Tags Articles tagged with "letter to the editor"

letter to the editor

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John C. McDonald

By John McDonald

Rising insurance premiums and dwindling options in market exchanges have made the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) a popular target for critics.

Many politicians pointed to the Healthcare Marketplace health plan pulling out of Pinal County, Arizona. They called it a healthcare disaster and the media sounded the alarm about the failed promises of Obamacare. President-elect Donald Trump ran on the promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but it will not happen any time soon and the marketplace is enrolling people now. Unbiased and bilingual assisters are available to help through Jan. 31 at 800-377-3536.

The purpose of the Affordable Care Act has always been to provide access to healthcare. In Pinal County, there are multiple health plan options through Blue Cross Blue Shield offering Gold, Silver and Bronze plans, each with different co-payments, deductibles, premiums and levels of coverage.

Another solid option for people in Pinal County is Sun Life Family Health Center. Sun Life patients can be assured they will receive high-quality, affordable primary care, regardless of their health insurance status. Sun Life operates 11 sites in Pinal County, and in four of those communities they are the only primary care provider.

We need to change the conversation about health care. Insurance coverage and access to affordable healthcare are vastly different topics. Insurance coverage is affected by premium hikes and insurers who exit the Healthcare Marketplace. Changes with insurers has triggered negative slogans about health care, but when it comes to access, Community Health Centers are the beacon of light for many who need access to high quality, affordable healthcare.

Let’s be clear: health care is about more than an insurance card. People also need a medical home.

Arizona has over 150 community health center sites providing care to over 611,255 Arizonans, 17 percent of whom are uninsured. Community Health Centers serve patients with group insurance, Marketplace insurance, Medicaid and Medicare. Services are also provided on a sliding fee scale, based on income, to the uninsured and underinsured.

Affordable healthcare for many like me is a moral imperative but, it’s also a sound public investment. I doubt there is any program that has delivered more in terms of saving both lives and taxpayer dollars over the course of over half a century. The community health care system saves $24 billion a year in reduced ER visits and hospitalizations because health centers efficiently manage and treat chronic disease, even among the most economically disadvantaged populations. Changes in insurance plans may create barriers to care, but health centers remain anchored in their communities.

Even with growing public support for health centers there is no guarantee for long-term funding to support our continued expansion in medically underserved areas. It is up to Congress to extend mandatory funding for health centers, which expires next year. Funding cuts to health centers may result in fewer primary care providers and fewer health center locations. Such an outcome would pose a hardship for people with scarce insurance options.

If insurers are taking flight, we would be wise to continue investing in a proven healthcare model of care for all Americans.

John C. McDonald is CEO of the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, which represents over 150 health center sites throughout Arizona.

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Ben Owens

By Ben Owens

For the past several years, MUSD 20 has just been getting by. Class sizes are continually growing and, in many cases, have surpassed what most people would consider an effective learning environment. For example, last year some kindergarten classes had over 30 students in them. Our children deserve better!

This is where the community can help. Voting “YES” on the override will help our kids directly by lowering class sizes and offering expanded learning opportunities. “YES” will also greatly expand the technology available to our students and the know-how to integrate that technology. By passing the override, each student in MUSD 20 will be positively affected and will ultimately be better prepared for college and life.

The residents of Maricopa stand at a cross roads and are being asked to make our community better. Together, let’s show the children of our community they are worth the investment. Maricopa is a great place to live and raise a family, but together we can make it better. Voting “YES” will help equip the children of our community with the smaller class sizes and the technology they deserve. Their future depends on us!

Please vote “YES” on the override on Nov. 8.

Ben Owens is a resident of Maricopa, parent of two and site council president of Santa Rosa Elementary.

State Sen. Steve Smith

By Sen. Steve Smith

This election offers a clear choice when voting for your state senator and state representatives, and the team of Vince Leach, Mark Finchem and I have delivered on what we said we would.

We stressed that the economy would be our primary focus, and I’m happy to report that Arizona is now ranked No. 2 in the nation for job growth by Kiplinger, and Forbes Magazine ranked Arizona No. 1 in future job growth.

In my short time in the Senate, I’ve been named the “Champion of the Taxpayer” by the largest non-partisan organization and ranked as the No. 1 legislator in all of Arizona in 2016 for my work in protecting “We the People” and our hard earned tax dollars.

I’ve also been named “Legislator of the Year” for my work for the developmentally disabled and for law enforcement, and just last week I was presented with an award by the U.S. Department of Defense for the work I’ve done for our veterans.  I’m also considered Arizona’s strongest defender of securing our border and have received all of the top endorsements from the education and business community.

I mention this because it’s easy for candidates to say what they want to do, but it’s another to prove with a voting record what they have done and my record speaks for itself.

Vince Leach and Mark Finchem’s record also speaks for itself as they have both had one of the most successful years of any freshman legislator for their strong votes on the budget, good education policy, and economic development legislation.  Vince and Mark have also been recognized and received multiple awards for their hard work.

Please continue to contact us with your ideas, questions, and comments and we humbly once again ask that you would vote Steve Smith for Senate and Vince Leach and Mark Finchem for State House.

God bless!

Steve Smith is the state senator from District 11 and a resident of Maricopa.

Jerry Bricker

By Jerry Bricker

Join the MOB and ride on a RAM. (MOB is Maricopans on Bicycles. An RAM is a Ride Around Maricopa.)

Jerry Bricker was already pedaling in 1945.
Jerry Bricker was already pedaling in 1945.

I am an experienced group-ride leader who has led rides all over the Eastern Metro area for years. I am worn out fighting commuter traffic traveling up to Tempe or Chandler to meet up with friends for safe and social bike rides.

I would very much like to make a few more friends and start a bicycle club here in Maricopa. It is much safer to ride with a group who will help and protect each other rather than risk the dangers of riding alone.

The plan is to have a ride during the week for retired folks and stay-at-home youngsters, and weekend rides for everyone. They will be non-competitive “no-drop” road rides where all riders stay together so no one gets lost or left behind due to a flat tire or other problems. Distance and pace will depend on the ability, experience and stamina of participants who show up for a given ride. Some short, slow rides and some longer, faster rides.  Helmets will be required for all riders.

If interested in joining or you want more information, please contact Jerry at jlbrick@earthlink.net.

Jerry Bricker has been a resident of Maricopa for 29 years and is an avid bicycle rider.

Julia Gusse

By Julia Gusse

At the start of this election I requested your vote for the privilege to represent the great people of Maricopa as your councilmember.

I spoke on my resilience to represent you, just recently a local resident called me about an issue he was having with ED3. He (like myself and Mayor Christian Price) are Solar City customers with leased solar panels on our homes. This Maricopa resident purchased a new home and was requesting to have those panels transferred to his new property. Solar City had this option when we purchased the lease and therefore we all assumed this was a simple task. With the new solar regulations ED3 had established in 2015, this was not possible until I brought this to the city’s attention. Mayor Price worked with ED3 to have the terms of these lease transfers honored and as a result this issue was resolved. This is just one example of the resilience for which I will fight for, to assure that our residents are satisfied with my commitment of representing you.

I spoke on my resourcefulness to represent you, a few years ago (2011) when I started the Let’s Move program for our youth to stay active during the summer months, we did not have Copper Sky and had to rely on the generosity of our community partners (Maricopa Unified School District). I approached MUSD for their indoor gymnasiums to run basketball and other activities for the program, and they generously donated their facilities. Just recently the City Council debated the relocation of our senior groups once Copa Center is demolished for the overpass, and they came up empty without a solution. If I am elected, I will work with MUSD to see about facilitating a location for our seniors and creating a Memorandum of Understanding that will benefit all the taxpayers that contribute to MUSD regardless if they have children in the schools or not.

I was a teacher for MUSD and worked at Santa Cruz Elementary in the Tortosa community. I know for a fact that many of the classrooms at that location sit empty all year long. As taxpayers, our residents are paying for these classrooms to sit empty, why not use these locations for our seniors or an additional library since this city has outgrown our only library? This is a matter of being resourceful with what we have available within this city and I will work to assure that our residents are satisfied with my commitment of representing all of you.

Lastly, I spoke on my proven record as your councilmember (2010-2014). I missed all of two meeting dates within the 4.5 years that I served as your councilmember.  How many of you are aware that we have a councilmember that is running for reelection with a record of 32 absences in his 4.5 years of service?  I am committed to representing you and have a proven record of doing so.

I am resilient, resourceful and reliable with a proven record of keeping informed, actively participating at the decision making table and standing up for our constituents. I love the city we all call home and ask you for your vote but more importantly, please make an informed decision and vote.

Julia Romero Gusse is a candidate for Maricopa City Council.

Jackie Gonzalez

By Jackie Gonzalez

It seems that you cannot swing a dead political polecat without landing on someone who is for or against the Maricopa Unified School District override. On Oct. 12, Alan Marchione published an opinion piece against the override. It reads in an exasperated manner, calling into question the intentions of the school district to the “democratic process” and that it is “disrespectful to the voter,” while comparing a public school district to the charter school system.

I have been through the rigmarole of six failed override proposals, each with their own reasons as to why they were needed. Each was met with skepticism by both myself and the community at large. It was comparable to passing a plate at a religious service and asking for a contribution; there was no established plan, just please give us money. I voted “No” then.

This time seems different, however. Upon doing my own research, in conjunction with the pro and con views presented, it gave me a clearer picture of WHAT they are asking for and more importantly WHY (as opposed to previous years). The presenters of the bill explain WHERE the money is going. Contrary to Mr. Marchione’s opinion, this actually shows the voter respect; it says when you approve this, here is what you will pay and what it does for the community at large ($500,000 that goes to hiring 50 new teachers, technology, and other programs and support marked out). Like many others, this reassures me that the money granted will go where it’s meant to. Like many others, I have changed my stance on this proposition.

The questions and distinctions were raised as to the difference between a district school and a charter school. I believe that it is unfair to compare a whole school district to one specific charter school (Legacy Traditional). For instance, many charter schools raise substantial amounts of money and funding from private sources (GreatSchools.org). Spending per pupil can vary drastically even within the same city between schools. This is different from district schools, where AZ/MUSD spending is around $7,890 per student, compared to a national average of $11,927 per student (Niche.com). And while we are on the topic of sources, it was quoted through Niche that Legacy Traditional School is ranked #1. I am not sure where that information was found, since Niche.com shows Legacy as unranked for their K-10 offering.

Maricopa is indeed ranked 75th for their entire district. If you ask me, that’s atrocious. While the reasons might be cloudy, it boils down to the fact that the teachers are overworked, underpaid and expected to perform tasks way above simple “teaching.” We can all agree that better schools equal better students. This in turn equals a better workforce and punts the ball back to the job market to create jobs in town. Even if you do not have children yourself, it is selfish to think you will not see a boost to the property values that will occur. Maybe then will the parents who ship their kids off to Tempe, Kyrene or other cities trust in what MUSD has to offer.

We look to other cities often for guidance on economic matters. How do cities like Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek attract the companies and places that Maricopa wants? Let’s look at the investment that those respective cities make for their districts’ education. We cannot seek to carbon copy other aspects, but leave education out in the cold. The expected cost is around $11.80 per $100,000 of assessed value of your house. This is much lower than the market value of your house. For me, it comes out to about $17.54 per month for me. That’s not a large impact, and would not be for any sensible person or family.

Speaking specifically about Prop 123 for a moment, this statewide ballot allocates money to the entirety of the state; not just Maricopa. This override is strictly for Maricopa to enjoy and benefit from. There is overwhelming support from the MUSD Board (duh), but also from most of, if not all of the major groups in town. Maricopa City Council has come out in favor of it, as has the mayor himself, the justice constable, the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance, and the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce. With so many credible groups coming out to support it, it seems as though the only ones against it this time are those who use the charter school system and who bus their kids out to other districts, robbing our Maricopa Unified School District of even more money. Just think if those kids were here, an override may not be needed.

Believe in the kids. Believe in the school system in Maricopa. Invest in the future. It may pay off sooner than you think.

Jackie Gonzalez is a resident of Maricopa.

Dan Frank

By Dan Frank

The outcome of the General Election is critically important for Maricopa. In just a few weeks, voters will make extremely important decisions that impact local growth and development, like who will be elected to City Council as well as approval of our city’s General Plan, Proposition 415.

As a candidate, I’ve attended city council meetings, community events and candidate forums and gone door-to-door to talk with voters. Those experiences enabled me to speak with hundreds of people, listen to their concerns, and answer their questions. I’ve also been able to tell them why I feel I’m the best candidate for city council and to share my vision for our future.

As I was finishing my last term on city council, I was appointed by Mayor Price to serve as chairman of the 2040 Vision Committee. The goal of the committee was to plan the future of Maricopa by establishing the city’s direction for the next 25 years. The resulting 2040 Vision Strategic Plan is the primary reference for updating and revising Maricopa’s General Plan, which must be approved by voters, and is on the November ballot as Proposition 415. Prop 415 is not about raising taxes or annexation. It’s an updated plan for intelligent, systematic and responsible planning of Maricopa’s future and it’s a future I want to help deliver! As chairman of the 2040 Vision Committee, I am proud of the effort that city staff has put into developing the General Plan and thank them for all of their hard work and for developing a great product.

Our city is growing and new homes bring revenue, but they also come with increased demand for services. New businesses are also coming, yet we need more commercial and retail sales taxes to support the local economy. We need more local higher-paying jobs to reduce or eliminate commutes and we need to support our locally owned small businesses. Maricopa’s population is growing, but the necessary infrastructure must be prioritized and planned. We still face significant obstacles, such as floodplain mitigation and its direct correlation to economic development. We must advocate to state and federal representatives on the importance of local control and receiving revenues that enable us to provide vital public safety and other services.

We need better transportation options into, out of and through Maricopa. The RTA is a work in-progress, but there are myriad issues and concerns that come with a project like this; such as additional funding, right-of-way limitations and voter-approval. Maricopa has a great many challenges, but we have even more opportunities. A well planned multimodal transportation system is key to a thriving City.

I will work hard for Maricopa to help mitigate or reduce these challenges and capitalize on opportunities wherever they exist. My background as a Civil Engineer as well as my combined experiences and expertise make me the ideal candidate for City Council.

My vision for Maricopa is the same as the 2040 Vision – “The City of Maricopa is a family friendly, vibrant community that offers diverse opportunities in culture, technology, education, business, entrepreneurship, transportation, entertainment, and recreation for all ages. A close knit community of committed leaders, engaged citizens, and diverse partners with pride in our history, and a shared vision for a prosperous future.”

Please vote “YES” on Prop 415, and I humbly ask you to vote Dan Frank for city Council. Thank you.

Dan Frank is one of four candidates running for two seats on the Maricopa City Council.

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By Henry Wade

Traditionally, I personally prefer not to call attention to my role or contributions in community events especially when saying thank you to so many unselfish community servants.  However I felt compelled to take this opportunity to thank my fellow members of American Legion Post 133 along with the Auxiliary and event sponsors for working together on the tremendously successful appreciation event held at the Veterans Center, Saturday, Oct. 8.

During our initial discussions I was immediately convinced that showing our appreciation for first responders was a no-brainer.  However, including school teachers and elected officials seemed like a wonderful opportunity to publicly demonstrate that we recognize their daily efforts to support the community.

Without the services of these core community members, the City of Maricopa would be an insignificant bump on State Route 347.

The image of up to 200 attendees was also proof positive that we, the members of the organizing committee, were on the right path. It also demonstrated to our sponsors that their contributions were well placed and made a tangible mark on the entire event.

I would say that all of this is typical but there is nothing typical about the City of Maricopa.  You “rock” family, which is why I join the multitude in stating, I Love Maricopa!

Henry Wade is a member of American Legion Post 133 and a city councilmember.

Randi Kremer

By Randi Kremer

Having a very innate ability to run a small business, compiled with the “drive” to have my own store, brought me to the crossroad of my life that I wouldn’t soon forget.

When I purchased my business from the previous owner there was a lot to be accomplished to make the store “mine.” I needed to hear customer feedback in regards to what they wanted me to stock for sale. I also needed to evaluate the last few years’ sales. I most certainly needed to evaluate whether or not my new business venture would be successful, and I’m pretty sure that is what every new business owner does.

Well, I was fortunate enough to know Councilmember Bridger Kimball and I enlisted his help with the opening.

Not only did Bridger assist me with the permitting and licensing, he also assisted me with merchandising my entire store. He also helped me with my first pro-forma and helped me to project sales for the coming months . Councilmember Kimball also helped me navigate the tax code, the licensing process, as well as got me in touch with the City’s economic development department to help further my business growth. The City of Maricopa has been great in furthering my business’ future but Councilman Kimball has been an asset to me and others.

I ask for your support in making sure Bridger Kimball is re-elected to the city council so he can continue to help small business owners just like me. We, too, are important!

Randi Kremer is the owner of Copa’s Critters and Supplies.

When Maricopa Unified School District requested pro and con arguments from residents about its proposed budget override, as legally required for its election material, it received no arguments against it. Eight arguments were received in favor of the override.

Here are some samples:

For the past several years, MUSD 20 has just been getting by. Class sizes are continually growing and, in many cases, have surpassed what most people would consider an effective learning environment. For example, last year some kindergarten classes had over thirty students in them! Our children deserve better!  This is where the community can help. Voting “YES” on the override will help our kids directly by lowering class sizes and offering expanded learning opportunities. “YES” will also greatly expand the technology available to our students and the know-how to integrate that technology. By passing the override, each student in MUSD 20 will be positively affected and will ultimately be better prepared for college and life.

The residents of Maricopa stand at a cross roads and are being asked to make our community better. Together, let’s show the children of our community they are worth the investment. Maricopa is a great place to live and raise a family, but together we can make it better. Voting “YES” will help equip the children of our community with the smaller class sizes and the technology they deserve. Their future depends on us!

Please vote “YES” on the override on November 8th.

Ben Owens, Maricopa resident

Maricopa is at a tipping point. Are we going to be the flourishing community with quality amenities, local jobs, great educational opportunities and low taxes many of us envision?

Do you want to have more stores and services in Maricopa?
Do you want to have employers bring more jobs to Maricopa?
Do you want your property values to increase?
Do you want your taxes to decrease?
Do you want our kids to have the best educational opportunities possible?

If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, you should vote YES on Maricopa USD’s override proposal.

A key to attracting industry to Maricopa is great schools. Businesses won’t locate here if they cannot recruit talent, and one of the first questions potential employees – a.k.a. moms and dads – ask is “How are the schools?” (Same goes for homebuyers!)

In addition to helping develop future doctors, cops, mechanics, teachers, etc., improving education in Maricopa will result in more businesses coming to Maricopa providing services and jobs. Commercial development will increase demand/value for our homes and decrease residents’ tax burden.

MUSD is a “B” district. Let’s give them the resrouces they need to become an “A” district and totally transform our community.

Scott Bartle, Maricopa business owner and former MUSD governing board president

Alan Marchione

By Alan Marchione

A new election cycle is upon us, and once again, we find the Maricopa Unified School District desperately trying to pass another override. The voters have now turned down this proposition six times.  At this point, it’s degrading to the democratic process, and disrespectful to the voter, to continue pushing this redundant agenda which has been vehemently rejected.

While I fully support education, I cannot support an additional education tax that isn’t distributed equitably amongst all of the students in our community.  If you’re a parent whose student attends one of our local charter schools, such as Legacy Traditional, Sequoia Pathway, or Leading Edge, your child won’t see a penny of the override funds.  That’s right, the additional taxes you’d be paying will only benefit those students attending MUSD, and your earnings will be further levied to purchase laptops for someone else’s student.

As for my tax dollars, I’ve become increasingly irritated with the ferocious appetite and sense of entitlement various government entities feel they have on what we earn.  MUSD can word-smith this however it wants to, but it’s further taxation on an already over-taxed community. 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.

MUSD has a wonderful assortment of vibrant and highly qualified teachers.  However, the district is ranking at an embarrassing 75th place, according to Niche.com.  With our district sitting in the lowest quarter of districts statewide, we need to ask ourselves, why?  Marginal net improvement over the past several years indicates a severe lack of innovation and leadership. Money isn’t the only factor in well performing districts, as it comes down to leadership, effective educational philosophy and parental involvement.  Education at school is only one-half of the equation, as the other half is at home with Mom and Dad.

Here lies the important difference between our local public charter schools and MUSD.  Parental involvement.  Our neighborhood charters assign elevated significance on family participation in a child’s learning, and the result is flourishing students. MUSD is serving as a free, glorified daycare for many families, and the district needs to magnify the expectations placed on parent investment in education, instead of throwing money at the problem.

Recently, in an online discussion, Vince Manfredi, chairman of the Vote Yes on the Override campaign, crudely suggested that I thought my children were “too good for MUSD.”  Nothing could be farther from the truth. Children are receiving a comprehensive and more challenging curriculum at our local charter schools – because they are effective, efficient, and accountable. In fact, Legacy Traditional is the No. 1 Charter School in Arizona.  Simply put, as a parent who places immense importance on his children’s education and future prospects, why would I want to send my children to a district ranked 75th, when I can send them to a Charter School with a first class rating?

When considering the current override on the ballot, let’s not forget the additional, newly found revenue the district will be realizing from the recently passed Prop. 123 funds.  How much has our district needlessly spent in its continued attempts to pass the override?  The cumulative cost has been enormous, and one must wonder how that money could have been better allocated. I think MUSD should show us it can perform better within the constraints of its existing budget, as the Charter schools, and other higher performing districts around the state have done.

Alan Marchione is a 10-year resident of Maricopa.

Jen Smestad

By Jennifer Smestad

In 2012 after watching my close friend Jennifer Sedler (Miss Arizona 2011) compete in the Miss America pageant, I decided I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Through following her year, I quickly learned that the Miss America Organization isn’t just a pageant — it’s about serving others and giving back.

I entered my first pageant ever, Miss Cave Creek, and achieved first runner-up. One week later, I competed in Miss Tempe and also placed first runner-up. After that, I spent months getting myself ready for the next pageant and was determined to win. They say third time’s a charm, right? Well, luckily for me, I entered into the Miss City of Maricopa pageant and won! The prize was not only a pretty crown and the title of Miss City of Maricopa, but also a $1,000 scholarship.

After winning, I learned that the funding for the scholarship was donated by Councilmember Bridger Kimball. I was elated with the fact that a city councilmember cared enough to donate his month’s salary for a pageant scholarship, especially to a girl he didn’t know.

Representing the City of Maricopa for that year was one of the most rewarding and honorable experiences of my life, and I am so proud to have held that title. As Miss City of Maricopa, I went on to win the Miss Arizona pageant and was fortunate enough to represent our wonderful state on the Miss America stage. Having never forgotten where it all started, I appreciate Bridger’s contribution to make winning my first pageant actually happen. I also greatly respect and thank the citizens and other councilmembers of Maricopa for welcoming me with open arms and believing in me to represent them.

I am forever thankful for Bridger and all of Maricopa’s support, and now, I ask that you vote to re-elect my friend, Bridger Kimball, for city council as he is involved in the community and takes pride in serving the City of Maricopa.

Jennifer Smestad was Miss City of Maricopa 2012 and Miss Arizona 2013

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Julia Gusse

By Julia Gusse

Our Appreciation Event [Oct. 8, 2016] was aimed at thanking all those who provide so much for our community and while we understand that this is their “jobs,” they manage to pour their heart and soul into their work and we (The Maricopa American Legion Post #133) wanted to show our appreciation in this small manner.

We had about 200 people stop by for our Appreciation Event; firefighters, paramedics, police, political leaders and teachers.  We wanted the best for our event, and Helen’s catering went above and beyond what we had ordered and expected; she brought the traditional hot dogs and hamburgers but also brought pulled pork, three different salads and many delicious desserts and those in attendance were happy with the food choices.

We also featured DJ Markie Mark, a USMC Veteran that kept people entertained and dancing.  At the end of the event, we distributed a late dinner to all the fire houses and the MPD sub-station, reaching our goal of hosting 300 for our first annual appreciation event.  This was all free to the public paid by Post #133 and our sponsors (Global Indemnity, Councilman Henry Wade, Mr. Roy White, Ahwatukee Realty, Benchmark Home Loans, Julia Romero Gusse and Dan Frank).  Without the generous sponsors, this would not have been possible.

We want to thank everyone in attendance and remind the community that we are forever grateful and appreciate our local heroes.

Julia R. Gusse is the American Legion District #4 vice commander and event coordinator

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Merry Grace

By Merry Grace

Thank you! Two words that mean so much and are extended to so many. Maricopa, thank you for an amazing Homecoming Week for our MHS Rams. The love and support felt means so much to all of our Rams.

Thank you to every single teacher, parent, student, alumni and community member who helped with the planning and coordinating of all the events throughout the week. All of the hard work paid off. The smiles on faces as they joined in the celebration were an indication that all the time and effort you put into the week, was well worth it.

Thank you to all of our volunteers who helped make the events possible including the City of Maricopa, AK Chin, CERT volunteers, Maricopa Police, City of Maricopa Fire Dept, Maricopa Police Explorers and to all of the numerous community members who volunteered throughout the week. These events could not have happened if not for your help!

Thank you to all of the businesses who participated in Paint the Town Red and Ramily Night. Your support is contagious and means so much to our Rams. Ram Pride Fever was everywhere!

Thank you to everyone who participated in and who came out to support Ram Fest. Special thank you goes out to Jamie Bowen-West for coordinating it. This was our second year, which was bigger than last year. Ram Pride fever was felt throughout the evening. Thank you to Edward Farrell and the many others who coordinated the alumni game. The friendly rivalry continues every year.

Thank you to all those who helped make that bonfire seen from those entering Maricopa off of 347.That was our biggest bonfire yet and the memories will last a lifetime! Thank you to not only those who helped donate pallets but to those who delivered and built the stack. Special thank you to our Fire Dept, who made sure everything was safe and who started that fire. Thank you to our Cert members and Police Explorers who kept us all at a safe distance.

Thank you to Maricopa for coming out to fill the stands to help cheer on our team to a victory. Thank you to the many boosters who work so hard to ensure the behind-the-scenes of the game is coordinated. Thank you to all our booster supporters who make so many things possible!.

Thank you to every single future Ram, alumni member, local business, city leader, local candidate, student, parent, teacher and community member who came out to support all of our Rams throughout the week. The support does amazing things for our Rams and means so much to all of us.

There is no doubt that our small but growing town is filled with hometown spirit. The love felt increases school spirit and leads to amazing things. From this proud Mom, I thank you for that love. To all of our future Rams – we see you! We look forward to welcoming you to our Ramily soon. Let’s continue the Ram Pride all year Maricopa!

Merry Grace is a resident of Maricopa.

Joshua Babb. (photo by Tyler Loveall)

By Joshua Babb

Maricopa I want to thank those who supported me in my efforts to represent you as a member of City Council. It was an honor meeting with so many of you and I truly enjoyed my time winning your trust. But we are not done there are now two city council seats still open and four candidates still running.

While I was running for council I got to meet all the current candidates and interact with them. I also studied their platforms and backgrounds.

We are at a pivotal point where both transportation and flood management are the top two challenges to our growing city. Dan Frank’s experience as an engineer and his leadership on the board of Maricopa Flood Control District puts him as a great choice from Maricopa City Council. I have no doubt he will be the leader and guide the city to solve both these key issues.

While being a very strong conservative Bridger Kimball understands that the community must be united in our vision of the future, he has worked with the community and veterans groups to bring needed services to our city. As a business owner Bridger also understands what Maricopa needs to do to attract businesses.

The skills from both these candidates are going to be key to see the continued growth of our city. Join me on Nov. 8 in voting for these two great candidates.

Join me no matter your political party or affiliation I challenge each and every voter in Maricopa, exercise your right and duty to vote on Nov. 8.

The deadline for voter registration is Oct. 10. If you’re not registered to vote go now to Service Arizona EZ Voter Registration and get registered, it takes less than five minutes.

I will issue a challenge to those who are still in the council race. Do not get caught up in what is occurring on the notational stage. Do not run negative campaigns, run on your merit and what actions you will take. This challenge also extends not only to the candidates but their campaigns, families and supporters. What say you?

Joshua Babb is a Maricopa resident and former candidate for city council.

Julia Romero Gusse

By Julia Gusse

In regards to a recent opinion piece written by Mr. Carl Diedrich, he questions “What is Gusse capable of?” Allow me to answer his question; I am capable of doing what is in the best interest for Maricopa and its residents.

When Mr. Carl Diedrich came before the city council for the vacant seat appointment (over two years ago), I was asked by several residents to assure them that he would not be appointed. At the appointment/interview I spoke the truth, I addressed him as Sir, did not raise my voice and only spoke on the many reasons he should not be appointed, with the aim of fulfilling the voter’s wishes.

My points regarding Mr. Diedrich were truthful and this must have resonated with my colleagues because he was not appointed by the majority of the Mayor and Council. I was later brought up on code of ethics charges due to my “tone” and was given a “warning,” I suppose this is the burden I must bear for being a woman who spoke her mind.

Lastly, in his editorial, Mr. Diedrich (a non-veteran) refers to my service to our country as a badge of entitlement. To that, I simply state that I have my medals, ribbons and honorable discharge from the United States Air Force to say otherwise. I also have many recognitions that I have received throughout my civilian years from many entities regarding my contributions and service to this community, state and my brothers and sisters in uniform.

I am unapologetically an educated female, community leader, veteran and veteran advocate that is not afraid to stand up for what is right and just.

I have done what I was elected to do and if elected once more, you have my oath that I will continue to represent the good people of this community. If you should have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to reach me at JuliaGusse.com.

Julia Gusse is a candidate for Maricopa City Council.

Bridger Kimball

By Bridger Kimball

It has ultimately been a pleasure serving the citizens of Maricopa for the last four years and I would just like to outline some of my accomplishments while serving as well as outline my plans for the future when re-elected.

Being an effective member of the city council requires more than just ideas and compassion for your community; it requires one to be able to work well with the other members of council and at times ask for the other members to help you accomplish your goal/goals and convince them why your idea is a benefit for the community. Over the past four years I have effectively and efficiently been able to engage in cohesive conversation with my colleagues in helping to continue providing the best and highest quality municipal services to the citizens of our great city.

Here are some of the highlights of accomplishments that I am proud to have been a part of and issues that I have championed while serving you all:

Councilwoman Peg Chapados and I brought forward to a vote of the council to add the mayoral four-year term to the ballot in 2014 for a vote of the people to make it happen. We successfully accomplished that working together and the city is better off because of it.

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi and I brought forward to council the potential for a code change in allowing valid concealed carry permit holders to carry concealed firearms on city property. After lots of debate, and vetting, we were able to get that legislation passed and the city code changed to allow it.

Former Councilwoman Julia Gusse and I brought forward a resolution in support of our Armed Forces and our veterans to show the city’s support of these brave men and women. The mayor read that resolution at a council meeting in late 2013.

In 2014, with the help of city staff and the Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa, I was able to sponsor an ongoing program called the “Maricopa Boxes for the Brave,” which provides shipping for and cost for shipping to citizens who would like to send care packages overseas to our Armed Service members.

Also in 2014, with the help of city staff, I was able to start an annual veterans event titled “Maricopa Stand Up for Veterans,” an event that showcases valuable and imperative services that are provided to veterans in Pinal County and the surrounding areas.

In 2013 the city was faced with a tough choice when it came to budgeting for the Salsa Festival, and I chose to contribute $3,000 of my council discretionary funds to the Community Services Department to help fund a second stage so local performers could showcase their talents at the festival.

These are just a few examples of us, as a council, working together for the greater good of this city, as well as my personal passion for this city and the citizens I was elected to represent.

If re-elected to another four-year term, I promise to continue on the right path in making the decisions that I, as well as the council, see to be the best ones for all of the citizens of this great city. Having lived here for the past 13 years I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand what fast paced growth is like, positive economic development, transportation struggles, development struggles, and balancing a budget… just to name a few.

Having served for the past four years on the Budget Finance and Operations sub-committee I know, in depth, what it is like to balance the city’s budget and I will continue for the next four years being a fiscal steward of tax payer hard earned dollars as I have previously. I will also continue to retain my very unique voice on council and will also continue to collaborate with my colleagues in helping to continue to move Maricopa forward.

I will continue to be a solid voice for our public safety department and ensuring that as our population continues to grow, so do the resources that our Police and Fire Departments need to continue providing the best public safety in the state for our citizens.

I will continue to stand for what the citizens want when it comes to community events, the tax levy, the overpass project, new retail development, and helping to create jobs. This is what I was elected to do and I will continue to do so if re-elected.

We have accomplished so much, but there is a lot left to do and I am only one of two candidates on the November ballot that can continue our forward progress without having to endure a learning curve. I have dedicated my time and energy to not only this country as a Marine but also to this city as a councilmember, and will continue to do so for my love of this country, this city, my friendship with the citizens, and because I, too, live here and want to see our city prosper.

 Bridger Kimball is a member of the Maricopa City Council and running for re-election.

To see video of the candidates in the General Election debate Sept. 17, click here

Merry Grace

Maricopa, it’s time to get the party started and you are invited!


Last night Mayor Price officially proclaimed next week as Paint The Town Red Week and it will be a week filled with many events. These past four years have been amazing as the community helps to grow the celebration to be bigger and better every year. The result of the community support has done amazing things fostering the growth of school spirit and pride with the students, parents and teachers – including our future Ram families. For this we all say thank you.


So break out the red and black gear, show us your Ram Pride and come on out to celebrate with us with a dose of good ol’ hometown spirit! Here are the week’s events:


Monday 9/26

– Lasertag at Ultrastar with a $5 suggested donation – registration starts at 5:30 p.m., games start at 6 p.m. Bring MHS ID

– Pizza dinner offered after lasertag and before movie

– Movie, Big Hero 6, 7:30 p.m. free with MHS ID


Tuesday 9/27

– Powder Puff Football 6 p.m. at MHS


Wednesday 9/28

– Ramily Night at select local restaurants

– Paint The Town Red Voting

– Freshman Football Game 6 p.m. at MHS


Thursday 9/29

– Blood Drive at MHS 7:30 – 2:30 permission form required

– Ramfest in Copper Sky parking lot at 6:00 pm free except for food vendors

– Alumni vs City Leaders flag football game at Copper Sky 7:30 p.m.

– Bonfire 8:45-10 p.m. at Copper Sky


Friday 9/30

– Fox 10 live broadcast at 8 a.m.

– School wide assembly at 2 p.m.

– Pep Rally type parade at 5 p.m. starting from Maricopa Wells Middle School

– Varsity football game at 7 p.m.


Saturday 10/1

Homecoming Dance 8-11 p.m.


The entire week will be Spirit Week

Monday – Moustache Day

Tuesday – Twin Day

Wednesday – World’s Strongest Day (workout gear)

Thursday – Top Hat Day (crazy hats)

Friday – Ram Pride Day


Merry Grace is a resident of Maricopa.



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Julia Romero Gusse

By Julia R. Gusse


I was asked as to why I am so heavily involved with our veteran community.  It was a lengthy conversation but the short answer is that I’m involved because I want to continue to serve.


While in the military, I held a top-secret clearance and worked at the National Security Agency in Maryland.  On my off duty time I volunteered at a youth correctional institution, played on the base travel basketball team, made lifelong friends and married a fellow active duty sailor.  I have been a veteran advocate since I completed my enlistment in the United States Air Force.  I took an oath and have continued to honor that oath by serving my fellow brothers and sisters in uniform.  I was recently appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to serve as a State of Arizona local board member of the Selective Service System (aka; Draft Board).  This is not only a great honor but for those of you who are familiar with these duties, this is also a huge responsibility.

The following are the organizations that I have taken an active role in service of our Maricopa veterans.
•   Founding Member of the Maricopa American Legion Post #133 (2008)
•   Cell Phones for Vets; collected hundreds of cell phones to be recycled and in return for phone cards distributed to active members overseas so that they may call home (2008-09)
•   Maricopa American Legion Post #133 Commander (2011-12 and current active member)
•   Founding Member and former President of the Maricopa American Legion Auxiliary Unit #133 (2012 – current active member)
•   Founder of the Maricopa American Legion Baseball (2012 – current)
•   Founder of the first Maricopa Veterans Town Hall (2013, 2014)
•   Founder of the first Maricopa Operation Welcome Home (2011-2014)
•   Founder and CEO of VetIT, Inc., a military Veteran 501(c)3 non-profit organization (2015-current)
•   Vice Commander of the American Legion District #4, Pinal County (current)

While on City Council I served on the National League of Cities and Towns Women in Municipal Government Board and was instrumental in bringing to light the many issues regarding women in military service.  During a time when our local veterans were dealing with the hostile and negative treatment and procedures at the Phoenix VA, I managed to bring the Phoenix VA Hospital Interim Director (along with his certified staff) into Maricopa to discuss and resolve issues for our local veterans.


In the past two years, I have been publishing veteran related articles in a local publication to bring awareness to veteran issues and have founded (on my own dime) a nonprofit organization to address these issues locally. For my “full-time employment,” I am a University Veteran Program Coordinator, assisting military vets reach their academic goals.  As you can clearly see, I am passionate about serving my veterans and my community.


With your assistance and your vote, I hope to honorably represent our veterans once more on our Maricopa City Council.

Julia Romero Gusse is a candidate for Maricopa City Council.

Anthony Smith

By Anthony Smith

As I write this piece, I recognize that we are moving quickly towards the Aug. 30 Primary Election. I hope you have or will take the time to vote and encourage others to vote as well. It is an excellent opportunity to express our appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy, including the right of a free people to vote for the candidate of their choice.

During the course of my campaign, I have been asked to respond to many questions. I would like to write this final article answering the questions I have been asked the most.

Why are you running for re-election?
I’m running to further continue the successful economic turn-around we started four years ago. I’m happy to report that Pinal County was the first county in the state to recover all jobs that were lost to the recession. We have cut our unemployment rate in half and restored our county’s financial health. Our hard work is beginning to reap benefits. Our current pipeline of new business projects exceeds $18 billion. Included in this list of committed projects is the Attesa Motorsports project. This project will need a variety of workers that range from executive management and highly skilled technicians, to administrative jobs; all within a 30- to 40-minute drive from most communities in District 4.

What are you top priorities for the next four years?
We need to reverse the fact that over 50 percent of our workers leave Pinal County each day to work in another county. That is why it has been crucial for us to focus these past four years on economic development. When we created our Strategic Plan in 2014, all its goals can be traced back to strengthening economic development.

We need to drive down our property tax rate to at least the state average. In the last four years, we have moved from second highest to fourth highest. We are making progress. For this fiscal year, we reduced the primary property tax rate by 13 cents.  Because of my strong position on tax reduction, I have earned the title “Champion of the Taxpayer,” awarded by the Americans for Prosperity. I have the highest rating of this type of all the Pinal County Supervisors.

We need to broaden our tax base by finding and attracting new sources of revenue. Basically, we need to grow our way into prosperity. We can achieve this by partnering with the educational community and vocational training centers to create a high-quality and available workforce. Having a quality workforce is one of the top site selection criteria for businesses looking to re-locate or expand.  By continuing on this path, Pinal County remains well positioned for successful and sustainable economic growth.

Finally, we need to strengthen our transportation network. During these last four years, I have been a leader pushing for some of our most important transportation projects.  These critical projects include expanding SR 347 from 4 to 6 lanes and the new Interstate 11 that will create a north/south commerce corridor that may ultimately link Mexico, U.S. and Canada.

Why are you the best candidate?
I have demonstrated the importance of being accountable, action-oriented and doing what you say you will do. After eight years in public office, I have a track-record for accomplishing 85-90 percent of my promises. That’s an excellent record for any elected position.

I have proven my leadership by accepting important roles in regional and statewide groups. I’ve come to realize that if Pinal County leaders don’t step into these pivotal roles, others outside of Pinal County will gladly plan our future. That is an unacceptable option, and why I do extra duty to represent you.

I deliver high-quality constituent service by going directly to the people to understand their needs and then acting on their behalf.  I’m the only supervisor that holds regular town-hall meetings within my District. I hold these meetings in five communities within the district.

It has been an honor and my pleasure to serve you these past four years. I hope that I have earned your vote and you allow me to serve you for another four years. Thank you for your consideration and please vote Aug. 30.

Anthony Smith is the District 4 supervisor for Pinal County and a resident of Maricopa.

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The Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa,AZ #7 challenge all Maricopa businesses to wear RED every Friday. Why, you ask? What is RED Friday?

RED FRIDAYS – Americans who support our troops used to be called the ‘silent majority’. We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers.

R – Remember
E – Everyone
D- Deployed

Until they all come home! Wear RED every Friday! Whether it is a shirt, jewelry, shoes. By word of mouth, press, social media — on Fridays let’s make Maricopa a sea of red much like in the bleachers at a homecoming football game .We need to remember everyday all of our military members and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it’s good to be an American.Many times we forget those who are serving or have served our beautiful Country. God bless our military and their families. Let’s see Maricopa rock the RED on Fridays.

Very Respectfully
The Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa, AZ #7

Gina Hull

By Gina Hull

Mr. George “Bridger” Kimball is running for re-election, but does the public understand that this is a man who does not uphold a high standard of integrity?

This community deserves individuals that work on their behalf and uphold the law to its fullest. The following are the facts: On the evening of December 15, 2012, Mr. Kimball was pulled over by MPD for a traffic violation. According to the police report, Mr. Kimball was pulled over and the MPD officer noticed that the driver’s window was rolled up. He then “knocked at the window and shouted at the driver to roll down his window.”

The report then states “I asked the driver if he had any firearms in the pickup truck. The driver stated there was a .38 handgun in the center console and began to reach in towards his right, which is the center of the pickup.” The officer smelled an “intoxicating odor coming from his breath,” and Kimball was informed that he was being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Kimball was transported to the station, and the MPD officer notes that Mr. Kimball complained about the handcuffs being too tight and the officer then activates his department issued voice recorder.

At the station Kimball was administered a breath test. During the test the officer “witnessed Bridger biting the mouthpiece, plugging the breath hole with his tongue and not exhaling in the manner to successfully complete the test” but goes on to state the two samples registered as 0.2563 at 0335 and then 0.208 at 0339 and test stated “Not a Successfully Completed Test Sequence.” Blood was then drawn and on 05/09/13 an evaluation report showed analysis of “0.285% w/v ethyl alcohol.” Prior to these results, Kimball pled guilty to one count of driving under the influence, a Class 1 Misdemeanor. He served 24 hours at the Pinal County Jail.

According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, a Super Extreme DUI is a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .20+ and comes with up to $8,300 in fines and fees, 45 days in jail, 90 days suspended license and an Ignition Interlock system imposed for up to a duration of 18 months.

When I asked him to step down from his position as councilman for the City of Maricopa he instead attempted to intimidate me through an exchange of emails.

Maricopa WAKE UP! Mr. Kimball is not fit to represent us (Maricopa) in public office.

Gina Hull is a resident of Maricopa.

Leon Potter

By Leon Potter

A few years ago I spoke about the three “E’s” going hand in hand; education, employment, economic development. Resources, financial and otherwise, that go to our education systems give our professional educators the tools necessary to give the highest quality education to our students.

As future employees, our students are assets to businesses that hire highly qualified employees. Students also are future business leaders that will use their education to develop businesses (economic development) that will hire employees.

Businesses also look to communities that have highly regarded education systems for places to do business and for their employees to live; looking to their future of their children and employees’ children. In essence, the three “E’s” become one “E”; A flourishing environment of education, employment and economic development opportunities in Maricopa.

Based on this philosophy: yes, I support the Maricopa Unified School District override!

Leon Potter is a resident of Maricopa and a candidate for city council.

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Charlie and Becky Goff

By Charlie and Becky Goff

The Pinal County Open Space And Trails Department is currently in the Master Planning process for the proposed Palo Verde Regional Park, one of seven proposed in the county. Its 23,000 acres would include most of the Palo Verde Mountains and connect to the Table Top Wilderness Area, Sonoran Desert National Monument and Anza National Historic Trail.

The Master Plan for the Regional Park will outline what recreational activities will be available and where they will be located. Four alternatives have been developed: “A” is No Action, while “B” through “D” incorporate increasing levels of recreational opportunities and amenities.

Public comments on the four alternatives will be accepted through Friday, July 15, on the Department’s website at http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/OpenSpaceTRails/ParkTrailPlanning/Pages/PaloVerdeCommentForm.aspx

The area was first identified as a future regional park in the Pinal County Open Space and Trails Master Plan (OSTMP), adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2007.  It was included in the Pinal County Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2009 and updated in 2014. The City of Maricopa has also named this area as a future regional park in its General Plan.

Throughout the planning process and since, citizens have reinforced their commitment to preservation of open space and access to trails and recreational opportunities. Pinal County residents’ values are documented in the Pinal County Comprehensive Plan (Pinal County Vision page 29) and summarized in Chapter 6 as follows:

Pinal residents emphasized that they value:
Open space
Rural atmosphere and environment
Natural beauty
History and heritage
Night sky and clean air

Pinal residents emphasized that they don’t want to lose:
Open space
Sense of community
Clean air, water, environment
Water resources

Pinal County has become the fastest growing county in Arizona. With so many diverse resources and so much opportunity, the Pinal Partnership was formed in 2005 to bring together people and ideas to help it reach its full potential. The mission of the Partnership’s Open Space and Trails Committee is twofold: to promote the value of existing and planned parks, trails, public lands and open space, and to influence stake- and land-holders to plan for and provide them.

As expressed in a letter of support from one of the committee partners, the proposed park would provide protection of significant desert ecosystems, quality recreation options for residents and visitors, connections to adjacent biological communities, linkage to regional trail systems, opportunities for environmental education and scientific study, conservation of critical riparian areas and biological corridors, dust abatement and a chance to restore the integrity of plant and animal communities damaged by unregulated OHV and other activities historically occurring in the area.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the landowner for the proposed regional park. There is no charge for a CRMA (Cooperative Recreation Management Area) agreement, under which Pinal County and the BLM would cooperatively manage the passive and active recreational uses of land. Since the BLM manages land for multiple uses – including commercial development and extractive industries – any of these could be located at the site at some point until the land is protected by some other status such as the CRMA. Beginning this process now allows Pinal County to safeguard its resources and recreational values both today and into the future.

The Committee therefore supports Alternatives B-D, compatible with the Open Space and Trails Department’s mission “to provide outdoor leisure, recreation, environmental, cultural and natural resource management services to Pinal County residents and visitors so they can  have access to, understanding and enjoyment of the natural assets of Pinal County.”

Charlie and Becky Goff are co-chairs of the Pinal Partnership Open Space & Trails Committee.

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Natalie McCasling

By Natalie McCasling

My name is Natalie McCasling, and I am a mother, business owner, and resident in the City of Maricopa. The reason I am writing today is to relay the news and concerns I have about the most recent ACA Marketplace exit in Pinal County.

This week, Blue Cross Blue Shield announced its exit from Maricopa and Pinal Counties in the ACA Marketplace; they were the last and final insurer left in Pinal County. As of today, July 7, 2016, there are no insurers left in the ACA Marketplace for Pinal County; that means residents of Pinal County have zero options to select from when it comes to health insurance for 2017. With open enrollment mere months away, I am in a panic when it comes to insuring my daughter for the upcoming year.

Not being able to insure your 4-year-old daughter is concerning enough, but when she is also a child with special needs, it is absolutely terrifying. This should not even be a possibility in the United States in the year 2016.

Before we move ahead, I would like to look back at this past year and how fantastic the ACA Marketplace Plan was for my daughter.

My daughter, Chelsea, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3.5. This means that she has not developed as a “normal” child should; it can be seen in her motor, speech, and social skills. When she was diagnosed, we were told that she has the motor skills of a 27-month-old and her speech was at the level of an 18-month-old. Imagine that: Your 3, almost 4-year-old child does not speak as well as most toddlers and she is in pre-school. We now knew why our daughter was standing in the corner in her traditional pre-school class, not interacting with any other children or teachers. We now knew why she could not tell us her throat hurt or the letters of the alphabet. She is a child with autism.

Being dealt that diagnosis was an incredible blow to our family — it is devastating not knowing if your child will ever talk or be able to do simple things like jumping — but it also opened the door to answers and treatments that my daughter so desperately needed. We now knew what we were up against and I was going to make sure that she got every bit of care she needs to be the best little human she can be.

After meeting with pediatricians, developmental pediatricians, child psychologists, educators, special education professionals, and speech, occupational, and physical therapists, we knew which programs and therapies we needed to get set into place for Chelsea’s path to success. We had speech, occupational, and physical therapies all in place through a traditional insurance plan. What that plan did not cover was applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.

ABA therapy is critical in the development of children with autism. So critical in fact, the state of Arizona enacted Steven’s Law in 2008, requiring insurance plans to cover ABA therapy. There are some exceptions to this law (small employers, self-insured and individual plans) where the insurance plans are not required to follow the law. This is where ACA became a huge victory in the McCasling household.

When ACA passed, it not only dropped the pre-existing condition exclusion which could prevent any special needs child from attaining health insurance, but it also required ACA Marketplace plans to cover ABA therapy in the state of Arizona (as well as 26 other states). This meant my daughter could receive the care at the early ages where it has been deemed the most successful without bankrupting our family. _1

I purchased an ACA Marketplace plan with United Healthcare for 2016, and Chelsea was able to start ABA therapy earlier this year. I cannot truly express in words how successful this therapy has been for her. I can remember at the age of 4.5, when Chelsea was finally able to tell us her name, and it brought tears to my eyes. It is something many parents take for granted — a child knowing their own name and being able to say it — but this was something we had been working diligently toward every single day for years, and here we finally were. You could finally ask her, “What is your name?” and she would now be able to say, in the sweetest little voice, “Chewwseea.”

Knowing her name isn’t the only accomplishment we have achieved while in ABA therapy. In the short seven months she’s been receiving ABA therapy, she has mastered many skills—meaning she can accomplish the targeted task 100 percent of the time — such as knowing and reciting the entire alphabet, counting to 20, jumping, recognizing and identifying all of the colors, and she has finally graduated to speaking in two-word phrases. While these are small accomplishments many parents take for granted, they are equivalent to scaling Mt. Everest in our household. However, at seven months in, we have not successfully made it to the summit. We have started our climb and are making great strides, but it will take many years, if not a lifetime, to achieve. We also cannot accomplish this journey alone; we must have our trained, expert team to get us there as this is not a solo adventure.

This is why I was devastated to hear from our insurer that they would no longer insure within the Marketplace in Arizona; I was also concerned to hear that eight rural counties in the state would be left with one insurer. When that insurer (BCBS) announced its exit earlier this week, I went into a downright panic. Now I have zero options for health insurance for my daughter that will cover this life-changing ABA therapy next year.

Without insurance coverage, I am forced to choose between her not receiving the therapy and covering the cost out of pocket for around $50,000 per year. While it is worth every penny, it is not an expense most families can cover. I know as a small business owner, this is not something I will be able to cover and I will have to look at moving out of state to attain the insurance we need because Chelsea not receiving ABA therapy is not an option. The children in Pinal County missing out on the life-changing therapy they need to become the most successful people they can be should not be an option either. We have been left on the side of the world’s tallest mountain without any options to scale it. If we aren’t climbing, we are either falling or standing still to wither away. Neither option is a good one for children with autism; they deserve the chance to climb.

I am writing to you to not only share my story and devastation over this final ACA Marketplace exit, but I am also pleading to local and federal lawmakers to enact change so this does not happen to the children in Pinal County who need it the most.

While I write about children with autism who need coverage, this is about all of the residents in Pinal County who will be left without ACA Marketplace insurance options next year. Pinal County may be the first place this has happened in the nation and if change does not take place, it will not be the last.

Let’s work together to close the loopholes in the laws. Let’s work together to insure the children in Pinal County who need our leaders to look out for them the most. Let’s work together to make sure none of these children and families are left devastated in the insurance marketplace in Arizona in 2017. Let’s make sure no one is left uninsured in the United States in 2017. Let’s climb this mountain together.
I appreciate your time and consideration in this matter.

Natalie McCasling is a resident of Maricopa.

1_ PubMed.gov publications: PMID: 25241118; “Assessing progress and outcome of early intensive behavioral intervention for toddlers with autism.”
PMID: 25190094; “Comparison of behavior analytic and eclectic early interventions for young children with autism after three years.”
Further studies can be found here

Rich Vitiello

By Rich Vitiello

Rather than couch things in political happy talk, I speak plainly – without glossing things over and dishing out words from both sides of my mouth. I speak from the heart. That’s not trying to be divisive – just honest.

If I don’t know about a subject, I have always found it best to sit, listen and learn from people who have an interest or expertise in the matter. I’ve been listening to residents, farmers and other business people, as well as government employees, officials and management. Once elected, that is what I will continue to do.

The county’s budget is large and complicated, but it is something that must be examined every step of the way. It’s taxpayer money – and elected officials must be held accountable for spending it. I plan to sit down with department heads to listen and learn – and to find what their needs and wants are. In government, just as in business, there’s always a need accompanied by a want. Part of my mandate will be to have county management separate their needs from their wants so budgets can be evaluated and projects put forth that yield results. That’s part of being a responsible government leader and advocate. That’s also part of being a guardian of the taxpayers’ money.

I’ve told people that I am in favor of streamlining the county’s government – in other words, reducing the burden to the taxpayer and improving government service, but not at the expense of the safety, health and welfare of the public that depends on fundamental county services. Streamlining and reducing the burden to the taxpayer may come from a combination of things, but one thing is sure, I won’t be so reckless as to support cutting department budgets straight across the board, nor will I seek cuts without attempting to understand their impact.

I believe protecting our citizens and establishing a bond of trust and accountability is key to making Pinal County a safer place to live and do business. That is what will bring security, peace of mind and success. I am an advocate of public safety, not just law enforcement, but all that concerns the public. I have publicly spoken against marijuana and in support of the needs of residents. People need results, not talk.

I have called the incumbent on the carpet for attempting to mislead the voters. In that regard, I hope to clear things up for the incumbent: The county sheriff doesn’t have a fleet of patrol cars that were transferred to that office by the federal government after seizure. If we did, those cars and the deputies riding in them might be paid for by using RICO funds. But we don’t. Our deputies, who are already understaffed and underpaid compared to other law enforcement agencies, are working 12-hour shifts due to eight years of shrinking budgets. The incumbent wants them to work additional hours per shift.

In consulting with sheriff’s office officials, RICO expenditures already carry PCSO in many different areas that the purposefully insufficient budget does not cover things such as training, weapons, vehicle maintenance, aviation fuel and equipment, technology, software licensing, etc. So, Mr. Smith, please stop trying to sway the voters on a hypothetical argument under false pretense. It’s unbecoming.

Recently, a resident in the Hidden Valley area south of Maricopa wrote about her experience with the incumbent. Until recently, the incumbent staunchly supported the proposed Palo Verde Park. He flip-flopped in the face of very vocal and virulent opposition, and now states he will “listen to” opposing residents and make a vote consistent with constituents. I believe the incumbent should have been doing that since he was elected three plus years ago. That would have been representation — not the experience people have had to endure.

As to flood control, I am concerned about all of Pinal County, not just the area that the incumbent is focused on. Public safety and solving our flood control issues are keys to bringing economic development to the county. I’ve had conversations with Dan Frank, a civil engineer and president of the Maricopa Flood Control District. He’s also a candidate for Maricopa City Council and has substantial experience in flood control matters.

Frank has expressed some frustration in working with Pinal County Flood Control for review and approvals of certain documents for the MFCD. The incumbent sits on the board of the Pinal County Flood Control District. In June, it appropriated $1.5 million for a flood control study with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at local taxpayer expense. “This is not the first time this watershed was studied by the Corps,” Frank said. “I hope this is not a repeat of 1994, when the Lower Santa Cruz River was studied and the results were to do nothing.” The conclusion of that study was that “No implementable plan was developed with available funds… the study was terminated with joint concurrence of the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers and Pinal County flood control.”

The definition of insanity can be described as doing the same things over and over again, hoping for a different result. The definition of government insanity can be summed up as spending the taxpayer money over and over again to study the same thing that should have been solved long ago. Something needs to be done – allowing a problem to fester for over 20 years does nobody any good.
The incumbent criticizes me for speaking with people in and outside of the district. Getting information, including diverse opinions and listening to the concerns of residents is part of being an advocate and representative of Pinal County. Understanding and relating to the needs of residents and business people is one of the most important things one can do in local government. But it is apparent that the incumbent doesn’t feel the same way. It’s time for a change.

Rich Vitiello is a Maricopa resident and candidate for Pinal County supervisor in District 4 in the Republican primary against incumbent Anthony Smith.

Anthony Smith

By Anthony Smith

The role of county supervisor requires a person to pay attention to details and be a good researcher of the facts. The policies and decisions you make depend on you having a full understanding of the issues. Unfortunately, unlike my previous campaigns, I’ve spent an unprecedented amount of time correcting my opponent’s statements. This editorial is in response to Mr. Vitiello’s latest inaccurate claims.

I stated in the recent candidate forum that in lieu of the sheriff spending RICO money for nonprofits, those dollars could be spent for overtime for deputies and investigators. I stand by that claim. In my opponent’s editorial he quotes the Arizona Revised Statues but ignores the “latter” portion of the statute. Quoting in part from ARS 13-2314.03, paragraph E, “OR for any purpose permitted by federal law relating to the disposition of any property that is transferred to a law enforcement agency.” The “OR” statement refers to the document from The U.S. Department of Justice titled “Guide to Equitable Sharing for State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies,” where on page 19 it clearly states, RICO money used for overtime of officers and investigators is a permissible exception.

Nonprofit giving is very important, but when people in certain rural areas are afraid to go out at night or don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods, I believe protecting these citizens by paying overtime for additional patrols is the higher priority.

Another claim made by my opponent is that solving the historical flooding problem in Maricopa is just talk and no action. As I stated during the forum, a plan to protect the City of Maricopa and the rest of Pinal County is very much in progress. The City of Maricopa and a host of other municipalities, Native American communities and other interested parties are all members in the Lower Santa Cruz River Alliance. The Alliance is an advocacy group that is working directly with the Corps of Engineers on the project. Later this year and as part of the Feasibility Study, the Corp of Engineers plans to introduce some conceptual designs to mitigate the 100-year flood for Maricopa and other parts of Pinal County.

By this time in the campaign, I believe a candidate should be able to correctly name the communities in the district in which he is campaigning. In Mr. Vitiello’s last editorial, he says he has been speaking to people throughout the district including Stanfield. Stanfield is not part of District 4.

Lastly, Mr. Vitiello’s reference to my supporters as “minions” is both unbecoming and unprofessional. After this election, we most likely will continue living in the same community and this type of behavior is divisive and separates people.

Anthony Smith is a resident of Maricopa and the incumbent county supervisor for District 4. He is running for re-election in the Republican primary against Rich Vitiello.

Angela Villa

By Angela Villa

Regarding the upcoming election for Pinal County Supervisor for District 4, we need a change. We need representation.

I have been a resident of one of Pinal County’s rural areas, Maricopa/Hidden Valley, since 1997. In that time I and many neighbors have become highly involved in local issues, such as developments, zoning, comprehensive plans, general plans, annexations and much more. I have dealt with a couple of different county officials in the supervisory position, along with dealings with county officials in numerous other counties across Arizona. In all of my experiences, I have never come across a county representative who has neglected and failed to support the people he is supposed to represent more than our current Supervisor Anthony (Tony) Smith. Yes, a little harsh, but true. I have had dealings with Mr. Smith prior to his election as county supervisor and none were beneficial to our communities. There are plenty of documents to prove these issues are true.

Once Mr. Smith was elected to county supervisor, we hoped he would fulfill his duty as representative of Pinal County residents, all of them. We quickly found those wishes left unfulfilled. From Smith’s disregard for locals’ opinions affecting them directly under his representation, to Smith openly supporting those who are not residents and voters, but visitors, to his drive to push for directives and issues within the City of Maricopa (which have their own governing boards) more than for the people who he is the sole representative of.

Whether it be zoning issues, representation appointed by Mr. Smith, annexations, developments, public notices, zoning changes/requirements, safety issues, lack of notifications, emails from his constituents left for months unanswered by Mr. Smith or simply taking the public’s ( that he is elected to represent) input into consideration, a very large group of us has never experienced a more disappointing lack of cooperation and misrepresentation than we have under our current supervisor. I remember many years ago meeting with Mr. Snider, who was a much better suited representation for our district and highly involved with his local meetings and input with people and communities within his district, which was double the size it is now. We need that representation back.

I (and many others) openly support change for Pinal County District 4. We need representation that does exactly that – represents all people of Pinal County, especially those whom the county supervisor is their only source of representation. I have met with Mr. Vitiello, on numerous occasions, attended the debate and more. I like the fact that Mr. Vitiello puts himself out there as a representative of all Pinal County residents. He understands not everyone has the same lifestyles, wishes, desires, dreams and hopes. Mr. Vitiello is not pro-unincorporated, he is not pro-incorporated. What he is, is pro-Pinal County. He is someone who can open-mindedly and in a beneficial manner represent all of Pinal County’s very diverse residents. Mr. Vitiello has already proven himself responsive to people across District 4 (especially the TBird/Hidden Valley area, though we hold little voting value in comparison to other areas). When called upon, he acts. Mr. Vitiello is already highly involved in those same communities across the district, again, regardless of incorporated or not. Mr. Vitiello has not told us something, simply because it is what he believed we wanted to hear, but he agrees to listen and learn, to take all points into consideration. He is motivated and open minded, well versed and well rounded in his life and his community and I believe that he can carry Pinal County District 4 into a very beneficial future for all its residents.

Today and on Election Day, Mr. Vitiello will be my choice for Pinal County Supervisor of District 4. We need change. We need and deserve honest and beneficial representation.

Angela Villa is a resident of the unincorporated Hidden Valley area of Pinal County.

Leon Potter

By Leon Potter

I am hopeful when a candidate runs for office that it is because the person has a heart for public service and is genuinely up to the task, even if he or she is a newcomer to politics. That includes Mr. Vitiello when he ran for City Council in 2014. Speaking from experience, we all have to start

Understanding this, I had a meeting with Mr. Vitiello to find out more about him. I asked him
about other candidates that were running at the time to assess where Mr. Vitiello was on issues important to Maricopa in relation to what other candidates were saying and doing in their respective campaigns. When I mentioned a name of another City Council candidate, and well respected community leader, Mr. Vitiello was quick to refer to the other candidate as a “hack.” The other candidate would go on to be elected to City Council.

Fast forward to June 2016. Mr. Vitiello is now running for the seat of County Supervisor District
4. Mr. Vitiello writes an op-ed proclaiming he is his own man and at the same time calling people “minions.” “I make my own decisions. And unlike the incumbent and his minions, the things I’ve written and discussed are based on fact, not rumor or falsehoods.”

Are the “minions” the voters in District 4 that happen to support Supervisor Smith for re-election? Is Mayor Christian Price a “minion” for recently endorsing Supervisor Smith?

When I observed Mr. Vitiello two years ago, it seemed like he was doing, and saying, what others told him a candidate “should” do and say. He didn’t seem to be running a campaign from the heart, his heart.

I wanted to give Mr. Vitiello the benefit of the doubt then, and I want to give him the benefit of the doubt now, that saying words like “hack” and “minion” are someone else’s words … but then again, that goes against what Mr. Vitiello says about being his “own man.”

Leon Potter is a resident of Maricopa. He is running for Maricopa City Council.

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Cynthia Calhoun

By Cynthia Calhoun

I want to extend a huge thank you to InMaricopa and the community for your support of the MHS Theatre Company and our production of Les Miserables. It meant so much to my students to see the community at our show and recognize the hard work they put into telling this beautiful story.

Personally and professionally, I am so happy that I could share with the community this wonderful job that I have – I get to work with these great kids and help them develop their talent every day. What more could I ask for?

Finally, I look forward to seeing our audience at the next high school production in the fall, filling the seats and being whisked away to another few hours in our world. However, until then, several of my students will be involved with a Maricopa Community Theatre production I am directing: Next to Normal. Please support our local arts communities (we have several!) and bring some friends.

Thank you again and always.

Cynthia Calhoun teaches theatre at Maricopa High School and is the advisor of MHS Theatre Company.