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Board of Supervisors

Jeffrey McClure

A Saddlebrooke resident is now the only Republican nominee for the District 4 seat on the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.

Jeffrey McClure, a member of the Oracle School District Governing Board, was the first to declare his candidacy for the post, which will be vacated at the end of this year when Anthony Smith’s term ends. Living in an area just north of the Pima County line, he’s had a lot of miles to cover to campaign in District 4.

He said he has a heavy base in Saddlebrooke because of his five years as president of the school board. He’s built a support network in the eastern portion of the district and done outreach in the most populous area of the west side, which is Maricopa.

The school board was his first foray into elected office, though he had been president of the local Republican precinct in Saddlebrooke, an unincorporated community that comprises two large retirement communities and is heavily GOP. McClure said he considered running four years ago.

“I’m not sure that all decisions are as fiscally responsible as they should be,” McClure said of the current board. “I see a lot of rush to movement.”

In particular, he felt the push to build county annexes in communities like Maricopa were fast-tracked. “It seemed to be awfully fast,” he said, “like a rush to judgment.”

Watching county budget hearings, he also noted duplicate requests for vehicles from departments and from fleet management. Unnecessary expense was one of the reasons he ran for school board when asked by fiscal conservatives. He said there were similar issues at the school district.

“It’s efficiency of operation that makes it work well. If it’s inefficient it burns money,” he said. “I’m all for spending money, but I want to spend it efficiently. I don’t want to keep taxing people more and more and more. I want to keep the tax rate low.”

He said he’s the best person for the job on the Board of Supervisors because he’s a uniter.

“I am a good team-builder, a consensus-builder,” he said. “I’m willing to see different sides to the same story.”

McClure said that has helped him succeed on a school board that is nonpartisan but where political leanings are known and play a factor in issues.

“I also have a lot of Dems that will vote for me because I support education,” he said. “They say, ‘You’re a Republican and you like education?’ ‘Yeah, I want smart kids.’ I’m not here to destroy it; I’m here to fix it.”

McClure is an early retiree. He sold his manufacturing company of tools for the wallpaper trade and retired at age 50 before he and his wife Barbara turned into RVers. He said they saw friends working toward retirement suddenly having serious health issues and older friends who had retired but could not do what they planned to do because of physical ailments.

After 29 years of self-employment, he dropped it all and hit the road. The McClures saw 43 states in 11 months, seeking to answer the question, “What’s the weirdest thing in this state?” They knew they would ultimately settle in Arizona once they were RV’d out. They looked at several communities before settling in Saddlebrooke in 2008. Barbara was the first to be publicly political. She had already been on a precinct committee in Seattle, Washington.

They have been married almost 38 years and have three sons and a grandchild.

McClure’s approach to government is very similar to his approach to business. When the Oracle School Board presented students as clients who deserved all the money they could get for them, McClure said the students were instead the product of the school.

“I’d say, ‘We’re a manufacturing company. We are putting out a product.’ They’d say, ‘The kids are our clients.’ I’d say, ‘What are they paying for? Your clients are the taxpayers.'”

He touts the fact the school passed a bond and an override in 2019 with a 20% margin in an area that is 43% Republican and receives 76% of its property tax revenue from retirees. He said it was about honest communication and talking directly to people about the issues.

Oracle gained a tech academy, robotics and Chromebooks. It brought in music education and restored the art program. McClure said that happened with “a different way of spending money. It’s about being very, very careful with how you spend money and the way you use the carryover budget.”

Though a conservative Republican, he’s not starry-eyed over the current economy.

“Right now we’re in this great catbird seat where we’re bringing in more than we’re spending. That’s really cool,” he said. “What happens when your balloon goes up and pops? I’m all for the Trump economy, but you can only go so high and something is going to happen. It doesn’t take a lot to trigger a recession.”

He said the county’s hot-button issues of water, employment and roads are really all the same issue. As the county works to bring in commercial development, it is bringing in more people to work at new businesses. That leads to troubles with infrastructure like water and roads, he said.

“You can’t build a city on houses and small retail,” McClure said. “You’ve got to have the roadways to attract the larger companies.”

He said he doesn’t have the answer but knows increasing fixed costs is not it.

The main municipality in the district, the City of Maricopa, is doing fine promoting its own causes with Mayor Christian Price at the helm, McClure said, and as county supervisor he would likely just stay out of the way.

McClure was unhappy with how the county’s justice courts were redistricted and also felt the legal wrangling over Prop 417 was not handled well. He was on the committee to redistrict the courts to account for growth while being more efficient. He complained that one plan they presented would have had all county residents within 45 minutes of a JP court, but it was shot down by the board because it did not align with the supervisors’ districts.

“Now some old people have to travel an hour and 15 minutes to go to court,” he said.

As for Prop 417, the funding mechanism for Prop 416, which created the Regional Transportation Authority to improve road around the county (including the Pinal portion of State Route 347), McClure said the county approach wasted taxpayer money. He said when the Goldwater Institute first complained about the ballot language of the issue, the county should have pulled it off the ballot, rewritten the offending language and then taken it back to the voters.

“They said removing it from the ballot would cost money,” he said. “Well, so does a lawsuit.”

The county lost Goldwater’s lawsuit, Harold Vangilder et al. vs. ADOR/Pinal County et al., in tax court but then won in the Arizona Court of Appeals. Now Goldwater is trying to get it before the state’s Supreme Court, which granted its attorneys an extra month to file its petitions. If Goldwater does not file before March 19, the suit could be dismissed.

Dan Frank withdrew from the Republican primary for District 4 supervisor. McClure and independent Marlene Pearce of Maricopa are the only candidates to file statements of interest. District 4, as of Jan. 6, is 33% Republican, 25% Democrat and 34% other or independent.

County Supervisor Anthony Smith (District 4) in his Maricopa office. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


In what will be a first for Maricopa, a State of the County Address is scheduled for May 17, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.

What: State of the County
When: May 17, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle
Who: Supervisor Anthony Smith
How much: Individuals $35; table of eight $280
RSVP: MaricopaChamber.org

District 4 Supervisor Anthony Smith of Maricopa will talk about what’s happened in the past year and what’s ahead for Pinal County. Smith said outgoing chamber executive Terri Crain approached him about providing the update as a chamber fundraiser.

Though Maricopa is the second-largest municipality in Pinal County, Smith acknowledged many of its residents know more about what is happening in Maricopa County.

“We’re going to identify what kind of services we bring here, where the county offices are at the library/health department/HUD,” Smith said. There is a fair county presence in Maricopa, but we’ll eventually need more. It’s just a matter of growth.”

Smith is bringing with him several elected and appointed county officials, from County Manager Greg Stanley to Sheriff Mark Lamb. In fact, he’s set aside two tables for county personnel.

“I’m going to emphasize teamwork between the county and the city,” Smith said.

Atop that list is the successful campaign for the regional transportation authority. Though it is still in court on a lawsuit from the Goldwater Institute (and probably will be for the summer, Smith predicted), it saw a variety of Maricopa entities and individuals come together in support.

The teamwork of the county and local flood control districts and the Army Corps of Engineers, he said, will be crucial to Maricopa’s ability to grow.

He will also talk about the growing job market, predicting Maricopa will provide 25 percent of the labor for new projects in the county. Maricopa, he said, has a well-educated work force, “and that’s an advantage when recruiting for jobs.”

Smith said Pinal was the first county to manage its way out of the recession and continues the highest rate of growth (14.5 percent compared to Maricopa County’s 12.5 percent).

In his forays into District 4, Smith also fields concerns and complaints the county needs to address. Those include emergency-response time in rural areas, illegal dumping and code compliance.

Overall, however, he thinks Pinal County is on strong footing.

“Our finances are very solid,” Smith said. “We have a decent reserve. We balance our budgets.”

This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Rich Vitiello

By Rich Vitiello

I’m not a politician and have no hidden agenda. I’m running for the office of county supervisor because I want to see a change for the better — for the short term and the long term. I believe I can bring positive change.

Government is responsible to the taxpayer, not the other way around. I don’t like wasteful spending and I make no apology for it. For the current supervisor to increase his office budget when other departments are forced to cut theirs is an unwarranted waste of taxpayer money. That’s not something I would do.

Being active in the local community, election time or not has been important to me. I’ve been a volunteer in our local police department, at the food bank, at our church and at fundraisers and other events for disabled and disadvantaged members of our community. I have almost three decades of international business experience under my belt. I’ve worked well with other people and look forward to continuing to do so.

The rift between our sheriff’s office and the board of supervisors needs to be resolved. I’ve spoken with numerous people about it. The capstone of that rift was when the Board of Supervisors terminated the ICE contract. Our county jail was built to house double the population it now has by using bonds that cost the taxpayer about $10 million a year. The ICE contract just about covered those payments. When the contract was lost, the revenue to pay for that bond didn’t come in any longer and had to be taken from other sources — meaning budget cuts to vital public services. We’ve got several more years to pay for it, so it’s not going away.

I don’t think it’s right that public safety people were put out of work and personnel can’t be hired because certain people didn’t want to negotiate with ICE. It hurts the public. That was short-sighted. There are people in the sheriff’s office who can work with our federal government to secure that contract, again if given the chance. Doing so would go a long way to solving more than budget issues. We need to bring that revenue source back. I want to see that happen.

I’ve made my positions on marijuana and support of public safety pretty clear. I’m against marijuana — any kind — and a big supporter of public safety, but not just law enforcement. There are other basic services that need to be provided by our county. I’ll work hard to do my part and make sure the taxpayer dollar is stretched.

The flood zone is a continuous and changing issue. Pinal County is over 5,300 square miles. It’s going to take a lot of cooperation of the various agencies with long term planning to resolve it. Flooding impacts our roads, building of homes and businesses, and where and how people can live. I’ve suggested the various flood control interests come together under one unified agency to evaluate and solve this issue. It’s easier said than done, but it needs to start somewhere.

I’m against tax increases — they hurt us all. When our residents are traveling out of the county to work, that means tax revenue goes with them. It also means they have to spend more time in traffic instead of being at home with their families. We need businesses to come and stay in Pinal County. Otherwise, not only do our residents leave the county for work, but tax revenue that could be generated by those businesses goes to other counties. That means the burden of funding government services is placed more and more on our homeowners.

We need to take a page or two out of our neighboring counties’ economic development playbooks. If we do it right, we’ll create a greater environment for businesses to come to Pinal County without increasing property taxes. It should be something our children are proud of.

I’m looking forward to a brighter future. I hope you are, too. I promise to work hard for you. It’s time for a change.

Rich Vitiello is a Maricopa resident and candidate for Pinal County supervisor in District 4.

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Despite time limitations, supervisor candidates Rich Vitiello (left) incumbent Anthony Smith had some exchanges in Saturday's debate. Photos by William Lange

By Ethan McSweeney

The two Republican candidates for District 4 of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors traded barbs in a heated debate Saturday morning at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center.

Incumbent Supervisor Anthony Smith and Rich Vitiello are both seeking the Republican nomination in August for the district, which covers western parts of Pinal County, including Maricopa, Arizona City and Saddlebrooke.

In the middle of the debate, Vitiello criticized Smith for voting to increase pay for his administrative staff by 28 percent. He said that Pinal County law enforcement officers should be the ones to have their pay boosted.

“I have no problem with giving some kind of a raise, but eight years going on now the deputies have not been given a raise,” Vitiello said. “Our police officers are well underpaid.”

Smith responded by saying the creation of the new district meant finding the appropriate pay for his assistant took some time to adjust to find the right amount.

“In fact, she is working for 25 percent less than what the midpoint is, and that was the right thing to do,” Smith said.

Smith then criticized Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu for supporting candidates in races around the county and encouraging Vitiello to run against him for the supervisor seat.

“I think it’s ridiculous that you would do that, because what that does is it creates a misbalance and ruins the checks and balances that we have between the Board of Supervisors and the people that we have budget authority over,” Smith said.

Vitiello denied that Babeu encouraged him to run. He said that while he supports Babeu, he wasn’t handpicked to run against Smith.

“Rich Vitiello is his own man,” Vitiello said.

“No one is going to tell me what to do,” he added.

At times, members of the audience shouted at Smith after he spoke.

Toward the end of the debate, Smith said he would be open to ending plans for the proposed Palo Verde Regional Park, west of Maricopa. Some residents in the area where the park would be located have mounted a fierce opposition to the proposal.

“Unless there is a substantial agreement to move forward, I will support the wishes of those who say no action and we will not go forward with the master plan,” Smith said.

On flood mitigation efforts in the area, Vitiello argued the efforts needed more response from the Pinal County government.

“We need to worry about it now, and our Pinal County office has not taken the steps to do that,” he said. “I will work with the different flood districts to make sure that we solve this to bring economic development.”

Smith said the Lower Santa Cruz River Alliance is already working with the flood districts to come up with a solution to flood issues.

“His one great plan for moving forward is already being done,” Smith said.

During the debate, Vitiello also expressed his support for a half-cent sales tax increase to pay to fix roads in Pinal County.

Smith, when asked about the perception of cartel activity in Pinal County, suggested that RICO funds could be used by the Sheriff’s Office toward high-crime areas to address the problem.

Anthony Smith (left) and Rich Vitiello are running in the Republican primary. Photo by William Lange
Anthony Smith (left) and Rich Vitiello are running in the Republican primary. Photo by William Lange

Anthony Smith

By Anthony Smith

On May 11, 2016, I was notified by the Pinal County Deputies Association that they are endorsing my candidacy for re-election as County Supervisor.

The letter from Benjamin Cook, President of Pinal County Deputies Association, reads as follows:

“Following extensive research by the Executive Board of the Pinal County Deputies Association, PCDA is proud to announce our endorsement for your candidacy for Supervisor of District 4.

Your support for public safety issues and employees is deeply appreciated. Your honest and upfront beliefs and convictions concerning the role of the County Supervisor’s in our community are much needed and refreshing.

PCDA believes that you will strive towards an improved alignment between the office of the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors, eliminating some of the politics within this system and reaffirming the needs of the citizens in your district.”

I am both honored and grateful to the men and women who are the front line forces of public safety for this very important endorsement. It reinforces the commitment we both have for working together to reduce crime, improve working conditions and manage resources within tight budgets.

During my next four years in office, I’ll continue to be as committed to the ideas put forward by the Pinal County Deputies Association as I have in my first term.

Anthony Smith is running for re-election to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.

Rich Vitiello

By Rich Vitiello

Gaining trust is sometimes not an easy task, especially when going up against a politician who muddles the truth. I don’t split hairs to redefine an action or a term — it is what it is.  That’s one of the differences between a politician and public servant. I’m not a politician.

When a public servant is seen as transparent and honest in his dealings, people will have confidence to trust that person. With 27 years of international business experience, I’m an experienced businessman who wants to bring his talents forth to help people. To be a public servant. That’s it.

I’ve cited things the incumbent has done that I don’t agree with. Many of the people in his district don’t agree with them, either. I truly believe that the people of Maricopa, Saddlebrooke, Stanfield, Arizona City and parts in between should be served by having an honest representative who is genuinely concerned not only about fiscal responsibility, accountability and public safety, but also about the health and welfare of the entire community.

Doing the right thing for the good of the people a public servant represents is the most important thing one can do. I switched from the city council to the county supervisor race because it needed to be done. I’m concerned about my family and community. My vision for being a supervisor is to be a servant to the community – to help others.

People need real, honest and transparent representation, not lip service. I will work with other people to better the lives of residents in Pinal County. I’ll sit down with residents, business persons, elected officials and county employees to listen, learn and understand their needs. I’ll agree with some opinions, and I’ll disagree with others. I will work hard to get things done with and for other people. But I won’t sell out.

People need to trust their elected officials, and that means they need honesty and openness in government — transparency.

I believe protecting our citizens and establishing a bond of trust and accountability is key to making Pinal County a better place to live and do business. Residents want a county supervisor who they have confidence in. The incumbent says he supports public safety, but his actions speak volumes otherwise. I’m business friendly, but not the kind of business that the incumbent is friendly with. I don’t support business enterprises that degrade our neighborhoods and quality of life.

Residents and businesses want security, peace of mind and success. I see that as a priority. I’ll work hard toward those ends. That’s what a public servant does.

Rich Vitiello is a resident of Maricopa. He is running against Anthony Smith for a seat on the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.

Anthony Smith

By Anthony Smith

In my previous campaigns, I’ve focused on positive messages and sharing my detailed plans for the future.  Unfortunately, some candidates focus on half-truths and inaccuracies, or are just guilty of poor research.  Regardless of the motives, I am writing this opinion piece to correct recent statements my opponent made about my record.

Mr. Vitiello says: On Smith’s watch we saw a medical marijuana distribution center placed in his district over the objections of his constituents.  He voted for it. Did he look to see if the person at the end of that business chain is a convicted criminal wanting to get a license to distribute pot and keep the cash?
FACT:  A medical marijuana distribution center does not exist in Supervisor’s District 4 or anywhere in Pinal County. I’m at a loss for a better explanation.
On a serious note, if Mr. Vitiello knows that a convicted criminal is associated with a medical marijuana facility, I urge him to report this immediately to the Attorney General’s office.

Mr. Vitiello says: Smith accepted a $1,250 campaign contribution from another medical marijuana dispensary applicant in April 2015.  A short time later, he voted to approve that facility just outside the Florence city limits.
FACT:  The vote for this medical marijuana dispensary outside Florence was on June 24, 2015. For this vote I was out of town on vacation and not present at the meeting.  Since I didn’t even participate in the vote, Mr. Vitiello’s accusation that a campaign contribution influenced my vote is unfounded.

Mr. Vitiello says: He OK’ed an open grow marijuana farm in the unincorporated area outside of Casa Grande.
FACT:  Simply put, I voted against creating this medical marijuana grow facility and dispensary.  Also the application for the medical marijuana facility was for an enclosed facility and not an open grow facility.

Mr. Vitiello says: He gave his staff a 28 percent pay raise against county personnel policies.
FACT:  The county staffing system has been broken for years.  In 2013 the Board of Supervisors ordered a study to identify deficiencies in our staffing system.  The study has been completed, and identified numerous deficiencies including the fact that many jobs are under-paid and some are over-paid.

After completing my first year, I determined that my assistant was doing work far beyond what was described in the job description.  The completed Human Resources staffing study set the pay rate for the Assistant to the Board of Supervisors.  My assistant’s salary is in the bottom 25 percent of this range.  Additionally, her first year’s pay was significantly below the study’s assessed starting pay for this position.  According to the results of the Human Resources study, my action back in 2014 was justified.

As long as I am county supervisor, I will continue in my quest to fix the county’s broken systems at every opportunity.  Let’s keep our campaigns focused on what we can do to improve our communities and county and not be purveyors of misinformation and half-truths.

Anthony Smith is the Pinal County supervisor for District 4 and a resident of Maricopa. He is challenged by Rich Vitiello, also of Maricopa, in this year’s election.