By Rich Vitiello
“Troublesome alliance” is what the incumbent termed the relationship between Sheriff Paul Babeu and me. Tony Smith might want to look in the mirror before he casts stones.
There’s a reason that the sheriff endorses me, and I was endorsed in my 2014 bid for Maricopa City Council by our firefighters and police officers: I support the efforts and dedication of our public safety personnel – all of them, not just the first responders. The incumbent doesn’t.
In a time of increased need and population growth, the incumbent slashed public safety and other budgets across the board, regardless of the consequences. A 10-percent reduction in essential services means residents of Pinal County are doomed to suffer from potential increased emergency response time and a manpower shortage of untold proportion. He’s cut essential services to the people who depend on them the most while at the same time spending taxpayer dollars needlessly.
The people of Pinal County don’t need ineffective leadership and mismanagement resulting in cuts to public services, bloated government and wasted taxpayer dollars. But that is what the incumbent has brought. People looking for leadership in government don’t like to be taken for a ride. They need honest representation. Not the Smith experience.
Soon after taking office on a “fiscal responsibility” mandate, the incumbent gave his staff a 28-percent pay raise against county personnel policies. This, to the expense of county taxpayers and the rest of the county’s employees who didn’t get a dime in raises, and many who faced layoffs due to budget cuts. Not to mention the critical public safety positions that can’t be filled because of his actions.
What this supervisor has brought is a higher risk to the residents of Pinal County by a reduction of personnel and resources dedicated to policing our streets, keeping our residents safe, healthy, and prosecuting criminals apprehended.
That’s the Smith experience.
On his watch we saw a medical marijuana distribution center placed in his district over the objections of his constituents. He voted for it. Did he look to see if the person at the end of that business chain is a convicted criminal wanting to get a license to distribute pot and keep the cash? I seriously doubt it.
He accepted a $1,250 campaign contribution from another medical marijuana dispensary applicant in April 2015. It’s on his campaign finance reports. A short time later, he voted to approve that facility just outside the Florence city limits.
He OK’ed an open grow marijuana farm in the unincorporated area outside of Casa Grande. The property owner was represented by none other than his law firm benefactor. Could it be another coincidence? I don’t think so.
That’s more Smith experience. We don’t need it.
Looking at his campaign finance reports is concerning, to say the least. When a campaign donor list looks like a who’s who of people who depend on a politician voting the “right” way, residents should be alarmed. That type of troubling alliance is especially concerning when campaign donors and a law firm are tied to the politician at the hip.
The people put out of their jobs because of his failures are our friends, neighbors and family members, having needs and obligations of their own. These are public servants, many of whom took an oath of office to serve and put the public good ahead of themselves. This supervisor’s lack of leadership and dismal performance can’t be justified. That’s troublesome. That’s not the type of leadership voters want. I say it’s time for a change.
Rich Vitiello is a candidate for Pinal County Board of Supervisors, District 4.