituents and elected officials, and working to be more receptive of all community ideas.
Winfield said there’s a “real need” to create, advocate and model civil discourse in Oro Valley, as well as to provide the community with a forum to have their opinions heard. Winfield said that some of those forums materialize in the form of boards and commissions, but that they’re not being utilized properly by the council.
Winfield said that while he served on Oro Valley’s parks board, he didn’t feel like he had a voice. It’s a complaint he said he’s heard echoed by others who have volunteered on boards and commissions.“ The mayor, the council, they can’t be experts in everything, right?” Winfield said. “That’s why youhave advisory boards and commissions. But if you’re not utilizing them, they become hollow and in a sense, meaningless. And the individuals that participate on those boards really feel like they don’t have a voice. So you begin to lose good people.”
As for his campaign platform, Winfield said he is driven by his involvement in the town’s general plan processes and believes the council should adhere to those tenets and guidelines when making decisions from the dais.
Winfield said that the development and zoning changes recently approved by council don’t necessarily align with the principals of the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan and the vision for the town’s future.
While he conceded that “plans are dynamic, things aren’t static,” he added that “there is some justification for community concern about what may appear, could appear, as a disregard for the environment, a disregard for open space. A disregard for what the community thought was at least, in principle, an expectation or a decision that was made.”
As for development, conceptually, Winfield said he knows new businesses and housing are a natural part of the municipal process, but that it takes careful decision-making by council to plan a consistent community experience.
Winfield said that development decisions are sometimes “tainted” by outside influence on the council, “both real and perceived,” in the form of campaign contributions. He said those influences begin to “color” council’s decision making, and “undermines the integrity” of some of those decisions.If elected to council, Winfield said he would bring an independent point of view to the dais.
He plans to fund his candidacy with contributions from friends, family and neighbors.
As for the community center, Winfield said he the popularity of the fitness and community center programming cannot be argued, but would like to explore other options for the golf courses.
“I’m not entirely satisfied with the recommendations that came,” he said. “I think that we should be out of the golf business. If that means leasing it out, if that means a slow transition to other uses of that open space, that green space. I definitely think that it is an asset to the community.”
If Winfield collects enough signatures to have his name on the Aug. 28 primary campaign ballot, it won’t be the first time his name appears under Hiremath’s in the hands of voters. Winfield was a mayoral candidate during the 2015 recall attempt of Hiremath, Vice Mayor Lou Waters and Councilmembers Mary Snider and Joe Hornat, all of whom are running for reelection this year.
During that election, roughly three years ago, Winfield dropped out of the race “in deference” to fellow candidate Patrick Straney during an October debate. By the end of that election, Hiremath beat Straney by a nearly 10 percent margin, while Winfield pulled in roughly 6 percent of the mayoral vote.
Winfield said his motivations for dropping out lay with his inability to distinguish his own motivations in participating in that election. He said the decision came after an elderly woman at the first candidate debate accosted him, questioning his motivations and integrity as a candidate.
“After all of this, if there is an older woman in Oro Valley who doesn’t know me and I don’t know her, but somehow she has this impression that I’m a bad person, that I have ulterior motives, how can I convince anybody of my genuineness and sincerity?” Winfield said, “Ultimately, what was most important to me at that particular moment was leaving with my integrity.”
Winfield said he was “politically naïve” about the recall, and was only drawn into the process because he believed in changing the town for the better. “I was admittedly naïve as to how that would be interpreted,” he said.
No longer running during a recall effort, Winfield said this year’s election is his chance to show residents how much he cares for Oro Valley, and that he would only work towards widespread improvement as the mayor.
The Town of Oro Valley will conduct a Primary election on August 28, 2018 for the purpose of filling three Councilmember seats and one Mayoral seat. Additionally, there will be one question on the Primary ballot regarding Home Rule – Alternative Expenditure Limitation.
The Primary election will be conducted as a polling place election. Voters may request an early mail ballot for a specific election or they may request to be placed on the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) and receive mail ballots for all elections. For more information, contact the Pima County Recorder’s Office at 520-724-4330.
As required by law, an informational pamphlet regarding the Home Rule – Alternative Expenditure Limitation question will be prepared and mailed to each household with a registered voter not less than 35 days before the date of the election.
Primary Election – Tuesday, August 28, 2018 *Registration closes Monday, July 30, 2018 at midnight
General Election – Tuesday, November 6, 2018 *Registration closes Monday, October 8, 2018 at midnight
For election results, please visit the Pima County Elections Department
To register to vote or to obtain additional election information, please visit the Pima County Recorder’s Office
Oro Valley will have to decide whether to put about $5 million into its struggling golf operations to fix aging infrastructure and make significant changes to the community center that houses a restaurant, the town’s manager told council members.
Town Manager Mary Jacobs said without millions in additional investments — the city has already spent roughly $2.7 million in upgrades after it voted to acquire three courses, with 45 total holes, in 2014 — the town will have limited options to increase the financial outlook of its golf operations.
In December 2014, the Town Council voted 4-3 in favor of purchasing El Conquistador Country Club for $1 million, a deal that included a half-cent sales-tax increase to pay for the since-completed renovations to turn the club into a community center that is open to the public.
The Oro Valley Community Center has two 18-hole golf courses. The town also operates the Pusch Ridge Golf Course, which has nine holes.
“It is my professional opinion that pre-purchase financial/operational projections were overly optimistic in suggesting that initially needed capital investments in the aging facility and golf courses could be paid from the Community Center Fund,” Jacobs wrote in a recent memo to the Town Council. “The financial model was overly reliant on a projected increase in membership, something that did not transpire as expected.”
“This is very much a chicken-and-egg scenario. The condition of the facility and courses at the time of its purchase by the town necessitates further immediate investment in order to get the operations at a point where they can be sustainable within the fund.”
Officials expect that the golf operations this fiscal year are on track and will not require additional funds from the town’s general fund to operate.
However, there are a number of looming infrastructure issues facing the courses, including irrigation systems in all three courses that generally are past their useful life.
“The irrigation (systems are) inefficient, costly to maintain and likely leaking significantly,” Jacobs said.
The town spends about $1 million on water for the golf courses annually.
There were serious conversations about downsizing the two main golf courses from 36 holes to 27, but town officials believe the savings from reducing operations would not make up for the projected loss in revenue from fewer holes.
Rob DeMore, vice president of operations for Troon, a private golf management consultant, said the proposal to eliminate nine holes of golf from the main courses is problematic, as it would cost the city money upfront to reconfigure the courses and find new recreational uses for portions of the courses no longer used for golf.
Troon has operated the courses for the town for the last three years. It notes that projections show the current 36-hole configuration will continue to generate more revenue than the 27-hole option.
“There is an enormous competitive advantage to have two 18-hole golf courses,” DeMore told the council recently.
He said if the council backs a plan to reduce the number of holes from 36 to 27, it could lose as much as 35 percent of its revenue from golfers.
DeMore was less enthusiastic about the Pusch Ridge course, saying the number of rounds being played at the nine-hole course has largely been stagnant over the last three years and the course is expensive to operate, as it relies on potable water for irrigation.
The town has been discussing with HSL Properties, which owns the Hilton El Conquistador resort, about taking over the Pusch Ridge course. Jacobs said no final decision has been reached and the town has already budgeted for the next fiscal year to continue operations at Pusch Ridge.
Citing increased demand for the town’s recreational facilities, Jacobs discussed plans to increase indoor space at the community center’s clubhouse, home to The Overlook restaurant, which continues to lose money.
“The Overlook is just not viable anymore,” Jacobs told the council recently. The town projects the restaurant will lose $100,000 in the current fiscal cycle. The town solicited bids for a private business to take over the restaurant, but Jacobs said it did not get any offers.
The council was asked by Jacobs to consider converting the 5,282-square-foot restaurant, which features high ceilings and a loft-like view overlooking the golf course and surrounding Santa Catalina Mountains, into a recreational and fitness space.
The Garden Cafe on the ground floor of the community center could be expanded and turned into a self-serve bar and grill, eliminating table service. The change in the type of restaurant service with a limited menu would help reduce food and personnel costs, Jacobs said.
Councilman Steve Solomon said he mostly has been getting calls from residents and golfers who want the council to keep the two main 18-hole courses untouched, with concerns ranging from maintaining property values and keeping the courses in good condition.
Councilwoman Mary Snider said the council is looking at more than golf, stressing the changes to the community center will benefit the entire town.
A final decision on golf operations — including how to pay it for it — will be made in a few months, Jacobs said. At a recent meeting, the council leaned toward not making any changes to the two 18-hole courses but asked staff for more information.
In its first year of operation, the city had to shore up the golf enterprise with $863,000 from the general fund after putting in $2 million into the golf course and restaurant.
In the following cycle, fiscal year 2016-2017, the golf enterprise fund ended up $600,000 in the red.
Jacobs said that for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, the enterprise will be revenue neutral .