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letter to the editor

Judy Webster runs Camino Montessori in Maricopa. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

An open letter to the Maricopa community

By Judy Webster

As many of you are aware, Camino Montessori closed its doors at the end of the school day on Oct. 5. This was a gut-wrenching decision, and I am absolutely brokenhearted about it. It was my dream to bring affordable Montessori education to a community that did not have it. I have poured my heart and soul into this dream for the past nine years, and even two weeks after we closed our doors I continue to grieve over the closing. It is not something I ever dreamed would happen.

I feel terrible for the staff that gave their all to make this a successful school. I feel terrible about not being able to continue the mission of bringing Montessori education to the Maricopa community. Above all else, I feel terrible anguish for letting down the children and families that called Camino their school.
I totally understand the anger that some people have expressed about the closing and especially about the very short notice that was given. If we could have found any way to move forward without closing or if we could have found any way to keep the doors open longer (end of October, end of semester, end of the year) we would have pursued it. The fact of the matter is, we ran out of money.

Many may say that Camino must have known that there were money problems. The answer to that is yes, we knew it was going to be very tight. We lost a lot of enrollment during the second semester last year but managed to make it to the end of the school year. We were convinced that by adding enrollment over the summer, we would be able to continue to keep the doors open. During the summer we did indeed increase the enrollment to a number that would have supported the school but unfortunately on the first day of school, many of the new enrollees did not show up.

Through August and September, we looked at many options to keep the doors open including but not limited to the hiring of a management company to take over operations, combining classrooms, reducing staff, selling the property we had purchased, etc. In the end, we did not see a way to continue without building excessive debt. My husband and I have put a great deal of our own money into this school (our choice) but the well dried up, we did not have funds to meet the needs to continue the school. We seriously doubt we will ever recoup that money. We also understand that this is a risk of running a business.

There were other dynamics to the financial issues that I will not go into in this letter as we adhere to strict confidentiality when it comes to personnel, students, business and potential business partners. I will not “throw anyone under the bus.” Needless to say, all of it related to enrollment or, more fitting, lack of enrollment. The bottom line is, I was the charter holder, I was the director of the school and I accept responsibility.

It is very important for me to let everyone know that the school complied with all legal requirements for students. We alerted staff and families the day after the Board voted to close the school. Understanding that the abrupt closing was going to be difficult for the children and their families we tried to do everything we could think of to help make the change as seamless as possible. We gave families a list of charter, private and public schools along with contact information and provided a handout about home schooling. The day after we let the families know we were closing, we contacted nearly every school on that list to let them know that we were closing and got information about openings they had. We shared that information with the families as well. I offered to meet one on one with any families that wanted help finding new schools. We made copies of all student records and made them available to families on the last day so that they would have the information to give to their child’s potential new school. The staff and I did everything we could think of to make the last couple of days at Camino as positive experience as possible.

I would like to thank the Maricopa community for the incredible support you have shown for Camino Montessori. From government officials to businesses to the wonderful families and children, I will never forget you. I truly hope that someday you will find it in your heart to forgive Camino for the abrupt closing.

Very Sincerely,

Judy Webster
Camino Montessori

By Ralph Atchue

Ralph Atchue

I’m Ralph Atchue, your candidate for the Arizona State Senate and I need your vote.  There is a clear and distinct difference between my vision and my opponent’s long voting record.  Here are just a few key issues:

I support full funding for public education – teachers’ pay and the entire system.  We are still $800 million/year below 2008 funding.

I propose a non-partisan comprehensive audit of the state’s tax policies.  I intend to find every loophole and credit that is not paying a return on investment – those funds can pay for improved education, infrastructure, health care (Maricopa should have a hospital) and reduction of skyrocketing sales taxes.  Our economy can and should work for every family.

I demand protections be strengthened for our public lands and vital resources.  I will fight to make sure future generations have clean air and pure sustained water.  We cannot risk our environment for short term profit.

I pledge to investigate and stop all forms of unethical practices within state government.  We must not allow conflicts of interest that result in elected legislators using their positions of power to profit from tax payer money. We deserve ethical government that is transparent and accountable.

I commit to working with teachers, parents, law enforcement and students to find ways to make our schools safer. I will never allow a gun lobby to protect ideology over the safety of our children.

2018 gives us a chance to make some changes.  As a Clean Elections Candidate, I owe all my allegiance to you – Arizona’s voters.  I’m ready to get to work for you.

Ralph Atchue is the Democratic nominee for State Senate LD 11.

 

By Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith (submitted photo)

Please join me in supporting my friend Bret Roberts for Arizona House of Representatives in District 11.

As a member of the City of Maricopa’s City Council I know, first hand, that our city is desperate for a representative who understands the needs of cities and counties as they set their legislation and budget at the state level. Bret Roberts has taken the time to speak to me and ask me about those needs. No other candidate has shown this same level of interest.

Over the last 18 months, Bret Roberts has also spent significant time understanding the main issues at the state level. Bret has served the public very well in his current position as Constable and I believe he has the skills and passion to continue fighting for Maricopa voters especially as it relates to his commitment to secure our border, support law enforcement, promote economic opportunity and invest in education.

I encourage you to strongly consider supporting a candidate who understands the needs of Maricopa as well as the rest of District 11. Support Bret Roberts for Arizona House of Representatives in District 11.

 


Nancy Smith is a City of Maricopa Council Member

By Vincent Manfredi

Vincent Manfredi

When you go to vote this coming election, I think the choice for constable in Maricopa and Stanfield is clear.

Glenn Morrison is my choice and I ask you to also support him. Glenn puts his life on the line to protect you and I every time he puts on his Pinal County Sheriff Office Posse uniform. He has volunteered thousands of hours in the last 7 years patrolling communities in Pinal County ensuring the safety of the residents. Glenn does not get paid to be a Posse member but does it as a service to his community. What could be a better example of community service?

Glenn has been part of the community for years well before he decided to run for office. It is hard to think of someone more suited to hold the office of Constable. Glenn is endorsed by Pinal County Supervisor and former Maricopa Mayor Anthony Smith, Current Maricopa Mayor Christian Price, Current Vice Mayor Peg Chapados, Council Member Nancy Smith, Current Constable Bret Roberts, State Sen. Steve Smith, State Representatives Mark Finchem and Vince Leach, Pinal County Deputy Association, Firefighters Local and others. With that much support it’s a good bet he is known to be involved and active, in Maricopa and beyond.

So, whether you vote on election day or early ballot, vote Morrison for Constable.

Vincent Manfredi is a Maricopa Council Member.

By Merry Grace

Merry Grace

The election of our next constable is not one to be taken lightly.  This elected position is for a peace officer tasked with the execution of orders from the Justice Court. These orders can include, but are not limited to, evictions, protection, seizure of property, service of criminal and civil subpoenas and summonses, orders to collect judgments, and more.

As a mom, I am endorsing Mr. Andre LaFond as he brings with him a strong commitment to service and community while using his skills and experience to carry out those orders and tasks. Andre LaFond brings with him 14 years of private law enforcement, experience as an Army veteran, leadership experience as an Eagle Scout and various community outreach training, service and collaborative ethics to put service before self.  Mr. LaFond hopes to further his impact as constable by offering resources and support to people such as evictees or domestic violence victims and expand support programs. He holds this position in the highest regard and will work hard to ensure the safety of our citizens while collaborating with law enforcement.

Most important to me is his desire and commitment to work with the City of Maricopa Police Department to bridge the gap and build a partnership. I have seen Mr. LaFond at school safety meetings, community meetings and various events. Not only does he engage in the discussions and works to become a part of the solutions but he goes the extra step to provide information and resources by way of posting recaps on social media especially when it comes to safety.  We need continued support from our elected officials to lead by example while increasing community engagement and involvement.

I see Mr. LaFond holding this position with the utmost respect while working hard to develop community support and increase partnerships to better our community.  Creating and developing a partnership with local and county law enforcement while bridging the gap with city organizations, schools, citizens and leaders will only lead to a thriving community all while serving and protecting our citizens.

Join me in electing Andre LaFond as our next constable.


Merry Grace is a resident of Maricopa.

By Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith (submitted photo)

The constable for the Justice Court Precinct #4 is an important position for our voters to spend time researching.  In my research I believe Glenn Morrison is the best candidate for the job.

It is important for the elected constable to have qualities of trust, relationship and team building skills, and it’s a plus if the candidate has experience in public law enforcement. Glenn Morrison has all these skills. More importantly, the constable must have skilled experience in conflict resolution and de-escalation. This job can be very challenging, and having these skills and experience will benefit our residents.

Glenn Morrison has 7+ years of experience in dealing with the public in stressful and potential life-altering situations. He has served in the Pinal County Sheriff’s Patrol Posse and he is trained by the Arizona Constables Association. He is trained and ready to serve.

I encourage you to strongly consider supporting Glenn Morrison as Constable for the Justice Court Precinct #4.  I do.


Nancy Smith is a member of the City of Maricopa Council.


Meet the constable candidates

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Photo by Mason Callejas

By Julia Gusse

Julia Gusse (submitted photo)

With the passing of Sen. John McCain, many were reminded of his service to our country in both the military and the Senate.  Many of us appreciate the passion he had for assuring our service men and women did not go without.  He looked out for his brothers and sisters in uniform during his time in captivity until the days and weeks prior to his passing.  Regardless of how you felt about his politics, in my opinion, Sen. McCain was always watching out for us (active duty and military veterans).  There are organizations set up to “watch out” for veterans but getting this information to those in need doesn’t come easy.  


For the most part, our military veterans aren’t looking for a handout. As a matter of fact, the majority of our veterans don’t know about the services nor do they seek the services that are readily available to them. It is only when they are in desperate need that they start reaching out and even then, our typical vet will work the situation out and struggle before asking for help.  Asking for help does not come easy for our vets but what if our entire Maricopa community was aware of services and “watched out” for them, the same way they “watched out” for us/our country?


This year Maricopa will plan many informational events, including a veterans suicide prevention workshop, please stay informed.  Maricopa Veterans Organizations, led by the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 133, will also hold its second annual Maricopa Veterans Day Parade.  A perfect way to get involved and “watch out” for our vets is by participating. It is only an hour or two of your time with a lifetime of rewards to our veterans.  The parade will be held on Nov. 10.
 To participate or for more information, please email auxiliarypresident@alpost133az.org.

Julia Gusse is a member of the Maricopa City Council.

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By Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith (submitted photo)

I endorse Mr. Glenn Morrison for constable for the Justice Court Precinct #4 in Pinal County. Last spring, after several meetings and checking with other elected officeholders, I determined that Glenn has the qualifications and character to perform the important role as your constable.

In preparing for the important job of Constable, Glenn has assembled an impressive list of experiences. Since 2011, Glenn has been a member of Pinal County’s Sheriff Patrol Posse, he is a successful businessman involved in his community and is a member of the Arizona Constables Association.

I truly believe Glenn Morrison will make an outstanding constable and hope you give him your vote too.


Anthony Smith is a resident of Maricopa and a Pinal County Supervisor.

By Rich Vitiello

Rich Vitiello (submitted photo)

Dear Maricopa:

Thank you. It will be an honor and privilege serving you, the residents of Maricopa, when I take the oath of office in December. I would like to thank you for your support not only during the campaign, but in the voting booth. Every vote counts and every vote is special. I pledge to be the best council representative I can be – for you and for all of Maricopa.

My family, friends and supporters know that I am a man of my word, and I am as committed to serving this city as I am in caring for our home. This is where we live, and this is where we are.

I am forever grateful for the unwavering encouragement and strength I have received from my wife, family and close friends. Without you, I could never have done it. You, especially, Joann, you are my rock.

Again, thank you, Maricopa.


Rich Vitiello was elected outright to the Maricopa City Council in Tuesday’s Primary Election and was the top vote-getter.

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Sen. John McCain

Sen. John McCain impacted countless Arizonans. The Bartles are among them.

Scott Bartle, InMaricopa publisher

Sen. McCain offered my brother an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and, as my dad says, “dramatically changed the course of our family’s life.”

Coincidentally, Sen. McCain finished what he started when he delivered the commencement address for my brother’s graduating class in 1993. His speech in many ways paralleled the man – witty, humble, patriotic, prophetic, selfless and timeless.

And it’s worth a read.

 

Thank you, Admiral Lynch, Secretary-Designate Dalton, Admiral Kelso, General Mundy, members of the Board of Visitors, members of Congress, fellow midshipmen of the Class of 1958, distinguished guests, families and friends. And thank you, midshipmen of the Class of 1993.

To say that I am very grateful to be asked to address you is a gross understatement. In my life, I have never known a greater honor . . . nor one so unexpected.

Thirty-five years ago, I sat where you sit today, listening to my Commander-in-Chief, Dwight David Eisenhower. If one of my classmates had suggested then, that I might someday enjoy the same privilege as President Eisenhower, I would have had very grave doubts about his suitability for future command. My old company commander, Captain Hunt, who for four years devoted himself to tracking my nocturnal sojourns outside the walls of the Academy, would have certainly shared my skepticism.

But America is a land of opportunity where anything is possible. And my being given this honor proves it. In gratitude, and in memory of that occasion thirty-five years ago, I intend to keep my remarks brief. I suspect you have other plans for the day which you would prefer to commence sooner rather than later.

You have all completed four years of rigorous, difficult instruction, and are about to begin your careers as officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps. I want to first congratulate all those midshipmen who distinguished themselves as leaders of your class.

Those of you who do not enjoy that distinction deserve congratulations as well. Although academic and other honors may have eluded you, the standards here are such that simply surviving the four years reflects great credit on your ability and dedication. I say that with all sincerity.

My four years here were not notable for individual academic achievement but, rather, for the impressive catalogue of demerits which I managed to accumulate. By my reckoning, at the end of my second class year, I had marched enough extra duty to take me to Baltimore and back seventeen times – which, if not a record, certainly ranks somewhere very near the top.

All of you represent as a class the very best of America’s most precious resource – her youth. You have been educated in a tradition which I believe still ranks among the noblest endeavors of humankind. You have been imbued with a sense of duty and honor which is the American ideal, and the premise for much of our enduring legacy to the world.

In 1970, my father stood where I stand today. I would have greatly enjoyed attending that graduation had I not been otherwise engaged at the time. I imagine, however, that he told you in different words what I will tell you today: On your shoulders, America now places our most treasured hopes and our gravest cares.

With your commissions come responsibilities so immense and so important that the lives of all Americans and the welfare of much of the world will be directly affected by how well you discharge them. I have every confidence that you will acquit yourselves with distinction.

My confidence is not an empty conceit for how I first made my own way in the world. But it is rooted in my experiences as the progeny of admirals, as an Academy midshipman, as a naval officer, as a witness to heroism.

My grandfather was an aviator. My father, a submariner. Most of my heroes, the people whom I have admired above all others have made their living at sea in defense of their country’s cause. For much of my life, the Navy was the only world I knew. It is still the world I know best and love most.

I know the character of Americans who take up arms to defend our nation’s interests and to advance our democratic values. I know of all the battles, all the grim tests of courage and character, that have made a legend of the Navy and Marine Corps’ devotion to duty.

When he addressed the Class of 1970, my father, who knew well the price of freedom, observed the noble heritage which the midshipmen were entering by directing their attention to the sacrifices borne by their predecessors.

“The historic battles in which they fought are recorded on both sides of this beautiful stadium,” he said.

“Their names are memorialized on plaques on the back of seats now occupied by your families and friends. These officers were imbued with a sense of loyalty and dedication which scorns vacillation and doubt.”

I know that the character of which my father spoke is formed from many experiences. But I know also that you here today have been inducted into a tradition where you are expected to hold to the highest standards of honor in every aspect of your life. That is your advantage over other men and women. And that is why your country expects so much of you.

You have been taught much of what is necessary to lead other men and women in war and peace. You will learn much more from your approaching experiences. As ensigns and second lieutenants, the character of the young sailors and marines entrusted to your care will be formed in large part by their appreciation of your character.

You are where leadership begins. You are the models who stand just past the sergeants and chiefs, and those under your command will derive from your behavior the direction of their own lives. Their firm respect for you, on which their lives and our security will depend, will be determined by how faithfully you keep, on duty and off, the code you learned here.

This responsibility is yours for every waking minute of every day that you wear an officer’s uniform. When you forget your duty, others will suffer, but you will be called to account. If you dishonor yourself, you will dishonor your service.

In other walks of life, human failings may pass unnoticed. In our walk of life, their consequences are almost always devastating.

They may lead to the breakdown of good order and discipline because you disillusioned those who were inclined to follow your example. They may lead to the death of fine young men and women who were obliged to put their faith in your leadership. They may even threaten the trust of the people you are sworn to defend, and undermine the exquisite relationship between civilians and the military in a democratic society.

Such was the case in the recent Tailhook scandal. Such is also the case when we forget, even momentarily, our requirement to respect and obey our civilian commanders. When the American people elect a leader to govern the affairs of our great nation, our respect for their authority must remain inviolate. For it is that respect from which our profession derives so much of its nobility in a democracy.

Your commanders and instructors have worked hard to impart these lessons to you. Your constant remembrance of them will sustain you through long months at sea, long separations from family and friends; through the terror of combat, through grave injury, cruel imprisonment and even, if so required, unto death.

You know as well as I, that the world in which you take your commissions is an uncertain one. I have always tried to follow the advice of that venerable philosopher Yogi Berra, who said “never make predictions, especially when you’re talking about the future.”

But there are a few things I can venture an opinion on with some degree of confidence. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, we have overcome a single massive threat to our security — a massive threat, but a reasonably predictable one.

But the world remains a dangerous place. And you will sail into a world where the threats to our security and our values are more numerous, more varied, more complex and, at times, much more obscure.

Yours is a world where power projection must become the essence of our national defense. The Navy and the Marine Corps will form the core of that strategy. The United States has exerted military force 240 times since the end of World War II. Eighty percent of those occasions involved the use of sea power. That percentage will almost certainly increase in the future.

We have seen the efficacy of U.S. military power in this new era displayed in Panama, in the Persian Gulf, and in Somalia. But we have also seen conflicts that reveal the limits of that efficacy, and for which we have few, if any, viable military answers. Such is the case in the horrible tragedy of Bosnia.

This will be a difficult world to stabilize, much less pacify. It will be difficult to anticipate the level and direction of threats. It will be difficult at times to distinguish friend from foe. It is a daunting challenge to protect our most vital interests in such a world. It will prove even more difficult to secure the success of liberty amidst the new uncertainties and recurring hostilities of our time.

But be assured, you will be called upon to do both. For we know how important our armed forces have been to advancing the just influence of our values. The Iron Curtain did not collapse by accident. The triumph of freedom in the world today is a direct consequence of the blood shed by those who have gone before you in battles too numerous to mention. Their sacrifices protected more than a narrow definition of our national interest. They served, in Lincoln’s words, as “a beacon light of liberty” to the most oppressed societies on earth.

One of the most compelling illustrations of the power of their sacrifice occurred four years ago in a Prague square, when a young Czech worker stood before a million of his countrymen, while two hundred thousand Russian troops occupied his country, and, trembling with emotion, read a manifesto that declared a new day for the peoples of Eastern Europe. But he began that new day with borrowed words when he proclaimed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Now, you are the shield behind which marches the enduring message of our own revolution. As I have said, it will be no easy task. But I trust in your willingness and your ability to undertake it.

I hold that trust in deference to my memories of this place, to the men who preceded me here, and to the men and women who followed me. We all shared with you that sense of duty and honor which, as my father said, scorns vacillation and doubt. Here we learned to dread dishonor above all other temptations.

Soon after I became an involuntary guest of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, my hosts tried to persuade me to make a tape recording in which I would denounce my country’s cause. When I resisted, they entreated me to do so by promising me that no one would know of my disloyalty. I responded, “But I would know. I would know.”

Virtually all of my comrades who shared my situation responded in the same way.

There may be times in your life when the consequences of your devotion to duty are so dire that you will be tempted to abandon it. There may be times when truly only you will know. But you will resist. I know you will. I know this because I have seen how profoundly human strength is empowered by the standards of our tradition.

You see, I have spent time in the company of heroes. And I was raised on tales of surpassing courage and selfless devotion to duty. I have seen and heard of Americans who overcame extraordinary challenges on behalf of their country in struggles almost mythic in their dimensions.

I have seen aviators hurled off the decks of pitching ships, fly powerfully into grave harm, vastly beyond the bounds of normal human caution.

I know well the gunners’ stories of having choked back horror to face bravely the attacking kamikaze.

I have heard the tales of men, fathoms down, blind to the rest of the world, prowling the treacherous battlefields of the ocean depths in combat so terrifying it passes much of human understanding.

I stood on the deck of the carrier Forrestal, and watched the crew of that magnificent ship answer their summons to heroism, as one hundred and thirty-four of their number perished while fighting a fire that nearly consumed the ship. They fought all day and well into the next, with the tenacity usually reserved for hand-to-hand combat, and they saved the Forrestal.

I have seen the swift boats roar into harm’s way, vulnerable even to small arms fire, and defenseless save for the quick instincts and steel nerves of their crews.

As an adolescent, I heard men talk in whispered awe of a bleak, frozen terrain where the Marines of the First Division had struggled yard by yard, endured the sharp bite of Siberian winds to smash through seven enemy divisions. Their determined ferocity ranked their retreat from the frozen Chosin in the first order of honored American battles.

I have met the fierce warriors called SEALS, whose desperate fights occur beyond the reach of their nation’s artillery, and beyond the limit of human endurance.

I have watched men suffer the anguish of imprisonment, defy appalling human cruelty until further resistance is impossible, break for a moment, then recover inhuman strength to defy their enemies once more.

All these things and more, I have seen. And so will you.

I will go to my grave in gratitude to my Creator for allowing me to stand witness to such courage and honor. And so will you.

My time is slipping by. Yours is fast approaching. You will know where your duty lies. You will know.

God bless you. Semper Fi. Fair winds and following seas.

By Hollace Lyon 

Hollace Lyon (submitted photo)

You’ve probably heard about the recent increase in secondary property tax rates in Maricopa as a result of the Legislature’s change to desegregation-related school funding. There’s been a lot of good talk about the merits of the funding, but I’d like to talk about process and priorities.

I believe real fiscal responsibility means not only protecting taxpayer dollars, but actually providing taxpayers what they are paying for, and that’s been a chronic problem with our Legislature. Yes, we should care whether the deseg dollars are being spent wisely, but we should also care that all students have an opportunity for equity and access. To that end, I’d rather see our Legislature stop encouraging the siphoning away of over $1 billion in vouchers and private school tax credits with no accountability, instead of chasing down $200 million state-wide in desegregation funds. How about taking a serious look at the almost $14 billion in annual tax giveaways increased every year since the 1990s, now nearly 1.5 times the state budget.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are legitimate reasons for tax incentives. But those incentives should deliver a return on investment— a principle that should guide our expenditure of all precious taxpayer dollars.

Instead, Senator Steve Smith decries desegregation funds as “unfair to taxpayers.” What is “unfair to taxpayers” is diverting the funding they pay to improve schools and roads, not fixing those schools and roads, and then forcing the counties and cities to raise more taxes to actually get it done. Prop. 301 inflation funding and Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) monies are just two examples. Another is the Legislature’s “funneling of $25 million away from our 911 center fund” and, you guessed it, forcing funding responsibility down to localities. You’re now paying twice for the same service.  Maricopa Councilwoman Nancy Smith noted recently, “I have a big concern with the common practice that our legislators have of balancing the budget on the backs of cities and counties,” when she was talking about yet another example.

Rather than looking for more ways to cut funding to our district schools, state lawmakers ought to be finding ways to provide them stable, dedicated funding. After all, one of their primary constitutional responsibilities is to “provide for the establishment and maintenance of a general and uniform public school system” across the state. Yes, they must also balance the budget. But they have many tools at their disposal without continually shifting costs down onto the backs of our small businesses and citizens, the ones who ultimately end up paying for it.

Imagine if instead of dictating from on high, our state lawmakers believed in collaborating with schools districts, cities, and counties. Imagine, if they did their jobs without concern for who got the credit.  Imagine…then vote with that end in mind.  Rewarding their behavior just emboldens it.  Send them the signal that it’s time for a new approach.

Hollace Lyon is a Democrat candidate for LD11 House of Representatives.

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Christine Dickinson

 

By Christine Dickinson

In November of 2016, the voters of Maricopa passed a maintenance and operations override for our school district. Voters were educated on the three main goals of this override:

1. Lower class sizes through the hiring new educators

2. Increase instructional technology

3. Allow for expanded instructional programs including an alternative high school program at Maricopa High School.

No one worked harder on the override campaign than Councilmember Vincent Manfredi.

Vince arranged for weekly meetings, which were often attended by fellow Councilman Henry Wade and Constable Bret Roberts (candidate for LD11 House seat), but meetings were just the tip of the iceberg for this campaign. Councilmember Manfredi organized fundraisers, phone banks, social media coverage and neighborhood canvassing. Vince sacrificed time with his family to help Maricopa organize and run an effective campaign.

The override positions were filled prior to the beginning of the 2017 school year and helped to lower the class sizes in MUSD and provide for support positions within the District. Nearly 600 student laptops were purchased and ready to use on the first day of the school year. RAM Academy was also up and running for students seeking an alternative program for graduation within Maricopa Unified.

None these accomplishments would not have been possible without the hard work of Councilman Manfredi and the team.

I was proud to be the staff liaison for the election that year and see the countless hours that Vince put into the campaign. I am proud of the partnership that City Council has formed with our schools to strengthen community involvement in our schools. I am also proud to see Councilmember Wade at nearly every School Board meeting I attend.

With all of this said I am so proud to see two of our councilmembers being so involved in our schools in so many facets. In case you did not know, they have also served on our annual MUSD20 District Budget Committees, attend many extra-curricular activities and donate time to our schools.

I am proud to vote for incumbents Henry Wade and Vincent Manfredi for Maricopa City Council and ask everyone to do the same.

Christine Dickinson is a technology integration specialist at MUSD.

 

 

Submitted photo

By Julia Gusse and Derek Jeske

Maricopa American Legion Baseball Post #133 has been in existence since 2012. This is the only program in Maricopa for young men (ages 13-19) that is free of charge and ran by veterans and civilian volunteers. American Legion baseball prides itself on strong ethics and developing Americanism amongst our players. On Fourth of July we had the opportunity to play our third annual Community Softball Game (Community Leaders vs. Legion Baseball team), an opportunity for us to have fun and collaborate with our home town community.

In the past years our Legion players have enlisted in the military; Axel Uriarte (Army), Jacob Owings (Air Force) and in a few weeks Kevin McDill will be headed out to Marine Corps basic training. Last year for the first time in our program’s history one of our players, Jackson Stensguard, went off to play at Winona State College in Minnesota; he remains on that team as a sophomore this fall.

Our small program has been developing these young men throughout the years to represent Maricopa and it is with great pride that we announce our four Legion players that have committed to play college ball this Fall; Mason Williamson (Northeastern Junior College, Colorado) Taylor Belcher and Tyler Belcher (Colorado Mesa University, Colorado) and Andres Gusse (Manhattan Christian College, Kansas).

We want to thank all our local sponsors and especially our coaches for their leadership and dedication to these young men. On behalf of the Bernie G. Crouse, American Legion Post 133, we want to wish these young men a successful military career and college baseball year.

Julia R. Gusse is Post #133 Legion Baseball Coordinator
Derek Jeske is Post Commander

Kevin McDill. Submitted photo
Andres Gusse. Submitted photo

By Steve Gillingham

Having a background in the financial industry, a candidate’s financial record-keeping is one of the items I consider when choosing a candidate. Compliance to the financial rules and deadlines speaks volumes on the candidate’s integrity, transparency, accountability, attention to detail and the ability to read and follow instructions.

Any candidate committee with financial activity is required to file quarterly financial reports, including schedules of activities. All reports are deemed filed under penalty by perjury by the committee treasurer and the candidate. These reports are easily viewed online by the public.

I believe a constable must possess the highest integrity, have good record-keeping habits and pay attention to details. I reviewed the finance reports filed by the committees for the three candidates for Pinal County [Maricopa/Stanfield Justice Court] constable and I was surprised by what I found.

LaFond filed as a committee in November of 2017. A fourth-quarter 2017 financial report was filed on time and included a committee number. They reported an income $430 in loans but did not list the source or amounts of the loans on the detail page. The first quarter 2018 report was filed on time but failed to list the ending balance from the fourth quarter 2017 report as the starting balance for the first quarter 2018. Where did that money go? They report spending about $538 but list no detail as to where it was spent or for what purpose.

A second-quarter 2018 report was filed on time and again they failed to list the $1,991 ending balance from first quarter as the starting balance. They apparently did not follow the instructions on the form and duplicated the income from the first-quarter on the second quarter form, instead of listing just the income for the second quarter. The committee spent over $2,800 but none of these expenses are detailed. What was the money spent on? They are required to include details.

Morrison’s committee filed on June 20, 2017. Since the filing was so late in the quarter, there was no requirement to file a financial report for second quarter. They filed financial reports for third quarter 2017, fourth quarter 2017, and first and second quarter 2018. All were filed on time. All reports have a committee number. All reports list the income and expenditures in detail, listing the source of the income, and what the expenditures were used for.

All reports list the ending balance from one quarter as the starting balance of the next quarter (a proper accounting procedure). Income from each quarter is listed separately on the proper form and the source is documented. They attached a listing of all the donors, including their addresses and occupations.

The Griffin committee filed on 6/30/17. They too had no requirement to file a second quarter financial report. There was a financial report submitted for third quarter 2017, but the box for the committee number was not filled in and they did not check the proper box indicating which period the form was filed for. There is no filing date stamp from the county. The fourth-quarter 2017 form was filed on time, but again, no committee number and they did not check the proper box indicating which period it is filed for. The first quarter 2018 report was filed late – one day past the required reporting period. This time they did indicate which reporting period the report was for, but still did not enter the committee number. The second-quarter 2018 report was filed on time and again had no committee number. The glaring problem with all of this committee’s reports is that the “no financial activity” box was checked on every cover page, and the committee reports no income and no expenses since June 30, 2017. Is this possible? I wonder where the funds came from to pay for all the signs, literature, and giveaway items I have seen. He had a booth at two events that I know of, which he would have had to pay for.

It is easy to see that of the three committees, the Morrison committee has been the most diligent in preparing these forms, complying with the rules and instructions, been the most transparent, and paid attention to detail – all of these characteristics are very important in my choice for a constable.

I want someone who I can trust, and will follow proper procedures, rules, and regulations. I am certain I do not want to go back to the way it was during the term of Judge Sulley!


Steve Gillingham is a resident of Maricopa County.

By Robert Taylor

I am a Maricopa resident since 2009 and a law enforcement professional since 2006 with multiple commendations, including a medal of valor and three lifesaving medals. I am writing this as my personal endorsement for Glenn Morrison for the office of Constable.

As a member of the Sheriff’s Office Posse, Glenn has been my personal backup on many serious and stressful situations where without his interpersonal and de-escalation abilities, the incident would surely have escalated and become much more dangerous. I would not hesitate to enter into any dangerous situation with Glenn as my partner.

Posse members are often the only back up to patrol Deputies and are utilized and viewed as sworn personnel. When Posse members arrive on a scene to assist Deputies, the general public usually cannot tell the difference between Posse and a sworn Deputy. The public is not concerned with a shoulder patch, they simply want and need the help the Posse Member is there to provide in that moment of crisis. Posse members are expected to uphold the same level of integrity, training and abilities as a sworn deputy.

For individuals that want to contradict this, I strongly encourage them to conduct their own research and participate in a ride along with the program. Posse members put themselves at the same risk of injury and death as any other member of law enforcement and do so without compensation.

Over several years working with Glenn in the field, he has earned my respect, trust and confidence. He is a man whose word you can trust and is a dedicated public servant who serves not because it is his job, but because it is his calling and passion. After having researched both of the other candidates, I can without doubt say that Glenn Morrison is the very best candidate for Constable in Maricopa.


Robert Taylor is a resident of Maricopa.

By Andrea C. McElroy

Andrea McElroy (submitted photo)

I am much honored to have been asked to pen this letter for Linette Caroselli, a woman who has dedicated her life to working with people within her community. It has been my pleasure to know Linette for 20 years and she has always been that person who wanted to make things better not only for herself and her family but for everyone. She is a very committed team player but not afraid to step out and lead.

As a school teacher in Paterson, New Jersey,  Linette’s students always soared because of her preparedness and willingness to go above and beyond for her students.  Her students always knew that she was there for them. As a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Linette served the Northeastern Region as the undergraduate chapter coordinator making her responsible for all of the undergraduate members from Maine to North Carolina. This position required frequent traveling with the writing and enforcement of policy. She served in this position with distinction.

As a 12-year member of the Irvington Municipal Council from 2002-2014, Ms Caroselli worked with me on many community initiatives such as the Irvington Scholar Program and Community Development Zones. As a member of a Municipal Council you are responsible for legislating, investigating and appropriating.  Linette Caroselli is capable of these duties. She has the 4 E’s: she is Eloquent, Efficient, Experienced and Effective. A vote for Caroseill is a vote for good government, effective leadership and quality of life improvement.


 

Andrea C. McElroy is a former member of the Irvington, New Jersey, Municipal Council.

By Marvin L. Brown

Marvin Brown. (Photo by Tyler Loveall)

As a council member of the City of Maricopa for 10 years, I have had the opportunity to work with and observe a number of men and women who also served on council. They brought different attitudes, personalities and philosophies.

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt said “We need enthusiasm, imagination, and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely.”

There are two men running for council who possess these qualities, one is Henry Wade, a current colleague, who has met the test of leadership and resoluteness. The other is Rich Vitiello, whose passion and enthusiasm, coupled with having 28 years of business experience brings an asset to this council. When I speak with Rich, I am mindful of that old saying by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “what are you doing for others?”

Rich indeed believes in helping others.


Marvin L. Brown is a member of Maricopa City Council and former vice mayor.

Gary Miller

By Gary Miller

Through our common ground to help shape our city into an excellent community, I have had opportunities over the last four years to work with Bob on the Board of Adjustment, Planning & Zoning Commission and other community development matters. I will vote for Bob Marsh to serve on City Council because of his knowledge, experience, and passion, for Maricopa. I do believe that experience is more than just being familiar with a job, or a willingness to serve the public, or even knowing what to expect in elective office. Experience is what I consider first when voting for a candidate.

Bob’s experience reflects a lot of hard work and dedication to the local community development process. His Maricopa experience to name a few includes membership on the Board of Adjustment, Planning & Zoning Commission, Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium, Zoning Code Rewrite Task Force, 2040 Vision, and is a graduate of the Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy. Through our interactions, I learn that he is a semi-retired engineer with an engineering degree from MIT that utilizes a common-sense approach to solving problems. And he’s lived and worked in Arizona more than 25 years – he knows the territory and its challenges. He’s hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon 32 times! And back out!

Fresh out of college, he designed and built a computer hardware system for NASA that helped in the success of the Apollo moon landing missions. He led a major software development project at Honeywell/Phoenix that got oil flowing in the Alaska Pipeline during a national gasoline shortage crisis. And he was part of the development team in Tempe that developed McDonald’s first ever point of sale system. (Before that McD’s counter staff worldwide had to add up orders on paper with pencils.)

He also has decades of solution-focused experience in Community Development, building, integrating, and innovating Microsoft’s frameworks to better develop Microsoft’s global community of independent business partners – people like Data Doctors here in Maricopa.

His wife Cynthia is a retired RN, family counselor, and Phoenix radio talk show host, and I witness they both support each other’s work that’s devoted to build and to help improve the quality of life for Maricopa, for their subdivision, for seniors, and for the surrounding communities.

His website (https://maricopavotebob.com) does a good job of highlighting his priorities for community development that includes an approach how to meet the need to improve Senior Services, Health Services, Transportation, Employment, Flood Control & Prevention, and Housing within Maricopa. For example, a cost-effective way to improve senior services is by working with the Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium, Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee, and county/state/federal agencies by developing a way for senior services and community services to land in Maricopa by using the existing infrastructure in place.

I believe Bob’s leadership has made a positive impact on people’s lives here in Maricopa. He truly embraces what good leadership and hard work is about, which is why I recommend that you will vote for Bob Marsh for City Council. Vote for Bob!


Gary Miller, Ph.D., is a resident of Maricopa who serves on the Board of Adjustment and the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board.

 

By Barry R. Goldman

A few weeks ago, my wife and I had the honor of hosting a get-together for Maricopa City Council candidate Rich Vitiello and his supporters at our house.

It was great to see Mayor Christian Price as well as Councilmembers Marvin Brown, Henry Wade and their spouses in attendance. It is nice to see that Rich has such support, not only from these people but our neighbors, friends and family. Rich is the only City Council candidate who has garnered the endorsement of both our firefighters and police officers – he’s earned it, and it is well deserved.

Rich is also endorsed by former Mayor Kelly Anderson, former Vice Mayor Edward Farrell, State Sen. Steve Smith, City Council Member Marvin Brown, and local business owners, as well, including Helen’s Kitchen, Brooklyn Boys, Tommy’s Auto, Headquarters Restaurant, Hunter Pest Control, Southwest Pediatrics, NuSense Pest Control and Dr. John Donohue at A-1 Health & Wellness.

I know that Rich is eagerly looking forward to working with our City Council and staff to attract more businesses, secure more jobs and do good things for our city. He’s got the talent, drive and passion that Maricopa needs. Let him put that to work for all of us.

Please join me in supporting Rich Vitiello for City Council when you receive your primary ballot. He’s got my vote, and I hope he has yours.


Barry R. Goldman is an area process server who has been involved in Maricopa campaigns.

 

By Julia Gusse

Julia Gusse (submitted photo)

What’s in an endorsement?

When I first ran for City Council in 2010, I was up against two incumbents and five newcomers. I (along with two other candidates) received the endorsement from COMPA (City of Maricopa Police Association) and I truly credit them for my win. Without their endorsement and their boots on the ground going door-to-door distributing information, I don’t think I would have won.

I had unseated an incumbent, and two years later in 2012 a newcomer by the name of Christian Price ran against an incumbent councilmember for the vacated mayor seat. I was the only seated councilmember to endorse him and go door-to-door campaigning to “Elect Mayor Price.” The mayor was sworn in along with two newcomers, Leon Potter and Bridger Kimball. I had appointed all of these newly elected to a committee prior to them being elected (Potter to Parks, Recreation and Libraries, Kimball to Planning & Zoning and Price to Board of Adjustments).

That same year, Peggy Chapados was appointed (I was the vote that broke the 3-3 tie) to a vacated seat. Four newcomers (the majority) with fresh ideas helped us launch a new City Hall and Copper Sky. I chose to run for a different elected position in 2014, lost that election and had been out of office until 2016 when I ran once again for City Council.

In 2016 I was advised by my campaign manager to seek the endorsement of Mayor Price and against my intuition, I did seek that endorsement and was declined. I went on to win that election with no endorsements and I also did not accept any campaign contributions/funds. I didn’t want to be indebted to anyone and I won big with Maricopa’s endorsement – the most votes (6,826) of any elected councilmember in Maricopa’s history; more than Mayor Price, who ran unopposed, and over 2,000 votes more than the incumbent councilmember.

I am a bit shocked and surprised by the Mayor’s endorsements, but in my case, his endorsement (or lack thereof) did not make any difference.

I believe that in order to move the city forward we must elect newcomers with fresh ideas; there are five new comers in the City Council race. I ask those 6,826 voters that they consider casting their vote to elect Linette Caroselli. Not only because she has my endorsement but because she is an untainted newcomer that will lead our city in a transparent straight-forward manner. Please do your research, don’t be misled and vote for those that will have YOUR best interest in mind.


Julia Gusse is a member of the Maricopa City Council.

 

Christian Price. Photo by Mason Callejas

By Christian Price

I have known Vincent Manfredi and Henry Wade for almost a decade and proudly served with both on city council since 2014. Councilmen Manfredi’s and Wade’s tireless work and dedication to the people of Maricopa is beyond measure.

Potholes aren’t Republican or Democrat. Councilmembers must be willing to work together to achieve the city’s goals, and Vince’s and Henry’s focus is always on the betterment of our community and all its citizens.

Councilmembers Vincent Manfredi and Henry Wade are tremendous assets to our city council and community. I’m going to proudly vote for them on Aug. 28 and encourage the rest of Maricopa to do the same.


Christian Price is the mayor of Maricopa.


Note: Vincent Manfredi is minority owner of InMaricopa.

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Vice Mayor Peg Chapados

By Peg Chapados

I am writing this in support of Councilmember Henry Wade and ask that you vote for him to remain on Maricopa City Council.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Wade since 2008 when we met as attendees of the first Maricopa Citizens Leadership Academy. I have worked with him on multiple projects and programs and have served with him since 2014 on City Council.

Currently, Henry and I serve as Council liaisons to the Planning & Zoning Commission and Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee. I have also had the privilege of attending and/or working with him on his innovative Councilmember on the Corner quarterly presentations, along with numerous other community events.

I have come to know and appreciate Henry’s passion and commitment to Maricopa. Whatever the program or activity, Henry and his family are there, serving as examples of involved, caring residents. Henry’s interests are broad and serve as a great complement to those of the entire Council. He is someone who loves Maricopa, and it shows.

Henry’s dedication is evident in how he approaches, researches and deliberates the myriad issues brought before City Council. He is passionate about youth, veterans, education, culture and heritage. His perspective embraces diversity and his focus and decisions strive to always reflect what is in the best interests of Maricopa.

We have 7 candidates for Maricopa City Council and one write-in candidate. While each brings talents and experiences to the table, there are only three available seats. The choice of who will serve is in your hands.

I urge you to attend the upcoming candidate forums. Learn as much as you can about each candidate. Reach out to all of them and ask not only what they stand for but what they will do to keep Maricopa moving forward. Find out first-hand the level of commitment each is prepared to make. Be certain they understand the job they are campaigning for. By giving them your vote, you are giving them your voice.

I can say without reservation that Henry Wade is a great City Council member. He understands the role of councilmember and he works hard at it. As a retired U.S. Air Force veteran, Henry is “front and center” whenever and wherever needed because he chooses to be. He has a loving and supportive family who are often right there with him. He knows that serving often means sacrificing, because if you’re at a meeting or an event, you’re not home having dinner with family. That’s a choice Henry makes time and time again. He is an excellent example of “service before self,” and I am proud to call him my friend and colleague.

When it comes to experience, commitment and knowledge, Henry Wade is a proven community leader and councilmember.  I ask you to join me and vote for Henry Wade for City Council. Thank you.


Peg Chapados is vice mayor of Maricopa.

Henry Wade

By Henry Wade

As we get closer to the Aug. 28 primary election, it is becoming abundantly clear that this will be one of Maricopa’s most important elections. The current council has wrestled with some critical issues during the last four years, and changing the lion’s share of the team in the middle of the game would not bode well for actions already underway.

Mayor Price makes it a habit of recognizing and stating that building relationships is the key to progress whether it be economic or social. Well, nothing could be more significant in the current election cycle. The relationships established by the existing council must not be discounted in an effort to make self-interest points of view seem more relevant.

Issues such as the North Santa Cruz Wash flood zone area, State Route 347 improvements and capturing new economic development opportunities, such as a Cooper Sky commercial center, did not come to pass last week and inasmuch as we would want them to, will not be completed next week.

I recognize and submit that there are some very talented and dedicated community members willing to take on the challenge of serving Maricopa with honorable intentions.  However, what Maricopa needs right now is stability and stick-to-it-ness. Even if change is a natural part of life, it must be tempered with reality and honest, open-mindedness, especially when the change could influence your future in negative ways.

Therefore, Maricopa, study the tealeaves, connect with your horoscope or discuss it amongst yourselves but whatever you do, what is most important right now is that we all do our homework. Because, this could be one of the most important elections Maricopa has had in our 15 years of being a city.

Henry Wade is a Maricopa City Councilmember and a candidate for re-election.

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Leon Potter

Dear Editor:

I want to reintroduce myself to the voters of the City of Maricopa. My name is Leon Potter. I am a write-in candidate for city council member.  I moved to Maricopa with my wife and three children in April 2005. Soon after, I volunteered as a youth soccer coach in the Maricopa Parks and Recreation soccer program.

In 2010, I threw my hat into the ring as a mayoral candidate. While it wasn’t a successful bid, I learned a valuable lesson.  I needed to understand more about our City and its residents by being more involved.

After the 2010 elections, I was appointed to the Parks, Recreation, Library Advisory Committee. I volunteered and joined local non-profits. Incidentally; I also started my own, home-based business. I still operate my business today.

In 2012, I tried my hand in local politics, again. This time I was elected as a city council member. Since I left office in 2014, I have continued to be active in our community. In 2017, I was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission, elected to my HOA board, elected as a board member to the American Legion Post 133, and I volunteered on the Maricopa Veteran’s Day Parade committee.

Since my first political campaign in 2010, I have never used campaign signs. In fact, I’ve never accepted campaign contributions. Instead, since 2012, I’ve encouraged (potential) campaign donors to give to their favorite local charities. Thank you for considering me as a Maricopa City Council member.

Respectfully,

Leon Potter

Rich Vitiello. (Submitted photo)

By Rich Vitiello

Hello, Maricopa. I’m Rich Vitiello and in the running to be your next city council member. You may have seen me standing on the side of the 347 in the morning rush waving you a good day. It’s important that people get to see the face behind the name.

My wife and I have made Maricopa our home since moving here almost 13 years ago from back east. We’ve raised four daughters and have eight grandchildren, four of whom attend our local schools. We love this city.

I’m running for city council because I love this city and the people in this community. Maricopa continues to experience growth and with growth opportunities arise. I contribute to maintain the quality of values that this city instills by volunteering with the police, food bank and women’s shelter, as well as having coached the girls’ JV softball team in 2014-2015 school year. I also organized several fund raisers for Maricopa residents in hardship.

I sat on the city’s Board of Adjustments, appointed by council member Henry Wade. I’ve met and gotten to know all our city council members and the mayor. With 27 years of international business experience, I learned the key to solving issues is to listen to people. The same also applies in government.

That’s why you’ll see me standing on the 347 waving you a good morning. I want you to get to know me. Please say “Hi” when you see me in the grocery store or somewhere here in town, or feel free to call me on my cell phone at 480-358-8051 any time.

I’ve gotten to know many Maricopa residents by being open, honest and listening and learning. Ask questions. Get to know me. Your needs are important. My desire to be on the city council is to give a voice to your concerns.

I’ve worked hard for my family. Let me work hard for you. Let me be your voice on city council.

Rich Vitiello is a Maricopa resident.

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By John Anderson

I am writing to you with a grave concern for our veterans here in Maricopa. There is a company called Alliance Fiduciary, out of Phoenix, that has been allegedly scamming money off one of our local Korean War vets.

My concern is that there may be more veterans in our town dealing with this company being taken advantage of in the same fashion. Bills not being paid, collection letters coming to the veteran in the veteran’s name, not sending the veteran their funds until the middle of the month are just a few examples of what is happening to this one veteran.

I am asking if there are ANY veterans in Maricopa dealing with this company and having issues, that they contact me at 480-434-7377. If you get my answering machine please leave me a message and I will get back with you as soon as I can.


John Anderson is the service officer for American Legion Post 133 in Maricopa.

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Dear Editor,

Leon Potter

I am an owner of a local business home based in the City of Maricopa. My business is a member of the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce. Today, via press release, I found out that the Chamber made decisions at an unscheduled, previously unannounced special meeting. While this may have changed, the Bylaws used to state that a special meeting of the Board of Directors had to be announced seven (7) days prior to the meeting. As a member, I am troubled to find out about the meeting through a press release after the fact.

The second point of concern was a statement in the press release that the Board is seeking (potential) directors from specific industries, as determined by the Board, to fill NOT YET created positions. While I can understand the Board of Directors seeking assistance in navigating through these challenging times, I think a better way is to create committees with Chamber members with the expertise the Board seeks. Those members willing to apply will have a desire for the Chamber to meet its goals.

Two important benefits of being a Chamber member are running as a candidate and voting for candidates to represent the membership. I believe potential candidates should come from an open field of Chamber members (from any industry) that choose to run for the board; not decided solely by the seven (7) members of the Chamber that happen to sit on the Board right now.

Respectfully,
Leon Potter

 

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Henry Wade

By Henry Wade

Hello Maricopa family, it has been some time since I penned a letter to the editor, primarily because there are times when my message is misconstrued or taken out of context. However, on this subject, I want to make myself perfectly clear. We do not need our children put in danger on a daily basis on their rides to and from school.

On this issue, there is absolutely no room for error. Why would we even think about exposing our most precious assets to faulty vehicles or drivers under the influence of anything? I am sure that no parent, in my case grandparent, sends their child off to school saying I hope your bus is OK or maybe, you are finally big enough to get that seat this time.

So, let me be direct. If by the investigation, which I am very hopeful is already underway, it is discovered that our school transportation system is inferior at best and dangerous at the worst, I am prayerful that there will be an immediate move toward fixing the problem. If not, I want to stand in line with the parents asking WHY NOT! Additionally, if drivers, mechanics and support personnel are complaining and/or pointing out the fact that we have problems then DANG IT, FIX IT and fix it now!

Thank you for taking the time to read my Maricopa vent.

Henry Wade is a Maricopa City Councilmember.

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Sen. Steve Smith

By State Sen. Steve Smith

With Arizona’s 2018-2019 state budget now signed by the Governor, I wanted to clearly explain how the 20-percent teacher pay raise was determined, how it will be provided to schools, who will be receiving raises and how much should educators expect – as there has been a great deal of misinformation about how this actually works.

First and foremost, the question that is often asked is “What is the definition of a teacher?” Who will be receiving these raises?

To answer that question, the Legislature does not define who a teacher is; each local school district governing board makes that determination. We simply used what each district reports to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) for “Year End Teacher Full Time Equivalents (FTE)” to help us determine how much money would be needed to generate a 20-percent raise by 2020. How we provided the funding maintains Arizona’s long-standing emphasis on local control by allowing local districts flexibility in determining who will receive raises.

So how does the 20-percent pay raise work?

Arizona’s Auditor General (the independent source of impartial information concerning state and local government agencies) recently reported the statewide average district teacher salary is $48,372. That is an independent, non-partisan number, and while some district teachers earn more and others less, that is the true average salary of district teachers in Arizona.

To determine the 20 percent by 2020 teacher pay raise, we started by determining the amount needed for a 1-percent teacher pay raise based on the actual reported cost of the 1-percent raise we passed last year. Since we typically experience inflation each year and expect to have more teachers in Arizona classrooms each of the next three years, a 1-percent raise in 2020 would be a bit higher and cost more than a 1-percent raise this year. To make sure we provided enough funding for this growth, we took the average over the next three fiscal years, added in funding for employment-related expenses like health and dental benefits, and determined the amount necessary for a 1-percent teacher pay increase to be $32.25 million.

Since we promised a 20-percent raise by 2020, we multiplied that 1-percent by 20, resulting in $645 million. The plan spreads the pay increase over three fiscal years (10 percent up front this year, 5 percent in 2019 and 5 percent in 2020), resulting in $305 million this year, $470 million added on top of that the next year, and then up to the total $645 million in 2020.

That means over the next three fiscal years we will cumulatively be providing $1.42 billion in new state funding for teacher salary increases. In other words, this funding provides the amount necessary to bring the statewide average of district teacher salaries up to $58,046 by 2020, or $9,674 above the 2017 level of $48,372 – a 20-percent raise by 2020 just as promised.

Furthermore, since the calculations for the 20-percent raise by 2020 are based on the statewide average, the funding provided for teacher pay raises through the state budget will actually provide the largest percentage increase to those teachers who earn a salary below the statewide average and are in need of a pay raise the most.

Some have falsely claimed this funding package is not a permanent pay raise and the money could be reduced in future years. This is completely untrue. The new money for teacher pay included in the state budget was included in the statutory “Base Level” amount of our state K-12 funding formula. Thanks to Proposition 301, the Base Level amount is inflated each year and cannot be reduced by a future legislature, only by a vote of the people. That is why we specifically allocated the new teacher pay raise dollars through this voter-protected portion of the formula – to guarantee our teachers that this money is permanent, ongoing and inflated.

So, who will be receiving these new dollars? The state Legislature does not attach red tape to our K-12 funding. Local school districts determine how general K-12 formula dollars are spent. The same goes for the new $1.42 billion districts will receive over the next three years for teacher pay raises. Schools will receive their portion of the new funding based on their weighted student count, and each local district will be responsible for determining how to allocate the pay raises to teachers.

So, if a teacher does not receive their portion of the money appropriated for teacher pay raises this year, that would be due to a decision by their local district board, not the state legislature. To make sure districts are held accountable, we included strong intent language directing the $1.42 billion to be used for teacher pay increases, and required schools to post their average teacher salaries, and the amount of year-over-year increases on their websites. Therefore, be sure your voices are heard in your local districts to ensure teachers receive the pay increases they deserve.

Finally, some will contend that while the 20-percent raise is great for teachers, schools have other needs like building repairs, upgraded school buses, raises for non-teacher employees, etc. We agree. So, in addition to all new funding for teacher pay raises, we also allocated $503.4 million cumulatively by 2020 ($100 million this year, $167.8M in 2019 and $235.6 million in 2020) in additional assistance funding that schools may spend to address these needs. That means new monies provided to our schools for teacher pay raises and additional assistance will total over $2 billion by 2020.

That just covers the major new spending provided in this newly passed state budget. Schools will continue to receive base annual inflation funding, Proposition 123 monies, local bond and override dollars and capital funding provided through the School Facilities Board.

These are the legitimate facts regarding K-12 funding in the budget just passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Gov. Ducey. It dedicates 48 percent of the entire state general fund budget to K-12 education, clearly signifying that our students, teachers and schools are the most important asset in the state.

If you have any further questions about the budget, please contact me directly at 602-926-5685 or at stsmith@asleg.gov.

State Sen. Steve Smith is a resident of Maricopa.

Merry Grace

By Merry Grace

Over the school year there have been several ongoing issues with MUSD buses like overcrowding and route delays. Recent articles have shed light on safety issues with buses in our district. I wrote an op-ed in November questioning what is going on to lead to a shortage of drivers and why there is a revolving door.

I had several drivers, both present and former, speak to me off the record saying they have been told they cannot speak up about issues in the department. How do we as parents know what the problems are if the problems are to be kept in-house? More important, how do we know steps are being taken toward solutions? How do we know that the problems are being brought up to the school board and not just kept hidden within the department?

I live in a subdivision that has had a huge growth with new homes being built and families moving in. This is happening all over our ever-growing city, which leads to an increase in students and bus riders. With the new school year approaching, we need to take a look at the transportation department to ensure all problems are being resolved.

It is time for parents to stand up and speak out to advocate for change. The bottom line is the safety of our students, and I know first-hand our board has made student safety a priority. Do we have enough buses, in excellent working road trip status, to fulfill the need of our increasing student population? Have routes been examined to ensure maximum coverage within all neighborhoods? Do we have enough qualified mechanics to prevent buses sitting on the lot broken down? Do we have enough qualified drivers, and what type of screening is being done upon hiring as well as periodically? Does the department have a good system in place to flow effectively?

At the end of the day, we should not be having the same problems year after year. Change is upon us, and it is time for parents to advocate for the department that seems to have been overlooked and is in need of many improvements. I have witnessed our board step in and take control of situations and make changes to ensure our district continues to move forward. It is time for parents to feel secure in putting their child on MUSD buses and know that they will be safe and on time.

Let’s start the new year off on the right foot and ensure our transportation is the best.

 

Merry Grace is a parent of students in Maricopa Unified School District.