Maricopa Flood Control District Board President Dan Frank already sees some of the big issues shaping up in the campaign for Pinal County Board of Supervisors.
As a civil engineer, he said a driving force for him “is being able to build a city or a county or infrastructure. I just feel like this is a good way for me to use my skills and talents to kind of move that forward and be part of building a better Pinal County.”
He is running for the District 4 seat currently occupied by Anthony Smith. Others who have opened their campaigns include Jeffrey McClure, a Republican from Saddlebrooke, and Marlene Pearce, an independent from Maricopa. Smith is not running for reelection.
“The board is doing a pretty good job now attracting businesses, and pretty good businesses now to Pinal County,” Frank said. “So, some things are heading in the right direction. I still think there’s a lot of work we can do.”
That work, he said, will be topics that will likely drive the campaign – transportation, water, floodplain and workforce.
“One of the key things we need to do better in the county is our workforce development and retention. It’s probably that retention that is the bigger thing,” he said. “The last thing we want to do is to train up a workforce in any industry and then have them get frustrated with something and leave and then go work up in the Valley.”
That “something” could very well be roads and infrastructure.
He would like to see Pinal County transform from a bedroom community with few high-paying jobs to a community where people want to live and work for generations. He sees the issues directly in District 4, which stretches from Maricopa, where many residents work in Maricopa County, to the Oracle area, where many residents work in Pima County.
Frank was an appointee to the Maricopa City Council to fill out a vacant term before being elected to the Flood Control District.
“I say we have a water problem because we have too much water in the wrong places and not enough water in the right places,” he said.
The position of so much of District 4 in the floodplain has stymied a lot of potential development. And the district remains at high threat for floodwaters.
He watched carefully as the Arizona Department of Water Resources reported its water-supply modeling for the county that showed a shortage in less than a century. He said he feels ADW is “trying to do a good thing and watch out for the public.”
As an engineer, he had projects put on hold because they could not get assured water supply based on the ADWR model.
“Could they account for things differently, like the groundwater recharge? They probably could, but that’s all something we need to look at,” Frank said. “I want to make sure, first and foremost, the citizens are protected and we do have water down the road. Otherwise we’re going to have some big issues.”
He is fully supportive of a committee that was formed by Pinal County to look at water future for the county and maybe find a middle ground.
While he calls county politics his biggest learning curve, he thinks his biggest strength is his engineering background and innate understanding of infrastructure involved in development, transportation and water.
“I think the current board got a little blindsided by the ADWR model,” Frank said. “They may not have been fully aware of the impacts of that. I don’t think anybody was expecting the results that came from ADWR unless they were somehow behind the scenes with it.”
He also knows the nature of his work could involve conflicts of interest as the county grows. He said he removes himself from those situations. Because he on the local flood control board, he said, he is very cautious about taking any flood-control projects in Maricopa.
He knows a big issue in the campaign and the county is transportation. For Maricopa, that is primarily State 347, though plans for the East-West Corridor to Casa Grande are also in the making.
Frank said the studies for solutions on the SR 347 should have been done years ago but likes the current model of collaboration among Maricopa Association of Governments, Pinal County, Maricopa County, Arizona Department of Transporation and Gila River Indian Community.
“Hopefully, we have the funding mechanism in place,” he said. “That’s going to be one of the biggest challenges. It’ll be really interesting to see what the ultimate solution is as far as what’s recommended.”