Tags Articles tagged with "letter to the editor"

letter to the editor

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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.


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.

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.


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Roger Wagner

By Roger Wagner II

Representative Finchem, Representative Leach, and Senator Smith,

Thank you for representing Maricopa’s local education agencies in the 53rd Legislature. We appreciate the work you have done to improve education funding for your constituents and our stakeholders. Our staff will appreciate the greatly needed raises as we try to appropriately pay our staff and close the $3,000 gap between us and the state average salary. Our students can definitely use the support of the new funding that will fill some of the holes operating at $2,300 per student less than the state average makes.

We see the attempts at progress, we thank you for them, and we will ensure that these funds are used judiciously and with transparency. Our community will be incredibly appreciative of the continued investment in education. They have seen our classrooms that are 10.4 percent more full than the state average, so they continue to invest their time and resources into us.

We have an open invitation to come to your workplace. And believe us, Maricopa did. Around half of the instructional staff of MUSD, along with our colleagues from Leading Edge Academy, Legacy Traditional Schools and Sequoia Pathway, stepped foot on the Lawn. Every single minute of every single committee had a Maricopa educator present or watching. We were even privileged enough to have some of our own speak or meet with Legislators. This most certainly constitutes the largest engagement of educators in Maricopa, in the history of Arizona, and, by some measures, the United States. We are a proud people and we now have a unity that did not exist before.

In the spirit of committed educators, we assessed and we have some feedback we would like to share. This is our Preposition Proposition.

We have learned that some of the most important words in education are the smallest ones. Those words are to, for and with. Each word deals with intent and purpose. Each is unique and can help determine a path forward or provide understanding.

ToTo is a unidirectional word. When you do something to someone, your purpose or intent is solely your own. To is a one-way street. To is what happens without consent. To is solitary, but might impact others.

For – For is also a unidirectional word, but for pretends a little bit. For is to wearing a mask. For is to where sometimes the other direction is considered and sometimes it isn’t. Think of a two-way street, isn’t it really just two one-way streets until someone needs to cross? Or worse, until someone gets out of their lane?

WithWith is not a unidirectional word. With is what it is like driving in a roundabout. Everybody enters, flows together, and exits when they need to. Preference doesn’t matter in with and direction changes are made with an understanding that they may impact others.

Throughout this week, especially last night and early this morning, we saw Legislators turn around during sessions to say to us, “We heard you and we worked with you to get this.” Some of them added, “It is something, but it is not enough.” While others said, “We are content here.” These Representatives and Senators met with us, talked with us and developed plans with us. We stood with them, regardless of their affiliation.

Then, as if a switch was flipped on Wednesday night, we started to hear things during roll call votes like “We made changes for you,” giving chunks of funds with no designation is “For your best interest.” And the one that really stung, “You should be thanking us. We did this for you.” These Representatives and Senators often did not meet with us, talk with us, or develop plans with us. We turned our backs to them, regardless of their affiliation.

We felt it necessary to solidify our stance regarding politics in response to Sen. Smith’s commentary on partisanship amongst educators. Maricopa #REDforED/Maricopa Arizona Educators United is a non-partisan group. It was formed with that intent, developed initiatives with that intent, and will move forward with the purpose of advocating for education in Maricopa. Our constituency includes all education workers, community members and stakeholders who would like to be involved.

With all of this being said, we would like to extend an open invitation to our classrooms. Come see us work with students. Come see our spaces, places and faces. We look forward to it.

Roger Wagner II is a music instructor at Maricopa Unified School Distirct and a member of Maricopa #REDforED/Maricopa Arizona Educators United.


Jackie Gonzalez

By Jackie Gonzalez

We have all heard about the failing education systems across the country. Most recently this has taken the form of strikes occurring in Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Teachers who are fed up with low wages, lengthening hours, and increasing costs walked out as one to make their message clear: Higher Pay, More Education Funding. This frustration has been boiling over for years and the tinderbox has been lit.

Teachers in KY, OK and WV crafted messages, gained support, and marched to their respective capitals. In the process they called in sick and walked out for a higher calling. This resonated across the country, with renewed calls by other states for more funding for Education. Due to the limited funds, teachers often have to pay for items for their classrooms out of their own pocket. Some even work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Median pay for Arizona elementary teachers in 2016 was $42,474 per year, compared with $55,800 nationally. In 2014, Arizona ranked 48th in average per-pupil spending at $7,457, compared with $11,066 nationally. What has been talked about at the Capitol is a 1-2 percent raise, paltry when compared to what could be done.

All of that being said, I was dismayed when I found out that Arizona’s plan rolled out to the teachers was a “Walk-In.” This is an event that’s taking place on Wednesday, April 11, before school. Parents are invited to come to schools (including those in Maricopa Unified School District) at 6 a.m. to walk together for the cause, wearing red. This is a sham activity. Don’t get me wrong, there needs to be more focus on education; from better conditions to higher pay to more overall help. This will lead to lower class sizes, lower turnover, and a better student experience. But this activity may not get many parents to come into the schools (most may be at work by the time this happens), let alone cause actual change. We need to plan stronger activities to really hit the point home that we are serious as the other states.

Gov. Doug Ducey and the state Legislature have made it clear that they don’t seriously care about Arizona teachers. This planned walk-in is an effort for the Governor and Lawmakers to appear like they support education, without actually sacrificing anything to get it done.

Jackie Gonzalez is a resident of Maricopa.

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By George A. Hoffman

My fellow friends and citizens of Maricopa,

I recently endorsed Glen Morrison for Constable. That was before any other Republican had entered the race. I think it is only fair to hold off any endorsement, until I have spoken with Mr Bill Griffin, the other candidate. Forgive my rush to judgement.

It is therefore I am revoking my endorsement of Glen Morrison.

George A. Hoffman is a retired constable.

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Sen. Steve Smith

By Sen. Steve Smith

Now that the 2018 Legislative Session has begun, as I do each year I want to provide you ways on how to be involved with what is happening at the Capitol.

First though, let me start by saying what an honor it is to continue to serve our District in the Senate, I am truly humbled and honored and will continue to work as hard as I can for “We the People.”

That being said, I often would hear from constituents that they did not know what or when legislation was being considered, so when I was first elected I started a weekly newsletter that details every Senate committee meeting along with what bills are scheduled to be heard in those committees that particular week.

This newsletter of course allows you to be plugged in to what is happening so that you will be able to comment, come to the Capitol to speak, or be involved any way to allow your voice to be heard on your support or opposition of legislation BEFORE it has been considered or voted on.

Far too often I would hear from constituents that had they known a certain bill was being considered they would have weighed in on it, so this has been a way to do just that and allow more participation in the legislative process.  If you would like to receive these updates, simply call my office at 602-926-5685 or email me at stsmith@azleg.gov and request to be added.

Additionally, please contact me to share any ideas you may have for future legislation (many of my bills that that the Governor signed last year were constituent driven) so I can’t tell you how vital your feedback is.  You don’t need to be a lobbyist or an ‘insider’, you can simply contact me directly.

Finally, if you or a group/organization would ever like to spend time at the Capitol for a tour or to watch the process, contact me and I would be happy to arrange it.

Remember, you’re my boss, I work for you, so please take advantage of these opportunities to get involved to help make continue to make Arizona great.

God bless!

Steve Smith, a Republican, is the Arizona state senator representing District 11 and a resident of Maricopa.

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By Gabriela Potter

The American Legion Auxiliary of Maricopa thanks all participants and community for supporting the first Veterans Day Parade .

Special thanks to  the Parade Committee,  City of Maricopa, Ak-Chin community, MUSD, Tortosa HOA, Leading Edge Academy and CAC.  We also thank  all sponsors  and performers that made possible the luncheon and great program.

For God and Country,

Gabriela Potter is president of the American Legion Auxiliary of Maricopa.

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Merry Grace

By Merry Grace

It has been brought to light that MUSD has been having ongoing transportation issues, and it is my belief that we parents need to step up and start asking more questions.  We are being told this is a result of a bus driver shortage.

We need to be asking, “Why is there a shortage?” Do these drivers that we trust to transport our children safely back and forth from/to school not have a voice and need some advocating? As the daughter of a retired public school custodian and retired public school cafeteria pastry chef, this concerns me that more parents are not asking why!

What can we do for these drivers? Why is there a shortage? Have there been unfilled opened positions since the beginning of the year, or is there a revolving door with drivers always quitting?  If they are quitting – why are they quitting?

I know in our subdivision alone we have a lot of new homes going up, which means an increase in families moving in and an increase in enrollment. We now often see more students waiting at the bus stop as more families take residency in their new homes. Does the increase in riders mean there is a bus shortage?  Will we have extra buses if needed to support this increase?

Why aren’t we hearing from the actual drivers to hear their story?

I hope to hear from drivers and the transportation department at the next few call to public times at the upcoming school board meetings.  To only hear from the board that there is a shortage is not enough info.  Parents who depend on the buses to safely transport their children need to be asking more questions.  Drivers need to be able to speak up and have their voices heard so we can all work together to ensure their very important jobs are not only well compensated but they are shown their value to this community.

Merry Grace is a resident of Maricopa and mother of students in Maricopa Unified School District.

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Mike Goodman

By Mike Goodman

For some time now, myself and other supporters of Propositions 416 and 417 have said new roads and freeways will improve public safety by providing alternate routes for our citizens, and first responders in emergencies. That point became very personal for me this week.

I am thrilled to announce that as of Wednesday, Oct. 18, we have a new granddaughter. However, along with our excitement, we experienced some tense moments that day, as the lack of new roads and freeways delayed my daughter getting to the hospital.

Following the collisions of two semis and a dump truck on Ironwood, my pregnant daughter and her husband were stuck in traffic trying to get to the hospital. She was already a week past her due date, and hospital rooms were in short supply. They finally received notice space became available and she needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible, where a doctor was going to induce labor and deliver the baby.

While they were not injured in the accident, the traffic jam that followed kept them stuck in traffic for an hour and a half. I am thankful there was no imminent, life-threatening emergency, but it was still very troubling my pregnant daughter was stuck in traffic for such a long time, just before the delivery of her baby. Thankfully, once they finally arrived at the hospital, a room was still available and the baby was safely delivered.

Yes votes on Propositions 416 and 417 will bring a series of new roads and freeways to Pinal County, including a new North/South Freeway from the U.S. 60 to south of Coolidge, and a connection to Interstate 10. This freeway would have created an alternate route for my daughter and countless others who were stuck in traffic.

These propositions have been in the works for two years now, and since coming into office in January of this year, I have worked to promote propositions 416 and 417. Public safety has always been a key reason as to why I support this development. Passage of Props 416 and 417 will give Pinal County the new roads and freeways it needs so that others can avoid experiences similar to what my family recently faced. These roads will also attract businesses and the development our growing community needs.

Props 416 and 417 are endorsed by the Pinal County Sheriff, the County Attorney, every member of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, nearly every mayor in Pinal County, and countless others who care about the quality of life and the safety of the people of Pinal County.

Learn more at www.yeson416and417.com.

Mike Goodman is a Pinal County supervisor. He lives in San Tan Valley.

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By Joyce Boyd

Due to the deadly accident yesterday (Oct. 18), again 347 was shut down. I live in Maricopa city, and this is the third 347 shutdown I have experienced (trying to get home.) My question is: When 347 is shut down due to deadly accidents, why aren’t policemen or traffic control people dispatched to the high-traffic diverted areas?

We waited two hours on Casa Blanca Road trying to get on 347. The reason it was a two or more hours wait time…. the signal light at 347 and Casa Blanca Road. If a traffic control person was there to direct traffic or change the timing on the signal light it would have eliminated at least half of the traffic.

While sitting in line on Casa Blanca Road, I thought about the parents trying to get to their kids in preschool and day care. How frightening.

My prayers goes out for the families whose love ones involved in the accident.

Joyce Boyd is a resident of Maricopa.

Peg Chapados

By Peg Chapados

My fellow Maricopans, it’s time to make a critical decision for our city and county. The Nov. 7, all mail-in election asks for your vote on Prop 416 and Prop 417. These two items are of vital importance to our future, but there is a lot of misinformation and narrowly-focused misperceptions about what these items will do for Maricopa. I want to share some facts with you so that you can cast an informed vote.

FACT: State Route 347 and East-West Corridor improvements are included in Phase 1 of the “164 new Parkway lane miles throughout Pinal County” (publicity pamphlet, pg. 7) even though they are not specifically listed by name on the ballot.

FACT: The Maricopa Area Transportation Plan concluded that if improvements to SR347 are not made, the Level of Service rating by 2028 will be “F” – roadway failure. Now is the time to begin the improvement process.

FACT: This is a county sales (excise) tax, not a property tax. The proposed tax is ½ cent for 20 years.

FACT: The average cost per household is estimated at $88, or about $7.34 per month. It is not just Pinal County residents, but anyone who purchases taxable items within Pinal County.

FACT: There are multiple projects, with two in the first of three phases designated for Maricopa. One is options to improve flow and alleviate traffic congestion on SR347. The other is a proposed East-West corridor improvement, which offers an alternative route to Interstate 10. There is also additional funding to support our local transit system.

FACT: The two Maricopa projects are estimated at around $100 million. Relying on current funding capacities or federal and state assistance won’t get the job done.

FACT: Without funding provided through the tax, Pinal County cities and towns have zero leverage ability to request transportation improvements. ADOT and others have made it clear that without local contributions, infrastructure projects will need to “take a number and get in line.” The line is already long and the number (wait time) is over 800 years.

FACT: Growth is inevitable, bringing more traffic, congestion, demand for services and the need for expanded infrastructure. State and federal governments have not been responsive in allocating adequate funds for critical transportation projects. It’s up to Pinal County stakeholders to identify a viable plan and funding mechanism, namely Props 416 and 417.

FACT: Both items must be approved for projects to be executed. Prop 416 asks for approval of the Pinal County Regional Transportation Plan, or RTP. Prop 417 asks for approval of the tax element (1/2 cent for 20 years). Both items need a “YES” vote to pass.

FACT: Maricopa faces multiple challenges, yet we continue to grow. Our need to expand and improve our transit system has a direct correlation and impact on our economic development and growth. To attract business, retail, employment opportunities, create jobs, expand our housing options beyond single family residences and provide public safety services, we need to find solutions for transportation and transit needs. These issues are inter-connected, and without viable funding, our options for continued development and sustainability only increase obstacles rather than opportunities. The question is, can obstacles be overcome, by who and at what cost?

As a taxpayer, councilmember and passionate Maricopa advocate, I urge you to get the answers needed or additional information to cast an informed vote. As a resident and neighbor, I ask you to join me and VOTE YES on Props 416 & 417. Thank you.

Suggested resources: http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/PublicWorks/TransportationPlanning/Pages/PRTA.aspx
Pinal Regional Transportation Plan – Approved June 2017 pamphlet; Publicity Pamphlet and Sample Ballot Special Election November 7, 2017

Peg Chapados is a member of Maricopa City Council.

Alan Marchione

By Alan Marchione 

A recent article by Jennifer Stielow, Vice-President of the Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA,) addresses the sneaky and legally unsound language provided in 416/417. Pinal County pursued legislation this year under HB2156, which would have allowed a half-cent county transportation sales tax to be levied “at different rates among the various sales tax classifications instead of one fixed rate…” This was intended to exempt certain types of businesses from the tax, thus preventing local business opposition to the proposed tax increase (primarily auto dealers). The bill was opposed at the Legislature, due to the bad precedent that would be set by allowing county sales tax bases to differ from the state and further deviate from tax uniformity. For Pinal County to favor one business over another in regards to paying a county-wide tax, one must ask themselves…why? Here is a link to the article: https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/07/20/legality-of-pinal-county-transportation-sales-tax-carve-out-questionable

The Goldwater Institute has asked Pinal County to remove the proposition from the ballot, or face costly litigation should the measures pass. It contains misleading information, with direct conflicts within section 42-6106 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, and utilizes the language of the failed HB2156. Pinal County charged forward with the exemptions despite exceeding their lawful authority. You can view the Institute’s letter here: https://www.azfree.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Goldwater-Letter-to-Pinal-County.pdf

See through the smoke screen of pretty promises, cherry-picked statistics, and fear mongering on how it’ll improve your quality of life. Even if 416/417 were substantiated in court, the proposed additional sales tax offers little to Maricopa’s residents, and according to the information provided, there’s absolutely no guarantee the 347 would be widened. The proposed widening of the 347 towards the I-10 freeway will end at the Pinal/Maricopa County lines, with no assurance Maricopa County will complete the remaining stretch. Although the proposed widening of the 347 is seemingly alleviating, additional lanes are not the most appropriate fix. There’s a chronic issue of accidents and fatalities plaguing turn-lanes from the 347 to adjacent roads: Casa Blanca, Riggs, and the very dangerous turn at Maricopa Road to Wild Horse Pass Casino. In the unfortunate event of a fatal accident, all lanes would be shut down despite how numerous; still blocking our primary artery in and out of the city. It would be more appropriate to mitigate the inherent dangers of multiple stop-lights on a busy highway with grade separations.

There’s an incredible $640 million at stake and the sponsors are pulling out all the stops. One could perceive special interest, and Pinal County, are “railroading” us to illegally vote yes. It’s ironic those continuing to propose additional taxes, are those who most benefit from their passage. I’m asking you join me in putting a stop to Pinal County’s illegitimate sales tax increase, and prevent wasteful spending on avoidable litigation. Please look for your mail-in-ballot, as Pinal County is counting on your complacency. For more information regarding this voting session, please visit: http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/Recorder/Documents/2017NovemberElectionFAQ.pdf.

Alan Marchione is a former Maricopa City Councilmember and 11-year resident of Maricopa.

Julia Gusse

By Julia Gusse

With all the talk, opinions and debate in regards to “taking a knee” and offending or disrespecting our veterans, in my opinion this is all a faux defense of veterans. All active duty/military veterans, swore that “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” regardless of how people wish to invoke those rights.

In working with our vets, I can guarantee you that many of our former military men and women are indifferent to this debate. A veteran in crisis contemplating suicide (20 veterans commit suicide on a daily basis), the vet that is haunted by MST (Military Sexual Trauma), the vet that cannot find a job after serving his/her country, or one that is homeless and looking for his/her next place to eat/sleep; none of them are thinking about the NFL players that took a knee. I find that our veterans have bigger concerns and I ask that if you truly want to honor our veterans, get involved and show your support.

Our Maricopa American Legion Auxiliary Unit #133 has been working diligently to hold Maricopa’s first Veterans Day Parade at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. For more information visit http://alpost133az.org then click Auxiliary. We are looking for community groups to participate in the parade and volunteers. Please show our veterans your support, bring your friends, your kids and enjoy this community event.

The Maricopa American Legion Post #133 will also be holding our annual Veterans Run and pancake breakfast (Unit #133) on Nov. 4. For more information visit http://alpost133az.org then click Vet Run 2017. Funds raised from this event will benefit our local veterans.

Lastly, the City of Maricopa’s Veterans Committee will be holding a series of events addressing the issues that most affect our local veterans. Please stay involved and show your support.

Julia Gusse is an Air Force veteran, a member of American Legion Unit 133 and a member of the Maricopa City Council.

MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut. Photo by Michelle Chance

By Steve Chestnut

The Arizona State Board of Education recently developed a new A-F letter grade system for all schools. As a result, all public schools in the state were given new letter grades based mostly on the results of the 2017 AzMerit state tests. For elementary and middle schools 80 percent of the new letter grades are determined by the state tests and for high schools 50 percent of the new letter grade is determined by the state tests. The new letter grades were released to the public on Oct. 9.

The 2017 letter grades for schools in the Maricopa Unified School District are:

  • Butterfield Elementary: C
  • Maricopa Elementary: C
  • Pima Butte Elementary: B
  • Saddleback Elementary: C
  • Santa Cruz Elementary: B
  • Santa Rosa Elementary: C
  • Desert Wind Middle School: D
  • Maricopa Wells Middle School: D
  • Maricopa High School: C

We are not satisfied with these letter grades and our goal is for each school to be A rated. To help us achieve that goal we have implemented four major K-12 initiatives in 2017-18. First, as a result of override funds, we have 50 additional certified staff this year making class size lower at all schools. Lower class size allows teachers to give more individual attention to students. Second, with override funds we are able to provide additional instructional technology to students to assist them with their academic work. Third, we have implemented new K-12 math curriculum materials and teachers have received professional development training concerning how to use these materials. Finally, K-12 teachers are now using a new “benchmark testing” platform three times during the year so student progress on the state’s curriculum standards can be determined. Teachers received training in how to use the new testing system.

At the elementary schools, the middle schools, and the high school additional things are being done to improve student achievement. Students in grades K-3 are using a new phonics curriculum to build student reading skills and teachers have received professional development training in its use. At the middle school level, two additional blended learning classrooms have been added at Maricopa Wells Middle School. The high school started Ram Academy for credit deficient juniors and seniors which will help to improve the school’s graduation rate.

We know that letter grades are not the only measure of a school’s success. We are also very proud of our excellent staff, the innovative learning opportunities we provide for students, our high quality fine arts programs, our outstanding extra-curricular programs, as well as the safe learning environment we provide at each school.

To learn more about the letter grades for the Maricopa Unified School District, you are invited to attend a Parent Meeting with Superintendent Steve Chestnut on Wednesday, October 18th. You can attend the 10-11 a.m. meeting or the 7-8 p.m. meeting. Each meeting will be the same. Both meetings will be held in the MUSD Governing Board Room located at 44150 W Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Steve Chestnut is superintendent of Maricopa Unified School District.

Alan Marchione

By Alan Marchione

Dear Fellow Voters,

Surely by now, you’ve noticed the numerous signs in support of Props 416 and 417 littering our intersections. Once again, we have a local government entity, Pinal County in this case, asking us to support yet another useless tax. The political action committee backing this measure is none other than the contractors hoping to bid on the project, and profit off of your tax dollars. I’m asking you to join me in voting NO on this “tax-and-spend money grab.”

Seeking taxpayer support of a supplementary tax should not be the fix for the county and state’s ineffective management of the existing tax revenue allocated for building and/or maintaining roads. Our government continuously solicits us to finance every one of its dazzling programs. The reality is, they turn out to be poorly managed revenue streams with insufficient oversight, delivering little to no realized benefit to the taxpayer.

Government sustains its unquenchable appetite and sense of entitlement on what we earn. The question we should be asking our local representatives, is exactly what percentage of our hard-earned income do they feel we, the taxpayer, are entitled to keep for our own financial security? Pinal County and the PAC funding the yes effort, state “It’s just 24 cents a day.” A common gimmick used to try and sell you on why you should support a tax is the use of terms “Just” and “Only.”

On its own, “just” 24 cents per day may not seem like a very large sum, but when you add up all of the “Justs and the Onlies,” you end up with a Mt. Everest of Just and Only. The taxpayer, is left scratching their head looking at their “Kitchen Table Economics” monthly budget, wondering how to squeeze dollars out of cents. While subsidizing the needs of the federal government, state government, and local taxes, we are falling short on our ability to care for our own families, and adequately save for the future. Often forgotten, are lower income families and those on a fixed income, who are not able to easily absorb the financial burden of additional taxes as well as our local elected officials advocating it; unfortunately, this happens habitually.

While I fully support economic development and infrastructure improvements, I cannot support an additional tax that is being advertised with false promises and platitudes on how it will improve your quality of life, such as widening the 347 freeway to Chandler. Last I checked, it was called State Route 347, and not Maricopa Route 347. The current dysfunctional culture with respect to infrastructure improvements in the state, is that if you want the state to make an improvement, your community must pay part of the cost. Inherently, the financial burden is pushed to county and local governments to supplement the state’s responsibility. Further taxation on an already over-taxed community is not the answer. Between current federal, state, county, city, MUSD, CAC, utility and gas taxes, already higher utility rates, HOA dues, and every other tax and fee that can be put on us, I’d actually like to keep what money I have left, for my family.

At times, I wonder if we’re destined to tax ourselves into oblivion, and then ask ourselves how we got to this point. Nowadays, it seems we work more for the government than we do ourselves. You and your earned income are NOT the property of your government. Adding injury to insult, Pinal County is counting on your complacency, by strategically petitioning this item in an off-year election cycle, and by mail-in only ballot. For more information regarding this voting session, links to update your voter address, and local locations for ballot replacement on Nov. 7, please visit: http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/Recorder/Documents/2017NovemberElectionFAQ.pdf. Join me in voting NO, and demand your government employ critical thinking skills in finding a better solution.

Alan Marchione is an 11-year resident of Maricopa and former city councilmember.

Ed Farrell (from left), Tom Shope and Connie Van Driel are supporters of Pinal County Propositions 416 and 417.

By Connie Van Driel, Tom Shope & Edward Farrell

The Phoenix crowd is at it again. The Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute is trying to keep Pinal County residents from voting on a plan to provide new roads and freeways to communities across our county. The Institute is suing our elected leaders. And if voters say yes to Propositions 416 and 417, approving a plan to keep traffic moving in Pinal County, the Goldwater Institute is threatening to go to court to overturn the will of the people.

This Phoenix based group wants to take away your vote. And if that doesn’t work they want to take away your roads and freeways.

Not surprisingly, a dark money group from Phoenix called “The Arizona Free Enterprising Club” is touting the Goldwater Institute lawsuit in its recent messaging. The Arizona Free Enterprise Club has been questioned by the FBI for its smarmy political ways.

It’s also not surprising that the loudest voices against Propositions 416 and 417 are coming from Phoenix. These groups don’t care if our friends and neighbors are stuck in traffic. And they apparently are not concerned that traffic jams slow emergency response times for law enforcement, firefighters and ambulances. They don’t care about the economic benefits of Propositions 416 and 417.

When it comes to the huge need for new roads and freeways in Pinal County do you trust out-of-town groups with questionable agendas or the people who live, work and serve in Pinal County?

Propositions 416 and 417 have the endorsements of every mayor in Pinal County, all five of its supervisors, numerous chambers of commerce, our county sheriff and county attorney. It has support from Democrats and Republicans from all over Pinal County.

The plan for new roads and freeways has been crafted over many years with incredible input from city councils, dozens of community meetings and considerable media attention. Indeed, ballots are being mailed to every registered voter in Pinal County for the Nov. 7 election.

This transportation plan creates highways and parkways to help residents go from north to south and east to west. This infrastructure will attract job creators so more of us can live AND work in Pinal County.

We think the final say on whether Pinal County gets new roads and freeways should be with the people of Pinal County, not a handful of lobbyists and lawyers in Phoenix.

But beyond trust look at the plan for yourself. Judge it for yourself. It’s very impressive. Click here to view the plan map. We stand for the plan and for Pinal County, and hope you will too by voting yes on Propositions 416 and 417 on Nov. 7.

Connie Van Driel is a resident of Apache Junction. Tom Shope is the former mayor of Coolidge and owner of Shope’s IGA. Ed Farrell is a Maricopa resident and was the community’s first mayor.

Scott Skinner

By Scott Skinner

It’s a rare moment when average ordinary people can actually place limits on overdevelopment. Voting against Prop 416 affords just such an opportunity.

While ostensibly about new roads, 416 is really about laying the foundation for the urbanization of Pinal. It’s predicated on the idea that we all want growth, that growth is good, and that we’re all willing to subsidize it. Just so we’re clear: growth means more people, more sprawl, higher population densities, and more — not less — congestion. It’s a vision for Pinal that is the polar opposite of its rich rural character.

In other words, 416 is not about roads to make your commute easier, as it’s designed to encourage growth, stimulate development, and increase traffic. And that is why some of the largest donors to the 416 campaign initiative are in fact land developers. They’re chomping at the bit to profit from this once-and-forever-gone opportunity to transform our wild and open spaces into more urban sprawl. So, if you love city life, enjoy subsidizing new residents, enjoy subsidizing developers and large corporations, enjoy big government, and want Pinal to ultimately resemble downtown Phoenix, then by all means support 416. Let your reps know that you can’t wait until every last acre of prickly desert is paved over, along with all the chittering wildlife that lives there. But don’t delude yourself. No matter what you’re told, it’s not possible to strip-develop Pinal while at the same time preserve its rural qualities. And don’t believe any nonsense about growth being “inevitable.” If it was, then they wouldn’t be asking you to pay for it. They wouldn’t be resorting to hard sell scare tactics like, “VOTE 416/417 BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!” — pitched with all the finesse of a used car salesman (or, more likely, insiders that stand to profit considerably from its passage).

How bad do they want this? So bad that they’ve even split the mandate into two votes, so that you can approve development while seemingly avoiding any cost. Rest assured that if you accept the 416 urbanization plan, you will be paying for it, and Prop 417 is only the start. Rest assured that if these roads are built, you will be sharing them with Maricopa and Pima County drivers who won’t have to shoulder the regressive three-quarter-billion-dollar tax burden. I’m sure they’ll give you the right-of-way, and thank you for your generosity. Ultimately, this vote isn’t about roads; it’s about values. It’s about different visions for the future of Pinal. One vision endorses growth and urbanization; the other honors and respects our rustic heritage. Are places like Phoenix so bad? Certainly not. But if Pinal residents wanted to live there, then they wouldn’t have moved to Pinal. Voters who want urban life have endless options. But for those of us who don’t, the choices are dwindling fast.

Pinal’s cowboy country character is what distinguishes it from other counties. It is in fact Pinal’s greatest asset. And once it’s gone, there’s no going back. City life or country life — the choice is yours — at least until there are no more rural places left.

Scott Skinner is a Pinal County resident living in Gold Canyon.

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Ed Farrell (from left), Tom Shope and Connie Van Driel are supporters of Pinal County Propositions 416 and 417.

By Connie Van Driel, Tom Shope and Ed Farrell

When it comes to the huge need for new roads and freeways in Pinal County, who do you trust?

The endorsers of Propositions 416 and 417 that include every mayor in Pinal County, all five of its supervisors, numerous chambers of commerce, our county sheriff and county attorney, community leaders from Saddlebrooke to San Tan and even the current chairpersons of the Pinal County Republican Party and Democratic Party?

Or the most notorious dark-money organization in Arizona, based in Phoenix, known as the “Arizona Free Enterprise Club,” which has even been questioned by the FBI for its smarmy political ways?

We ask because this Phoenix special interest group that does the bidding of donors, not “free enterprise” recently wrote about keeping Pinal County down by arguing against the two measures to finally get Pinal County major traffic relief in every part of the county.

Their arguments were so false as to be comical, but we must respond because if people actually believe their nonsense it undermines one of the best chances Pinal County has ever had to improve its quality of life via new transportation infrastructure, economic development, Dial-A-Ride services and public safety assistance.

The Phoenix special interest says an auditor’s report citing a specific spending problem with past road projects in Superior and Mammoth as reason to reject new roads and freeways throughout Pinal County now. Because of one-time issues in two of Pinal County’s smaller communities we are not going to attempt to improve transportation everywhere else? This makes no sense, especially when one reads the auditor’s report in full and not cherry-picking items.

The report is otherwise approving of how Pinal County has managed road funds. Nevertheless, at the suggestion of San Tan resident and current chairman of the Pinal County Republican Party Michael Burke, a Citizen’s Oversight Committee is to be established in conjunction with Propositions 416 and 417. Representation will be made up of residents throughout Pinal County including its unincorporated areas.

Because the dark money organization is so unfamiliar with Pinal County, they also say places like San Tan won’t benefit? But support there is overwhelming because State Route 24 will be extended from the Maricopa County line many miles east to the North-South Parkway. And Gold Canyon won’t see relief either? Ignorant. The North-South Freeway, State Route 24 and boosts for Dial-A-Ride services all provide residents there and Apache Junction alternatives to the 60, north and south and east to west.

They also mention Saddlebrooke, which is getting a critical road that residents there requested to alleviate significant, existing traffic concerns. Furthermore, the developers of Saddlebrooke are one of the largest donors to the campaign in support of Propositions 416 and 417. And, of course, the specious critic didn’t mention Maricopa, Casa Grande and other communities where major problems are being addressed with transportation improvements, too.

And we must address the irony of the most secretive political organization in the state accusing Pinal County of trying to “sneak” this by. The opposite is true. The plan has been crafted over many years with incredible input from city councils, dozens of community meetings and considerable media attention. Indeed, ballots are being mailed to every registered voter in Pinal County for the Nov. 7 election.

We could go on because the lies and misinformation are so pronounced. From help with I-10 to new roads and freeways that will improve the lives of every Pinal County resident Propositions 416 and 417 are plans whose time have come and ones we must undertake before it’s too late. Help is not coming from the federal government. Help is not coming from the state, which says they have a “800 year” backlog for transportation projects. It must come from us, the people of Pinal County.

We return to the notion of who do you trust to get the new roads and freeways we desperately need in Pinal County? All of the people we mentioned, all of the collaboration that’s taken place and a small sales tax increase that will cost the average household 24 cents per day? Or a highly suspect special interest that is curiously trying to keep Pinal County down? They’ve even fought other parts of the plan to force you to pay more tax than what Pinal County is now proposing.

But beyond trust look at the plan for yourself. Judge it for yourself. It’s very impressive. Click here to view the plan map. We stand for the plan and for Pinal County, and hope you will too by voting yes on Propositions 416 and 417 on Nov. 7.

For more information on the campaign please go to www.yeson416and417.com. If you are interested in endorsing the campaign or requesting a sign for your yard or business please let us know that too by emailing us at vote@yeson416and417.com.

Connie Van Driel is a resident of Apache Junction. Tom Shope is the former mayor of Coolidge and owner of Shope’s IGA. Ed Farrell is a Maricopa resident and was the community’s first mayor.

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Scot Mussi

By Scot Mussi

Since 1987, Pinal County taxpayers have paid a dedicated half-cent sales tax to build transportation improvements in the region. More than $350 million dollars later the results have been a failure.

Now the County Board of Supervisors and Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) are back asking residents to approve Proposition 417, an additional $640-million-dollar sales tax increase to fund road construction. The entire plan is ill-conceived, unnecessary, tilted to benefit the politically well-connected and is likely illegal.

Among the reasons Prop 417 should be rejected is that the existing half-cent transportation tax has been misused and wasted over the past 15 years, which is why the proponents of the ballot proposition do everything they can to pretend the current tax doesn’t exist.

The abuse has been well documented in several state Auditor General reports. Since 1998, several municipalities have used their disbursements for unknown credit card expenses, an employee appreciation breakfast and even Christmas bonuses. Mammoth used the money they received to backfill deficits in non-transportation departments. In the case of Superior, the town literally siphoned off millions of dollars.

Apache Junction, Kearny, and Eloy were cited for such offenses as poor accounting, inadequate planning processes for future projects and deficient record-keeping for road projects. Despite the multiple infractions, the current proposal awards millions more to these same offenders. Superior, Kearny, Mammoth, and Eloy each receive $6 million in Prop 417 for undefined “local projects.”

Of the funds not being abused and wasted, most of the rest has been doled out to fund local street projects in municipalities throughout the county. Using a regional tax to build city streets was never the purpose of the tax and is a major reason why Pinal County lags behind Maricopa County (which has the same half-cent transportation tax) in regional freeway and roadway construction. Rather than passing a new transportation tax, Pinal taxpayers would be better served by fixing the existing tax and directing the funds to worthy county projects.

The entire planning process was gamed by the political establishment in Pinal County. Communities with representation on the Regional Transportation Authority are the winners in the plan. The rest of the county’s residents are the losers.

San Tan Valley – a community of nearly 90,000 people and approximately 22 percent of the entire county population, sees zero benefit from Prop 417. Saddlebrooke doesn’t fare much better. The only project going to the community of 26,000 is a proposed 6/10ths-mile stretch of road at a cost of $1 million, 0.1 percent of the total revenue included in the $640-million-dollar plan. If you live in Arizona City, all you get is a park-and-ride. Gold Canyon is left out of the plan entirely.

Well over one-third of county taxpayers will be paying a tax in which they receive no benefit in return.

Additionally, Pinal County already has the highest sales tax in the region at 6.7 percent. If the new tax were to pass, Pinal’s sales tax would be a penny higher than both Maricopa and Pima counties. Pinal County already struggles to compete for new jobs and businesses; Prop 417 will only make matters worse.

It would be hard to dream up a worse plan to punish taxpayers and paper over past mistakes, which is probably why the proponents of Prop 417 are trying to sneak this proposition through in November. A vote to raise taxes could have been put on the ballot in 2018 at a regularly scheduled election, but the political establishment believes that a low-turnout election later this year increases their chance of success.

Hopefully voters will see through their electoral ploy and reject this poorly crafted, unnecessary tax increase.

Scot Mussi is the president of Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Proposition 417 is on the November ballot.

County Attorney Kent Volkmer and Sheriff Mark Lamb are speaking out in favor of two propositions on the Nov. 7 ballot.

By Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb

Pinal County is a great place to live and work, but the challenges created by our current roads and freeways not only make commuters late for dinner, these problems also make our county less safe.

This new plan widens the 347 from 4 to 6 lanes and provides a new highway between Casa Grande and Maricopa, reducing reliance on I-10.

Propositions 416 and 417 would create $640 million worth of new roads and freeways in Pinal County. In addition to solving current and future traffic problems all over Pinal County, this project will also help reduce response times for sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, police officers and ambulances.

Minutes matter for first responders. Lives are put in danger when an ambulance driver is stuck in traffic. Public safety is threatened when a sheriff’s deputy is delayed in getting to a call for help. Lives and property are in harm’s way when firefighters have to contend with traffic jams.

The new infrastructure created by Propositions 416 and 417 will also will help to reduce the number of fatal crashes in our county, which have been increasing significantly in recent years.

Let us share with you one example.

Maricopa doesn’t have a major regional hospital. Residents in need must be transported to Casa Grande or Chandler. So what happens when Highway 347 is jammed up along with Interstate 10? This new plan widens the 347 from 4 to 6 lanes and provides a new highway between Casa Grande and Maricopa, reducing reliance on I-10. Go to www.yeson416and417.com and check out all the roads and freeways Propositions 416 and 417 will provide. From Apache Junction to Mammoth and Superior and SaddleBrooke to San Tan and Florence, the improvements are dramatic.

And while we speak to the public safety improvements, think of all the other improvements to your quality of life. Not being late for your kids or grandkids plays or games. Getting home for dinner on time. Not being stuck on I-10 forever. Enjoying open roads rather than clogged arterials. This vote on Nov. 7 is a boon for Pinal County commerce and your quality of life.

We are proud to join nearly two dozen community leaders in filing ballot statements in support of Propositions 416 and 417. Supporters include mayors from every corner of Pinal County as well as Democrats, Republicans, elected officials and business leaders.

This carefully crafted transportation plan addresses transportation concerns in every corner of the county, allowing motorists faster and safer ways to travel north to south and east to west. There is also funding for Dial-a-Ride services that help seniors and the disabled.

You don’t have to be a lawyer or a lawman to realize our current roads and freeway system needs some serious infrastructure. Props 416 and 417 provide that infrastructure for a half-cent increase in the sales tax. The average cost per resident is less than 25 cents a day.

Please join us in voting yes on Propositions 416 and 417. End gridlock, improve public safety, and give Pinal County the roads and freeways it deserves.

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Henry Wade is a resident of Maricopa.

By Henry Wade

As I sit here and ponder what to think about the current state of America’s affairs, I keep going back to the question, Where did you go America?

It is very difficult to observe the decimation of our great country into a state of chaos. How did we get to a place where harsh words and angry rhetoric have replaced civil discourse and respectful disagreement? Where did you go America?

Why does it seem so simple to dismiss a whole culture and the people that embrace its tenets merely because it is different from your own? Why does it seem so simple to call for and participate in the mistreatment and even death of fellow human beings because of their ethnic background or even skin color?

I am not ashamed to say, I AM AFRAID. However, I am not afraid for my life and property but for the safety and future of my children, grandchildren and all young people just beginning to experience life and all that the world has to offer. I am afraid that they will not be able to contribute the full potential and gifts they may be bringing to a world teetering on the edge of destruction.

Where did you go America? Even though there are those that feel America has left them behind while others prosper at the jobs and lifestyles they crave, how does one Make America Great Again if one choses to not include America in the process.

So, for me, and why I pose the question, “Where Did You Go America?” I will press on through the swamp and continue to stand against those wishing to expunge my ancestors’ heritage and mine. I will continue to unabashedly tout my love and support of the America I chose to defend for 20 years, 24 years ago because, when I am asked, “Where Did America Go?” I want to be able to say that I did not let it go away without doing my part to help make it stay.

Will you be able to say the same? God Bless America!

Henry Wade is a resident of Maricopa and a member of the city council.

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Peter Miller

By Peter Miller

They must think we’re all stupid in Maricopa. And they must think that the Pinal County Board of Supervisors are, too, along with county taxpayers.

Who’s “they?” The backers, lawyers and lobbyists for the proposed Attesa racetrack outside of Casa Grande.

You see, they find their own plan so inadequate that I think they have orchestrated an attempt to thwart the Apex Motor Club in Maricopa, a compelling project unanimously approved by Mayor Price and the Maricopa City Council in April.

It’s an effort so duplicitous it demands outrage from everyone in Pinal County. Here’s a little more background. Warning: It may cause you to get angrier than you’ve been in a while.

Recall that Apex is a 280-acre private automobile country club on the far, southwestern outskirts of Maricopa near the train tracks. Enthusiastically backed by local economic development officials it faced no opposition until one day former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods waltzed into town and started threatening Maricopa. When asked who he was representing the slick lawyer danced more than the name of a baseball team from Los Angeles.

Could there be a connection to Attesa? Owner Dan Erickson told Apex associates months previous that he would have to “kill” the Apex project if it moved forward.

After Maricopa leaders summarily dismissed Woods, an opposition group emerged to put the Apex approval to a public vote. It makes all the sense in the world that the group would be chaired by someone from Scottsdale and its treasurer from outside Maricopa as well. Indeed, the chairman of Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers, Robert Rebich, has a colorful and embarrassing history.

Of course, there’s no coincidence the effort was organized by Joe Villasenor, who worked with Woods to ensure a massive taxpayer subsidy for the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. It’s no coincidence either that Villasenor and Nick Wood, Attesa’s lawyer, are about as close professionally as Hall and Oates.

Most recently, Woods has engineered two lawsuits at Attesa’s behest. For one of the cases, who is the only plaintiff he could find in Maricopa to support the ridiculous litigation? Someone who lives some 5 miles from the site who was paid by Villasenor’s group to gather signatures against the project. That’s pathetic. Oh, and it’s totally natural that a petition circulator would care enough, or have the dough to pay a high-priced lawyer like Woods.

Lastly, on July 28 Erickson posted this entry on the Attesa blog talking about how great a private automobile country club in Chicago appeared after his recent visit there and what a cool addition it would be at Attesa.

Sounds a lot like Apex. Sounds like he just admitted, willingly or not, what he’s been up to all along to oppose Apex.

Throughout the process Erickson, Villasenor and Wood have all stated that they were not behind the opposition. Right.

Fortunately, there are remedies before all of us. First, lying to elected officials is a crime in Arizona. Second, so is masking the true funding of political campaign activities.

Both possibilities need to be explored by all robustly because what Attesa is doing is an embarrassment to all of Pinal County. But we can and should do more.

That’s why I have decided to form a group and serve as chairperson for a new political action committee called VILE: No on Attesa. It stands for “Voters Incensed about Lying to Electeds.” It’s being filed with Pinal County.

Unlike Apex, Attesa is seeking tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to support its development. If that approval ever comes before the Board of Supervisors, and is approved by them, we will collect signatures to put it before all voters in Pinal County for a vote. We will do the same for their zoning requests.

This is a shame because no one in Maricopa or Apex wishes anything for Attesa but good luck. But when a bully walks into the playground and starts hurting anyone and everything around there’s only one choice: Hit back. Hard.

Peter Miller is a resident of Maricopa.


Murray Siegel

By Murray Siegel

The new school year is beginning, and articles will be written about new curriculum, new programs and new staff in our schools. Little will be written about one part of the Maricopa Unified School District administrative area that is saving a significant amount of funds by using the expertise and dedication of its personnel.

It is in Business Services and in Maintenance where these savings are quietly being realized. It is about time that the residents of Maricopa are aware of these actions.

Working with Gordon Ponticello and Shari Payne in maintenance and Chad Whittle in grounds keeping, Business Services Director Aron Rausch has initiated the following money-saving programs:

  • An exterior lighting project using LED lights on all campuses is saving the district $135,000 per year.
  • A project to install energy efficient interior lighting will save the district $450,000 per year.
  • A behavior management program to use energy more effectively will save $40,000 per year.
  • Replacing old heating/air conditioning units with brand new equipment paid for by stare funds, costing the district zero.
  • In the near future, a web-based energy controls system combined with the use of solar power is expected to produce additional savings.

Rausch’s willingness to add the duties of maintenance director to his responsibilities when the former director retired, without receiving any additional salary, has saved MUSD real money.

Rausch lives in Maricopa with his wife Becky, who is an academic coach at Butterfield Elementary School. It seems making our schools effective is a family focus.

Murray Siegel has a PhD in MathEd and 42 years of teaching experience. He and his wife Sharon are volunteer teachers of advanced math classes at Butterfield Elementary School.

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Donna McBride, CASA supervisor

By Donna McBride

At a time when our country is celebrating its independence, hundreds of kids in Arizona’s foster care system are trying to find theirs without the guidance and direction that traditionally comes from parents.

Teens who enter the foster care system are at a disadvantage when it comes to independence. They are more likely than younger children to be placed in a group home or shelter situation with up to a dozen other youth and limited opportunities for personal growth. This hits hard at a time when most other kids their age are getting ready to drive, graduate high school and date.

There are thousands of teens in foster care in Arizona and every six months more than 500 of them reach the age of 18 and head out into the world on their own. The community can help. Studies have shown one caring, consistent adult can have a life-changing impact on a child in foster care. That’s why the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program is so important.

CASA advocates ensure not only that a child in foster care has a consistent adult presence but that they have the services and support they need to thrive. CASA advocates are appointed to one case and visit the children involved with that case regularly. They gather vital information which is shared in a court report with the judge who will ultimately make decisions regarding the child’s living situation.

Children with a CASA volunteer assigned to them are more likely to receive services and resources; twice as likely to find a safe, permanent home; and half as likely to re-enter the foster care system. Unfortunately, very few children get the support of a CASA volunteer.

There are currently more than 1,000 CASA volunteers serving children all over Arizona. Pinal County has nearly 80 CASA advocates serving but with roughly 1,200 children in foster care, we need help.  CASA of Pinal County encourages more people to get involved. To learn more about the program, contact Community Outreach Coordinator Ashley Flores at 520-866-7080 or AFlores@courts.az.gov.


Donna McBride is a program administrator for Pinal County Juvenile Court Services and supervisor of the CASA unit.

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Ioanna Morfessis

By Ioanna Morfessis

The Maricopa Economic Development Alliance welcomes the APEX Motor Club to our great city, because it will bring significant economic, tourism and quality of life benefits to Maricopa.

As Maricopa’s official private-public partnership for economic development, the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) brings together the business, education and government sectors to champion strategies and solutions that foster economic growth and prosperity in the City of Maricopa.

The APEX Motor Club is exactly the kind of project that aligns with the goals and aspirations of Maricopans and the City’s Vision 2040 and Strategic Plan. This project essentially will be a country club for auto enthusiasts in Arizona and from throughout the country. The APEX Motor Club will be located on the northwest corner of Ralston Road and SR 238.

APEX Motor Club will be sited at the northwest corner of Ralston Road and SR 238, and will feature:

  • A 4-mile asphalt track, a clubhouse and upscale garages for vehicles
  • A separate track and facilities for racing karts, designed for children
  • About 200 “condominiums” for storing vehicles
  • A tuning shop and fueling station
  • Dining and meeting rooms
  • A fitness center and locker rooms

The Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission approved the project’s application for a conditional land use permit on April 10, and the Maricopa City Council approval of the permit took place at its April 18 regular session.

Our appointed and elected officials were wise in their approval of the conditional land use permit for APEX because they recognize the value of the more than 400 construction jobs, private capital investment of $30 million and the additional 20 to 30 permanent jobs that the project will generate over the next five years. And this is just the beginning of the benefits that can be realized from the APEX Motor Club project over the mid and long term.

Given our very youthful stage of development, APEX represents a potentially game-changing investment for Maricopa. Not only will the project bring economic and community benefits, but the project also will increase visitors to our City. Maricopa will become part of the growing trend nationally for motorsports clubs for car enthusiasts, and our image will garner more cache in a new and exciting way.

Just as importantly, the more we can put Maricopa on the “map” – especially with visitors – the stronger business case can be made for attracting a hotel into the city.

Win-win all the way around.

But the APEX Motor Club project now is facing opposition. A referendum campaign is being mounted to oppose the APEX Motor Club on the basis that a racetrack on SR 238, surrounded by neighbors who support the use, in an area already zoned industrial, which will bring jobs and tourists to the area, should not locate in the City of Maricopa.

The owners of APEX have diligently followed all local procedures and ordinances required by the City of Maricopa. Given that the officers of the referendum committee – “Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers” – do not reside in Maricopa, nor did they necessarily approve our local zoning ordinances, we find it ironic that these outside parties want to thwart local laws and approvals.

There is no doubt that all Maricopans want to see high quality employment generating opportunities abound in our city. Growing the economy and enhancing our coveted quality of life are fundamental goals for us all. The APEX Motor Club is the kind of project that will contribute to our quality of life and economic sustainability and contribute to advancing the economic development of Maricopa.

The MEDA Board of Directors enthusiastically supports the APEX Motor Club and we encourage all Maricopans to do the same.

Ioanna Morfessis, Ph.D., is senior advisor to the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance, a nonprofit, 501(C)3 organization that was established in 2009 as the city’s economic development private-public partnership. Learn more about MEDA at www.maricopaeda.com.