The two overriding themes as Pinal County District 4 Supervisor candidates Republican Anthony Smith and Democrat Henry Wade participated in a Saturday candidate forum were planning and serving the community.
Smith, former Maricopa mayor, said his track record of accomplishment and successful planning would help him lead the county towards prosperity.
“During (my four years as major) we went through one of the worst recessions in our lifetime. And we’re able to come from that recession being one of the healthiest communities in the metro-Phoenix area,” he said.
Wade, a former vice-chairman of the Maricopa Planning and Zoning Committee, said his 20 years in the military taught him to get the job done, regardless of political affiliation.
“I understand that tasks have to be done and I am task oriented, I also understand that there have to be commitments to the community that I serve and every morning I will serve you just like I served this country,” he said.
Pinal County will have five supervisors after this election cycle, compared to three in previous years because of an increase of around 250,000 people and redistricting. The district encompasses the cities of Maricopa, Saddlebrooke and Arizona City.
Both candidates promised to seek outside funding for the separation project on Arizona 347, which is estimated to cost $65 million, but disagreed on where that funding should come from.
Smith said he doesn’t believe a private-public partnership is a solution; the county will be able to receive funding from federal and state agencies.
Wade said the county should look to public-private partnerships in addition to other federal and state agencies.
“There are still problems associated with some of the plans,” Wade said. If elected as supervisor, he said he would make sure the separation project, and any other projects, have the proper oversight.
Smith said that it was because of his work as mayor the separation plan was taken off the shelf and developed.
“(The city council) were able to pull it off the shelf and get it started and moved on to a design concept,” he said.
Both candidates support the development of Interstate 11.
Wade said the funding for the project was not there and the Interstate was 25 years away from being accomplished. He said he would like to see a light rail connecting Maricopa to the Phoenix area.
Smith said the $1.4 million corridor study for the project had been funded and that the Interstate was an important project to take Maricopa to the next level of growth. He said he had been an advocated for the project since the beginning.Both candidates said something needs to be done about the danger of the drug cartels in the Vekol Valley and Stanfield area.
“I am very much offended that we live an hour and a half away from the border and yet we are not able to go an enjoy a part of the United States that is just within eye view of our city,” Smith said. He is concerned with drug and human trafficking: “We need to continue working with the sheriff and the Native American community” to make the area safer.
Wade said he grew up in South Los Angeles and understands what it means to be under siege and be scared to leave the house at night.
Wade said that while the sheriff has done a lot and has many volunteers, more needs to be done to make it a safe area for residents. “That is a corridor that needs some serious work, I’m upset with the fact that we talk about but we don’t necessarily get right down to getting something done about it,” he said.
The candidates met Saturday in a forum co-sponsored by InMaricopa.com and Maricopa Monitor.