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Pinal County

A Hidden Valley man faces charges after a construction worker was shot in the arm on Wednesday.

Ralph Rubin, 66, was charged with endangerment and aggravated assault in the incident, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Rubin barricaded himself in his residence, and deputies worked to talk him out of his home, but he refused, authorities said. Deputies obtained a warrant and were able to successfully take Rubin into custody around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

According to the sheriff’s office, the incident began with a 911 call received shortly before 8 a.m. that reported shots fired in the area of West Robin Road and South Oak Road. The reporting party claimed a man was upset with construction activity taking place near his home.

Deputies responded and found a construction worker in the area had sustained a gunshot wound to the arm, authorities said.

The victim, alert and mobile, was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries and discharged, the sheriff’s office said.

Rubin was booked into the Pinal County jail on the charges and has a July 14 court date.

Vote button

If you haven’t registered yet and plan to vote in the primary election, you don’t have much time.

Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 4 primary election. Registering online at the Service Arizona website may help you meet the deadline.

Early voting runs from July 8-31.

To register to vote, you must meet the following qualifications: have U.S. citizenship, live in Arizona and the county listed on your registration, and be 18 years of age or older on or before the day of the next regular General Election.

For information regarding proof of citizenship and the ability to vote in federal, state, county, and local elections, visit the Proof of Citizenship Requirements page.

You cannot register to vote in Arizona if you have been convicted of a felony and have not yet had your civil rights restored, or if you have been adjudicated incapacitated by a court of law.

To register online, you will need an Arizona driver license and/or an Arizona non-operating I.D. card issued by the Motor Vehicle Division.

If you have trouble logging in to the Service Arizona website, you can print off a Voter Registration Form (pdf) and fill it out with your information. Take the completed form to the County Recorder’s Office, 31 North Pinal Street, Bldg. E, in Florence. You can also fill out a registration form in person at the recorder’s office.

After you have successfully registered to vote, you will receive a voter registration card in the mail within 4-6 weeks.

On a morning when three governors required anyone traveling to their state from Arizona to be self-quarantined for 14 days, Pinal County Board of Supervisors rejected a request to mandate residents wear face coverings in public.

The vote on a resolution encouraging rather than requiring use of face coverings was unanimous, though the debate was animated and emotional. One supervisor tried to insert an amendment that would require a mandate to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The County Attorney’s Office also had its suggestion for mandated face masks in certain circumstances be overruled.

Supervisors also dismissed the opinion of the county health services director by saying available medical opinion was contradictory.

According to board clerk Natasha Kennedy, a total of 424 county residents wrote the board in favor of mandated face coverings while 115 wrote in opposition.

Republican Supervisors Todd House and Mike Goodman said the situation was “all about politics and nothing but politics.”

“We can’t take away personal responsibility,” Goodman said, later adding, “When we mandate and take away individual rights, we are passing a threshold that is very dangerous.”

After hearing from members of the public in person and in writing, the supervisors met in closed session for more than an hour before returning to discuss the issue in public.

Those who wrote in favor of a mandate said residents in the county were ignoring social distancing and did not care about the wellbeing of others. One said the supervisors were refusing to hear the majority. Several compared mandating face coverings to mandating the use of seatbelts.

One spoke of being told to stay home if she was afraid of going out without a mask mandate and said her family had already been at home for months.

“Those who won’t wear masks should stay home,” she wrote. “It’s their turn.”

Those opposed to the mandate argued that masks were dangerous, and a mandate infringed on their rights. They said they would vote against anyone who supported a mandate.

Dr. Shauna McIsaac, who heads the county health services department, said she supported a provision that was ultimately removed from the resolution.

“I strongly believe masks should be mandated,” McIsaac said.

She said the scientific evidence shows wearing a face mask helps limit the spread of COVID-19. Without a vaccine, face masks were the only way for residents to protect themselves in public, she said.

Democrat Supervisor Pete Rios said he voted for the resolution because it was “better than nothing” but wanted a mandate. Rios was the only supervisor to wear a mask in the meeting room. When supervisors removed proposed language that would have created a mandate, he proposed an amendment to add the mandate back in, to no avail.

The supervisors bandied the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, questioning the use and effectiveness of wearing a mask. Fauci had stated March 8 in a “60 Minutes” interview on CBS, “Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” and added they could be contributing to a mask shortage for healthcare workers.

Afterward, as COVID-19 spread and protective equipment more available, Fauci told the investment site TheStreet, “Masks are not 100 percent protective. However, they certainly are better than not wearing a mask.”

Tuesday, Fauci gave the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce his advice: “Plan A, don’t go in a crowd. Plan B, if you do, make sure you wear a mask,” Fauci said.

At Wednesday’s supervisors’ meeting, Chairman Anthony Smith of Maricopa, a Republican, said he wished the medical information was more clear. He also said the sheriff’s office would be overwhelmed with enforcement issues if mask-wearing became a mandate.

The resolution encouraging the use of face coverings in public is applicable to the unincorporated areas of Pinal County.

Text that was added after Friday’s meeting by County Attorney Kent Volkmer but then removed by supervisors today included:
    Face Coverings shall be mandated in the following circumstances:
a. When an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been informed by Pinal County Public Health that they have been in close contact         with someone who as tested positive they are required to wear a Face Covering in public until they no longer test positive or 14 days has lapsed,         which ever shall be applicable;
b. Whenever the public are inside or outside engaging or seeking Pinal County services unless it poses a greater physical or mental health risk           or one’s disability or religious beliefs prevent wearing a Face Covering.

The final text of the county resolution:

RESOLUTION NO.
062420 LSE 02
RESOLUTION OF THE PINAL COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ENCOURAGING MITIGATION EFFORTS IN THE FORM OF FACE COVERINGS

WHEREAS, due to existing cases of COVID-19 within the State of Arizona and community spread of the illness within the State, on March 11, 2020, Governor Douglas A. Ducey declared a state of emergency for Arizona for COVID-19; and,

WHEREAS, multiple cases of COVID-19 have been identified within Pinal County and the situation is rapidly evolving with person-to-person transmission and continued community transmission; and

WHEREAS, the conditions and risk of increased exposures to residents of Pinal County have caused the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to declare a public health emergency; and issue a Declaration of Local State of Emergency on March 20, 2020; and

WHEREAS, A.R.S. § 26-311 authorizes the Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, during such emergency, to govern by proclamation and have the authority to impose all necessary regulations to preserve the peace and order of the county; and

WHEREAS, ON June 17, 2020, Arizona Governor Douglas A. Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-40, Containing the Spread of COVID-19 Continuing Arizona Mitigation Efforts, that allows a county, based on conditions in its jurisdiction, to adopt policies regarding the wearing of Face Coverings in public for the purpose of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and that any enforcement of such policy shall focus first on educating and working to promote best practices to accomplish the goal of mitigation and that individuals be given an opportunity to comply prior to any enforcement action being taken; and

WHEREAS, the CDC and the ADHS continue to update their guidance for prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 with additional information to help individuals make better decisions about going out while preventing and mitigating the spread of the virus; and

WHEREAS, published June 11, 2020, the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America concluded “wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic,”; and

WHEREAS, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors recognize that it is critical to also maintain six-feet physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, the use of Face Coverings, as recommended by the CDC and the ADHS, can further aid in slowing the spread of the virus permitting offices, businesses, venues and activities in Pinal County to remain open; and

WHEREAS, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors adopts the Requirements for Businesses issued in conjunction with Executive Order 2020-40, issued June 17, 2020 (attached hereto as Exhibit A).

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that a public health emergency continues to exist necessitating the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to adopt the following policy and order applicable in unincorporated Pinal County, encouraging Face Coverings to be worn if six-feet of physical distance can not be maintained in public effective June 25, 2020.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

  1. “Face Covering” means a covering made of cloth, fabric or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face, or a full plastic face shield. A covering that hides or obscures the wearer’s eyes or forehead is not a Face Covering.

  2. All members of the public are highly encouraged to, wear a Face Covering in the following situations:
    a. When they are boarding or riding on public transportation or paratransit or are in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle. (This Resolution does not require any person to wear a Face Covering while driving alone, or exclusively with other members of the same family or household, in a motor vehicle).

  3. All Pinal County Departments and Elected Officials, contractors and volunteers are encouraged to:
    a.
    Require their employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers to wear a Face Covering at the workplace or when performing work off-site any time the employee, contractor, owner or volunteer is:
    i.
    interacting in person with any member of the public;
       ii. working in any space visited by members of the public,
    iii. working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
    b.
    Take reasonable measures, such as posting signs, to remind their customers and the public that they wear a Face Covering while inside of or waiting in line to enter the facility, or location.
    c.
    Public Safety Employees and Detention Officers are not required to wear a Face Covering while on duty, unless required by the Sheriff.

  4. It is recommended that children under two years or younger not wear a Face Covering.

  5. Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, are encouraged to wear a face covering when they are unable to maintain six-feet distance from others. (This Resolution does not recommend any person to wear a Face Covering while swimming).

  6. Persons working alone in separate office spaces or in non-public workplaces where there is not more than adequate physical distancing area, based on the size and number of people in the space (indoors and out of doors) are encouraged to wear a Face Covering.

  7. When wearing a Face Covering or mask poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk, such as anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance, the wearing of Face Covering will not be required. A person who declines to wear a Face Covering because of a medical condition or whose religious beliefs prevent the wearing of a Face Covering shall not be required to produce documentation verifying the condition, or belief. Persons who are hearing impaired or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication shall not be required to wear a Face Covering.

  8. When eating or drinking in public at a restaurant, bar, or other food or beverage establishment a Face Covering is encouraged where individuals are unable to maintain a distance of six-feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence. A mask or Face Covering is encouraged to be worn when entering or exiting any such establishment.
  9. Any enforcement of this Resolution shall focus first on educating and working to promote best practices to accomplish the goal of mitigation. Before any enforcement action is taken, a person shall be notified and given an opportunity to comply.

  10. This Resolution shall remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 Pinal County Local State of Emergency or until lawfully amended or terminated.

Property taxes are in a generally downward trend, but there is still uncertainty in local budgets. That is causing finance experts to calculate zero revenue growth in building budgets.

The City of Maricopa and Pinal County are dropping their tax rates as the overall tax levy increases. Maricopa Unified School District expects its secondary tax rate to decrease while the primary rate rises.

With economic and population growth, even through COVID-19, the City’s lax levy is gaining about $190,000. That is allowing the city to lower its primary tax rate from 4.7845 to 4.6309 and its secondary rate from 1.1871 to 0.9348.

The county is planning to drop its primary property tax rate from 3.79 to 3.75 when rates are adopted in August. Angie Woods, director of Management & Budget, said it was a huge effort by the county to meet goals of bringing down the tax rate. The budget, she said, was built with an eye on the pandemic.

“Our local excise tax and state shared tax revenues were built in as flat,” Woods told supervisors this month.

She said April revenue numbers were better than projected.

“Very, very positive numbers for the month of April,” she said in a supervisors’ meeting this month. “Very surprising.”

MUSD’s governing board will discuss its proposed budget at its meeting today. The district’s secondary tax rate, which pays for the voter-approved override and bonds, is scheduled to fall from 2.5557 to 2.5327 for fiscal year 2020-21. The primary rate, however, may rise from 4.2475 to 5.2256, as previously reported. Without the addition of an Adjacent Ways levy for the second high school, the primary rate would have decreased about a cent.

The budget is based on the estimated 100-day average daily membership. That has grown from 979 in 2016 to 1,593 in 2020.

“Before the COVID-19, closure I was projecting a growth of 340 ADM,” Finance Director Jacob Harmon said during an earlier meeting. “Since there are so many unknowns due to the changes in the world and our economy, we’ve decided to build the budget based on zero growth so we can be prepared for worst-case scenarios.”

Though the district is receiving funding through the CARES Act, estimated at $1 million, how far it will stretch is a question.

“I have a strong feeling, based on different information we’ve seen in trends in other states, other districts, that the expense of reopening is probably going to outweigh the CARES money,” Harmon told the board.

The governing board meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. and can be viewed live on the district’s YouTube channel.

Maricopa City Council
Maricopa City Council: clockwise from top left: Councilmember Rich Vitiello, Vice Mayor Nancy Smith, Councilmember Vincent Manfredi, Councilwoman Julia Gusse, Councilmember Henry Wade, Mayor Christian Price and Councilmember Marvin Brown. (Maricopa City photo)

City of Maricopa
39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
520-568-9098
Maricopa-AZ.gov

 

Mayor
Christian Price
520-316-6821
Christian.Price@Maricopa-AZ.gov

City Council
Vice Mayor Nancy Smith
520-316-6822
Nancy.Smith@Maricopa-AZ.gov

Councilmember Marvin L. Brown
520-316-2020
Marvin.Brown@Maricopa-AZ.gov

Councilwoman Julia Gusse
520-568-9098
Julia.Gusse@Maricopa-AZ.gov

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi
520-316-6823
Vincent.Manfredi@Maricopa-AZ.gov

Councilmember Rich Vitiello
520-316-6826
rich.vitiello@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Henry Wade
520-316-6825
Henry.Wade@Maricopa-AZ.gov

 

Maricopa Unified School District
44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy.
520-568-5100
MUSD20.org

Governing Board
President AnnaMarie Knorr
AKnorr@musd20.org

Vice President Ben Owens
BOwens@musd20.org

Member Torri Anderson
TorriAnderson@musd20.org

Member Patti Coutré
PCoutre@musd20.org

Member James Jordan
JJordan@musd20.org

 

Maricopa Flood Control District
480-980-0531

Board of Directors
President Dan Frank
Secretary Brad Hinton
Member Scott Kelly

maricopafcd.com/contact-us/

 

Pinal County

Sheriff
Mark Lamb
971 Jason Lopez Circle, Building C, Florence
520-866-5997
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Sheriff

County Attorney
Kent Volkmer
30 N. Florence St, Building D, Florence
520-866-6271
PinalCountyAttorney@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/CountyAttorney

Justice of the Peace – Precinct 4 (Western Pinal)
Lyle Riggs
19955 N. Wilson Ave.
520-866-3999
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Judicial

Constable – Precinct 8 (Western Pinal)
Glenn Morrison
19955 N. Wilson Ave.
520-840-5294
Glenn.Morrison@pinal.gov

Assessor
Douglas Wolf
31 N. Pinal St, Building E, Florence
520-866-6353
Assessor@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Assessor

Recorder
Virginia Ross
31 N. Pinal St, Building E, Florence
520-866-6830
Recorder@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Recorder

Board of Supervisors
135 N. Pinal St, Building A, Florence
520-866-6220
PinalCountyAZ.gov/BOS

Supervisor Anthony Smith [District 4, Maricopa]
41600 W. Smith-Enke Road, Suite 128
520-866-3960
Anthony.Smith@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Pete Rios [District 1]
520-866-7830
Pete.Rios@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Mike Goodman [District 2]
520-866-8080
Mike.Goodman@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Stephen Miller [District 3]
520-866-7401
Steve.Miller@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Todd House [District 5]
480-982-0659
Todd.House@PinalCountyAZ.gov

 

Central Arizona College (Pinal County Community College District) Governing Board
8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge
800-237-9814
CentralAZ.edu

Member Dan Miller [District 4 – Maricopa]
Dan.Miller2@CentralAZ.edu

President Gladys Christensen [District 1]
Gladys.Christensen@CentralAZ.edu

Member David Odiorne [District 2]
David.Odiorne@CentralAZ.edu

Member Rick Gibson [District 3]
Rick.Gibson@CentralAZ.edu

Member Dave Waldron
David.Waldron@CentralAZ.edu

 

State of Arizona

Governor
Doug Ducey
1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix
602-542-4331
Engage@AZ.gov
AZGovernor.gov

State Legislators
Vince Leach – State Senator – District 11
1700 W. Washington St, Room 303, Phoenix
602-926-3106
VLeach@AZLeg.gov
AZLeg.gov

Mark Finchem – State Representative – District 11
1700 W. Washington St, Room 310, Phoenix
602-926-3122
MFinchem@AZLeg.gov
AZLeg.gov

Bret Roberts – State Representative – District 11
1700 W. Washington St, Room 344, Phoenix
602-926-3158

BRoberts@AZLeg.gov
AZLeg.gov

Secretary of State
Katie Hobbs
1700 W. Washington St., 7th Floor, Phoenix
1-800-458-5842
AZSOS.gov

Attorney General
Mark Brnovich
1275 W. Washington St., Phoenix
602-542-5025
AZAG.gov

State Treasurer
Kimberly Yee
1700 W. Washington St, 1st Floor, Phoenix
602-542-7800
AZTreasury.gov

State Mine Inspector
Joe Hart
1700 W. Washington St, 4th Floor, Phoenix
602-542-5971
ASMI.AZ.gov

State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Kathy Hoffman
1535 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix
800-352-4558
questions@azed.gov
AZED.gov/superintendent

Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington St, Commissioners Wing, 2nd Floor, Phoenix
AZCC.gov

Chairman Bob Burns
602-542-3682
rburns-web@AZCC.gov

Commissioner Boyd W. Dunn
602-542-3935
dunn-web@AZCC.gov

Chairman Sandra Kennedy
602-542-3933
SDKennedy-Web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson
602-542-3625
lmarquezpeterson-web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Justin Olson
602-542-0745
Olson-web@azcc.gov

 

U.S. Congress

Tom O’Halleran –  U.S. Representative – U.S. House District 1
324 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
202-225-3361
211 N. Florence St, Suite 1, Casa Grande
520-316-0839
3037 W. Ina Road, Suite 101, Tucson
928-304-0131
OHalleran.House.gov

Kyrsten Sinema – U.S. Senator
317 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C.
202-224-4521
3333 E. Camelback Rd, Suite 200, Phoenix
602-598-7327
20 E. Ochoa St., Tucson
520-639-7080
Sinema.senate.gov

Martha McSally – U.S. Senator
404 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
202-224-2235
2201 E. Camelback Road, Suite 115, Phoenix
602-952-2410
407 W. Congress St., Suite 103, Tucson
520-670-6334
McSally.Senate.gov

 

President of the United States
Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
Phone (White House Switchboard): 202-456-1111
Phone (Comments): 202-456-1414
Phone (TTY/TTD): 202-456-6213
Phone (Visitors Office): 202-456-2121
WhiteHouse.gov


2020 is an election year. For updated elected official information, visit https://www.inmaricopa.com/newresidentguide/

A motorist stopped for allegedly driving erratically was booked into jail after police discovered two unpaid warrants in his name.

Stephen Richards was observed driving about 11:15 a.m. on June 20 on West Maricopa Casa Grande Highway, according to a police report. He was told by an officer he would be issued a citation for his driving behavior, police said.

Subsequently, two confirmed warrants came back for Richards, who was arrested by police.

Police provided payment information to Richard’s girlfriend, identified as Jasmine Honeycutt, but she was unable to settle the amounts owed on the warrants, police said.

Richards was booked into Pinal County Jail on the warrants, police said.

According to Pinal County’s online inmate search, Richards is no longer being held at the facility.

Unincorporated areas of Pinal County are the aim of a resolution "highly encouraging" the use of face masks where social distancing is difficult.

 

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pinal County is 2,459, and the Board of Supervisors is making a second attempt to take a stand on face mask use.

In another special meeting, planned for Wednesday, supervisors are expected to “highly encourage” the populace of unincorporated areas to wear face masks in public. Last Friday, when the number of cases was 1,911, the board reworked a resolution after hearing from more than a hundred residents. They gave themselves another week to review it. The resolution is similar to policy put in place in the City of Maricopa.

Though receiving 34 letters in opposition to a mandate to wear face masks and 119 in favor, the four Republicans on the board were seeking to issue a request rather than a requirement. The proposed resolution adopts a policy of encouraging face mask use.

“I can count,” Democrat Pete Rios said at the time. “Even though I would want to require the use of face masks, it’d be a 4-1 tire track on my back.”

The board had considered a resolution for all of Pinal County, but the final draft considered this week applies to the unincorporated areas.

The updated resolution going to the board this week includes a reference to guidance in Gov. Doug Ducey’s Executive Order 40. That itself is a reference to guidance, not mandates, from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, asking businesses to require the use of face masks if social distancing is not feasible.

The resolution states it will be in effect “for the duration of the COVID-19 Pinal County Public Health Emergency” that was declared by the board. Supervisor Stephen Miller questioned the vagueness of that timeline last week.

In response, Dr. Shauna McIsaac, director of the county’s Public Health Services, said the goal is to achieve 60%-70% immunity, either through antibodies in those who have had the virus or vaccines for those who have not. A vaccine, she said, may take up to 18 months to develop and get to market.

“So, we’re wearing masks for two years now?” Miller asked.

“Absolutely,” McIsaac replied.

She said there is currently a lack of effective antibody testing, something the University of Arizona is trying to remedy.

Residents who wrote to the board in favor of mandating masks said it was a common-sense measure that would mitigate the spread of the virus. Wearing masks protects others, one wrote, while another said a mandate was a small but effective thing to ask. The virus, one wrote, “is a health issue, not a political one.”

Those opposed to a mandate said it would cause many community conflicts as “Karens” try to turn in anyone they thought was in violation. They called a requirement “excessive” and causing unnecessary fear.

After the supervisors made changes to the resolution (though not changing the title, which references a mandate), they scheduled this week’s meeting and possible executive session on the matter.

 

TEXT OF THE PROPOSED PINAL COUNTY RESOLUTION:

RESOLUTION NO. 061920-LSE-03

RESOLUTION OF THE PINAL COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MANDATING MITIGATION EFFORTS IN THE FORM OF FACE COVERINGS

WHEREAS, due to existing cases of COVID-19 within the State of Arizona and community spread of the illness within the State, on March 11, 2020, Governor Douglas A. Ducey declared a state of emergency for Arizona for COVID-19; and,

WHEREAS, multiple cases of COVID-19 have been identified within Pinal County and the situation is rapidly evolving with person-to-person transmission and continued community transmission; and

WHEREAS, the conditions and risk of increased exposures to residents of Pinal County have caused the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to declare a public health emergency; and issue a Declaration of Local Health Emergency on March 20, 2020; and

WHEREAS, A.R.S. § 26-311 authorizes the Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, during such emergency, to govern by proclamation and have the authority to impose all necessary regulations to preserve the peace and order of the county; and

WHEREAS, ON June 17, 2020, Arizona Governor Douglas A. Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-40, Containing the Spread of COVID-19 Continuing Arizona Mitigation Efforts, that allows a county, based on conditions in its jurisdiction, to adopt policies regarding the wearing of Face  coverings in public for the purpose of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and that any enforcement of such policy shall focus first on educating and working to promote best practices to accomplish the goal of mitigation and that individuals be given an opportunity to comply prior to any enforcement action being taken; and

WHEREAS, the CDC and the ADHS continue to update their guidance for prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 with additional information to help individuals make better decisions about going out while preventing and mitigating the spread of the virus; and

WHEREAS, published June 11, 2020, the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America concluded “wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic,”; and

WHEREAS, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors recognize that it is critical to also maintain 6-feet physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, but the use of Face Coverings, as recommended by the CDC and the ADHS, can further aid in slowing the spread of the virus permitting offices, businesses, venues and activities in Pinal County to remain open; and

WHEREAS, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors adopts the Requirements for Businesses issued in conjunction with Executive Order 2020-40, issued June 17, 2020.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that a public health emergency continues to exist necessitating the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to adopt the following policy and order applicable in unincorporated Pinal County, encouraging Face Coverings to be worn in public effective June 19, 2020.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

  1. “Face Covering” means a covering made of cloth, fabric or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face, or a full plastic face shield. A covering that hides or obscures the wearer’s eyes or forehead is not a Face Covering.
  2. All members of the public are highly encouraged to, wear a Face Covering in the following situations:
    a. When they are inside or outside any location or facility seeking or receiving Pinal County Government Services;
    b. When they are boarding or riding on public transportation or paratransit or are in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle. (This Resolution does not require any person to wear a Face Covering while driving alone, or exclusively
    with other members of the same family or household, in a motor vehicle).
  3. All Pinal County Departments and Elected Officials, contractors and volunteers are encouraged to:
    a. Require their employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers to wear a Face Covering at the workplace or when performing work off-site any time the employee, contractor, owner or volunteer is:
        i. interacting in person with any member of the public;
    ii.
    working in any space visited by members of the public,
        iii. working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
    b.
    Take reasonable measures, such as posting signs, to remind their customers and the public that they wear a Face Covering while inside of or waiting in line to enter the facility, or location.
    c. Public Safety Employees and Detention Officers are not required to wear a Face Covering while on duty, unless required by the Sheriff.
  4. It is recommended that children under two years or younger not wear a Face Covering.
  5. Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling or running, are encouraged to wear a face covering when they are unable to maintain six feet distance from others.
  6. Persons working alone in separate office spaces or in non-public workplaces where there is not more than adequate physical distancing area, based on the size and number of people in the space (indoors and out of doors) are encouraged to wear a Face Covering.
  7. When wearing a Face Covering or mask poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk, such as anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance, the wearing of Face Covering will not be required. A person who declines to wear a Face Covering because of a medical condition or whose religious beliefs prevent the wearing of a Face Covering shall not be required to produce documentation verifying the condition, or belief. Persons who are hearing impaired or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication shall not be required to wear a Face Covering.
  8. When eating or drinking in public at a restaurant, bar, or other food or beverage establishment a Face Covering is encouraged where individuals are unable to maintain a distance of six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence. A mask or Face Covering is encouraged to be worn when entering or exiting any such establishment.
  9. Any enforcement of this Resolution shall focus first on educating and working to promote best practices to accomplish the goal of mitigation. Before any enforcement action is taken, a person shall be notified and given an opportunity to comply.
  10. This Resolution shall remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 Pinal County Public Health Emergency or until lawfully amended or terminated.

Maricopa protest
Protesters hold signs as traffic passes Monday night on John Wayne Parkway. Dozens and dozens of motorists honked horns and yelled words of support. Photo by Bob McGovern

They carried signs and they were going to be heard.

The 30-or-so people who joined together Monday night on the sidewalk at John Wayne Parkway and West Edison Road, near the IHOP restaurant, chanted “No justice, no peace” to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Earlier coverage: NAACP urges residents: Stay home from ‘protest’ tonight

The peaceful hour-long gathering, coming after days of protest and unrest in cities across the nation in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, was boosted by dozens of vehicles and a Shamrock Farms tanker truck passing by, their occupants honking horns and screaming their support to the sidewalk.

One black sedan drove by with a BLM sign. A few minutes later, a pickup truck roared past, a Trump 2020 flag held out from the passenger window.

Many in the crowd, composed mostly of young men and women, screamed through face masks and held their handwritten signs high with vinyl gloves. Many declined to be interviewed by the media.

The signs read: “I cannot breathe,” “Count others more significant than yourselves” and “We the People Say Black Lives Matter.” One sign held by a woman had 18 names on it, all people of color who died in incidents with law enforcement, with the words “no conviction” next to each name.

Van Cooper Jr., 34, a Maricopa resident and special education teacher in Tempe, said he wanted to take part in a peaceful protest.

People need to spend less time on hatred, he said. But the problem with law enforcement’s treatment of African American men is real, he said.

“It’s been going on for years,” Cooper said, mentioning Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American shot to death in February 2012 by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. “It’s sad that it takes a video for people to see what is going on.”

Steve Stahl Henry Wade Kneel
Maricopa police Chief Steve Stahl puts his arm around Councilmember Henry Wade Jr., at center, as they symbolically kneel with others on the sidewalk during Monday night’s protest. Photo by Bob McGovern

The protest started a couple minutes before 7 p.m., with police gathered 50 yards away in the IHOP parking lot. A half-hour later, Maricopa police Chief Steve Stahl walked out to join the crowd, saying hello to some, bumping elbows with others. At one point he joined City Councilmember Henry Wade Jr. and others in a symbolic gesture, getting down on one knee to remember the reason they were all there. Floyd died after a Minneapolis officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The scene was captured on video by a passerby.

“This is just a segment of Maricopa that wants to come out, be heard,” Stahl said. “It’s what I’m supposed to do, listen.”

Stahl said he had seen the video of Floyd’s arrest by four officers in the Minnesota capital, and disgust was in his voice.

“It is one of the more horrific acts of violence that I have ever seen, and I condemn what I saw,” he said shortly after the rally had broken up. “I’ve talked to our police officers in Maricopa, they feel the same way. This is not what law enforcement is representative of.”

One de facto leader, DJ Kali of Maricopa, a youth coordinator for the NAACP, said he attended to lend support and make sure everybody was safe. As darkness crept in, he thanked the crowd on the sidewalk for its support. “You don’t have to be black to love black,” he told them, before encouraging everybody to respect the 8 p.m. curfew.

Maricopa protest Black Lives Matter
Protesters hold signs during Monday night’s gathering on the sidewalk near the IHOP restaurant at the Edison Pointe shopping center. Photo by Bob McGovern

The protesters left as they came – peacefully. They could be heard planning two gatherings on Tuesday – one on the same corner in the morning and another at City Hall in the evening for a City Council meeting.

Earlier in the day, the NAACP of Pinal County had urged residents not to participate in the event after a flyer began circulating on social media.

“The Pinal County NAACP has not been able to confirm that this is a legitimate gathering or whom the organizers are,” said the statement, signed by Constance Hunsberger Jackson, chapter president and city resident. “We have seen reports of nefarious characters of ill intent who seek to sow division during these troubling times all over the county. In an effort to keep our community safe we are asking people to stay home and not participate in this event.”

Maricopa Police Department vehicles sit in the parking lot of the IHOP restaurant around 5:30 p.m. Monday. A flyer circulating on social media promoted a protest near the restaurant at 7 p.m. today. Photo by Kyle Norby

The NAACP of Pinal County is urging residents not to participate in a “day of community support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing revolution” planned for 7 tonight in Maricopa.

A flyer circulated on social media promotes gatherings tonight and at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the corner of John Wayne Parkway and West Edison Road near the IHOP restaurant.

Headlined “SUPPORT EDUCATE DONATE,” it reads: “We will walk up the main street on public property and pass out handouts of resources for people to educate themselves and donate to others.” The flyer, which reminds participants to practice social distancing and wear face masks, does not include the word “protest.” No organizing body is mentioned on the flyer.

In a statement posted on Facebook late Monday afternoon, the NAACP asked people to stay home from the event, which it called a protest.

“The Pinal County NAACP has not been able to confirm that this is a legitimate gathering or whom the organizers are,” said the statement, signed by Constance Hunsberger Jackson, chapter president and city resident. “We have seen reports of nefarious characters of ill intent who seek to sow division during these troubling times all over the county. In an effort to keep our community safe we are asking people to stay home and not participate in this event.”

The legitimacy of the event could not be independently confirmed by InMaricopa.

There was a small police presence at the IHOP on Monday evening 90 minutes before the event was scheduled to take place. The restaurant remains closed from the stay at home order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The NAACP is planning its own solidarity event and said more details are forthcoming. It also offered some advice to those considering joining a protest.

“Please know we support any efforts at peaceful protest, so please be sure if you so choose to attend any protest: research and know the organizers, stay safe at all times, make sure you have ID with you, and know your rights.

“Please take care of yourselves and others,” the organization said.

The Maricopa Police Department sent out a tweet that linked to the NAACP’s Facebook post.

Curfew begins in Arizona after recent violence

Quiet first night of statewide curfew in Maricopa, Pinal

Police told InMaricopa they are not releasing any further information.

The state is under a week-long curfew that began Sunday night. It was part of a Declaration of Emergency declared by Gov. Doug Ducey in an effort to prevent the looting and violence seen in Phoenix and other U.S. cities in recent days.

The curfew, in effect daily from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., is set to expire on June 8.

Ducey tweeted Sunday afternoon that he was taking action at the request of local leaders and in coordination with state and local law enforcement.

This is a developing story.

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Mike Cruz

Michael “Mike” Cruz is running for Pinal County assessor this year, challenging incumbent Douglas Wolf in the Republican primary.

Age: 34
Residence: Casa Grande
Years in Pinal County: 5
Family: Married to my beautiful wife Felicia of five years and we have one dog.
Education: Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Business & Education), Arizona State University;
Master of Business Administration, Everest University
Employment background: I have seven years of tax and accounting experience as a tax adviser with a large national tax firm. In addition, I have four years of experience in technology training & sales. My most recent experience includes four years as a public school teacher and public information officer.
Government background: All of my experience has been in the private sector. Working for a public school system in my current capacity has provided me valuable experience in terms of government relations and management.

Why are you the best person for the job of county assessor?
I am an Arizona native who is committed to this state and this county. Given my background in taxation and public relations, I am the only candidate with this skill set, which uniquely qualifies me to lead this office and to represent the true voice of Pinal County. As a public relations professional, I intend to use that experience to reach the people of Pinal County and to provide the best in class service to our taxpayers.

What are the biggest issues at stake in the campaign?
Property Owner Voice – This office needs a leader that is willing to work with everyone and be actively engaged in all the communities in this county. A higher level of communication and transparency is needed to ensure taxpayers have access to the information they need and can do business as they want.

County Growth – Pinal County is growing at a rapid rate. We need a leader that will work with everyone to ensure all land and property is prepared to meet tomorrow’s demands in a sustainable manner.

Land classification – Due to a myriad of issues specific to Pinal County, such as limited water supply and land development, the assessor’s office is critical to ensure long-term prosperity for businesses and property owners in this county which is essential for jobs and the economy.

How do you earn the trust of the residents of Pinal County?
I earn the trust of residents by listening to the people of this county and building relationships with communities. I have participated in many events to meet voters and engage them at a personal level. From the Pacana Park Pumpkin Walk to the annual Maricopa Salsa Festival, I have been present and accessible to ensure the voice of Maricopa is represented.


This item appears, in part, in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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Pinal County Assessor Douglas Wolf

Douglas Wolf  has been Pinal County assessor since 2012 and is up for re-election this year, facing a Republican primary challenge from Mike Cruz.

Age: 64
Residence:  Unincorporated area in southern Pinal County
Years in Pinal County: 12
Family: Married to Gloria, two adult children
Education: BS in Business Administration, minor in Mass Communications University of Minnesota
Employment background: Self-employed business owner for 35 years in real estate and computer software consulting prior to being elected
Government background: Elected in 2012 to Office of Assessor and re-elected in 2016

Why are you the best person for the job?
I am the two-term incumbent assessor and was elected president of the Arizona Association of Assessors 2019. My 35 years of private sector business experience in residential and commercial real estate, and computer software matches perfectly with the duties of the office.

What are the biggest issues at stake in the campaign for assessor?
The choice for the voters is whether to support an experienced, proven, effective and fair person to continue as assessor. Also, I refuse any campaign donations as it is my belief that contributors expect something in return. Any money spent in this campaign is my own.

Pinal County is positioned to be the preferred destination for many new and exciting businesses as evidenced by Nikola and Lucid Motors and the Nacero natural gas plant. These new, vibrant businesses will generate jobs, and property taxes, reducing taxes for homeowners.

How do you earn the trust of the residents of Pinal County?
By continuing to treat everyone fairly and equitably as prescribed by the law. The assessor takes two oaths of office. One oath is identical to all other elected officials, the second (ARS 11-542) pertains to fair and equal valuations. I take my oaths very seriously and strive daily to meet their requirements. Everyone who contacts my office is treated the exactly the same and that will continue if I am re-elected as I am not obligated to any special interests.


This item appears, in part, in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa City Council
Maricopa City Council: clockwise from top left: Councilmember Rich Vitiello, Vice Mayor Nancy Smith, Councilmember Vincent Manfredi, Councilwoman Julia Gusse, Councilmember Henry Wade, Mayor Christian Price and Councilmember Marvin Brown. (Maricopa City photo)
After cities and counties protested, with Pinal County going so far as to start a lawsuit, Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday announced distribution of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds across the state.
That includes nearly $6 million for the City of Maricopa and $27.2 million for Pinal County to mitigate the expenses of responding to COVID-19.
A portion of the money is for reimbursement of Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) costs, but the larger portion is flexible funding. Ducey said he had heard the concerns of many leaders across the state.
“Our office has met with mayors and county leaders to hear directly how COVID-19 is impacting their communities, and this plan delivers for them,” Ducey said in his prepared statement.
Anthony Smith, chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, which met in executive session today before the announcement, said they had the lawsuit paperwork in their hands ready to file when they received the notification late this afternoon. The board had voted to sue the U.S. Department of the Treasury to force a clarification of its guidelines that would require Ducey to distribute the funds.
Smith said the county had a detailed spreadsheet of the FEMA costs incurred by its response to the coronavirus. He said the county already has $10 million in costs, primarily for public health and public safety.
“And the crisis is not over yet,” he said.
“As leaders of rural communities, we often face unique challenges in the administration of healthcare and government services,” Mayor Christian Price said in the statement from the Governor’s Office. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges. I’m grateful for the governor’s thoughtful approach in allocating these resources and for giving us the maximum flexibility in how we can use these dollars to meet the needs of our citizens.”
Cities and counties must still discuss how the funds will be spent.
Smith said the county supervisors will meet next week to review the incoming funds and related requirements. Because municipalities in the county are receiving direct funding, some of that responsibility is lifted from the county.
“While we hoped Pinal County would receive a little more, we are grateful to the governor for the amount of money we will receive,” Smith said.
According to the Governor’s Office, the plan includes $441 million in direct, flexible funding to local cities, towns and counties that did not receive direct funding earlier this year. It will be distributed through the state’s AZCares Fund. Distribution is based on 2019 census data.
Arizona received $2.8 billion. City and counties with population over 500,000 could receive their money directly from the federal government.
Maricopa County, Pima County and the cities of Phoenix, Mesa and Tucson received about $1 billion all together. That left the state with $1.9 billion.
Today’s announcement provided $591 million to the rest of the counties and cities, including $150 million in direct FEMA funds.


Arizona Express Pay Program
Gov. Doug Ducey also launched the Arizona Express Pay Program, streamlining the application process for accessing public assistance from FEMA. Eligible entities include local governments, tribal communities, state agencies, nonprofit hospitals, nonprofit long-term care, skilled nursing and assisted living providers, school districts, charter school organizations, and fire districts. The program expedites delivery of resources for eligible projects related to COVID-19 response efforts and will be managed by the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA).
As part of the program, the Governor’s Office will provide $150 million to expedite FEMA reimbursement requests, helping get needed relief dollars to local entities faster.
For more information about the public assistance initiative and grant opportunities for Arizona local governments, tribal communities and nonprofit organizations, including a step-by-step application process, visit ArizonaTogether.org.

Amanda Stanford Pinal County
Amanda Stanford resigned in April from her position as Pinal County Clerk of the Superior Court. Photo courtesy of Pinal County Clerk of Superior Court Office

The search for an interim appointee as Pinal County Clerk of Superior Court has been extended.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will fill the vacancy created by the April 26 resignation of Amanda Stanford, a Republican elected as clerk of the court. She took office in January 2015.

Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on May 29 for the $63,800 position. A copy of the application and instructions for applying can be downloaded at www.bc.azgovernor.gov.

To qualify for appointment, applicants must be eligible to vote, a resident of Pinal County, and a registered Republican.

The Governor’s Office will review applications and interview qualified applicants in order for Ducey to make an interim appointment, until a clerk can be elected during the next regular general election in 2022.

The office of the Clerk of the Superior Court maintains the accuracy and integrity of judicial records for the Pinal County Superior Court.

Pinal County of Supervisors (from left) Pete Rios, Anthony Smith, Mike Goodman, Stephen Miller and Todd House

Railing against Gov. Doug Ducey, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors is preparing a lawsuit against the federal government.

Right now our governor is systematically choosing to exclude 25% of our entire state’s population and effectively saying, ‘You don’t matter.’

At issue is the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s wording in its written guidance for distributing Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds. By using the word “may” instead of “shall,” the guidance allows governors to distribute funds almost any way they like.

Arizona received $2.8 billion. City and counties with population over 500,000 could receive their money directly from the federal government. Maricopa County, Pima County and the cities of Phoenix, Mesa and Tucson received about $1 billion all together. Ducey is allotting the other $1.9 billion to the state coffers.

Supervisors were furious that Pinal, which has a population of about 463,000, and 12 other counties are receiving nothing at this point. County leaders say they have also received little personal response from the Governor’s Office. Pinal County’s government expenses to battle coronavirus was estimated at just under $8 million.

The board, composed of four Republicans and one Democrat, met in a special meeting Friday. To a man, they expressed frustration and anger at Ducey, a Republican.

“Time’s up,” said Supervisor Todd House. “We gave him his chance.”

Though he said he usually favors negotiation over litigation, the state has been dismissive of Pinal County and its growth as an “economic powerhouse.”

CARES Act funding is not to be a tool to balance the state’s budget.

Chairman Anthony Smith, Maricopa, said he was “troubled” by the governor saying the state has a “revenue and budget problem.” Smith said that sounded too much like the state may be moving toward sweeping some of the CARES funds for state budget, as has happened in the past to highway funding and education funding during the recession.

“CARES Act funding is not to be a tool to balance the state’s budget,” Smith said.

Supervisor Mike Goodman said residents and municipalities are hurting, and he had to stand up for them. He said there are indications half a million people may be unemployed over the next two months.

“I’m all in on this one,” he said. “Politics set aside, I don’t care. We need to move forward.”

Before discussing the issue, the supervisors heard several government leaders, business owners and nonprofit organizations explaining their needs and the long rolls of red tape needed to go through the federal process of getting CARES funds. They asked for help from the county to ease that process.

This is a nice, big wound that we’ve got to heal.

Wendy Webb, executive director of F.O.R. Maricopa, said the food bank has seen 40% more people over the past couple of weeks. She said they knew they were “a little bit behind” in resources before the pandemic hit, but COVID-19 has exposed how much F.O.R. really lacks.

Wanting to provide fresh vegetables and fruit, Webb went shopping in local grocery aisles, becoming fast friends with 99-Cent stores and Dollar Trees in the process. She said F.O.R. Maricopa spent thousands of dollars on paper products and cleaning products, masks and gloves for clients unable to get out.

And the end it is not in sight.

“This is a nice, big wound that we’ve got to heal,” Webb said.

After it was announced hundreds of thousands of dollars were going to the state’s food banks, she said it became apparent that money was going only to three main food banks – St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, Feeding America and United Food Bank. There are no distribution centers for the funds in Pinal County.

Webb described the process of applying to United, including a 33-page form and the requirement to turn over their data.

Maricopa Vice Mayor Nancy Smith, who put together the city committee known as Copa Cares 2020, which puts much of its focus on F.O.R. Maricopa, said dealing with United required significant hoops to jump through and red tape to get around. And the government itself was no easy task.

“As soon as the governor announced $1 million to help with food supply, we were on top of it,” she said.

This whole thing, I knew it was going to be a disaster.

They filled out the paperwork, supplying the information about F.O.R. Maricopa’s current and expected needs, and filed everything as requested.

“We never heard from them,” Nancy Smith said. “Five weeks later I’m asking the question, ‘OK, what’s become of this?’”

She was redirected to United Food Bank and still has not received funds.

Supervisor Steve Miller said businesses will start “dropping like flies” soon. He said the CARES funds should go directly to businesses and employees around the state so they don’t have to burden the unemployment rolls.

“This whole thing, I knew it was going to be a disaster,” Miller said.

Supervisor Pete Rios, the lone Democrat, said he was cautious about a lawsuit. “That may be a helluva long time,” he said. After the supervisors met in executive session with County Attorney Kent Volkmer, Rios voted with the rest of the board to go forward with suing the Treasury Department.

In open session, Volkmer said his office could prove the federal guidance was arbitrary and should not have given state leaders such leeway. By his calculations, if Pinal County were to be treated to the same formula as Maricopa County based on population, Pinal would receive more than $69 million.

Volkmer, a Republican, said the Governor’s Office would not respond to requests for a conversation on the issue. “We were rebuffed.”

He also virtually called Ducey a bully after saying the county wants to continue to appeal to his “sense of righteousness.”

“If he’s gonna be a bully, you’ve got to punch a bully in the face,” Volkmer said.

He said other unfunded counties are welcome to come on board the suit.

The unanimous vote to sue the Treasury Department includes an amendment sending a letter to the governor and local legislators explaining the decision.

“I believe the message we are sending is, every Arizonan counts,” Volkmer said. “Not just those that live in Maricopa County; not just those that live in Pima County, but every single person that lives in the state of Arizona matters. They count and have the right to be treated fairly. And right now our governor is systematically choosing to exclude 25% of our entire state’s population and effectively saying, ‘You don’t matter.’”

Sally was found as a stray in Maricopa and put into foster care when no owner was found. (Beyond the Mask Photography)

The City of Maricopa plans to fund a city-designated animal control officer starting in July.

The officer is currently shared between Pinal County and the City of Maricopa. The budget change is in response to the growing community and animal population, according to City Manager, Rick Horst.

“We are a growing city, we’re approaching 55,000-plus people,” Horst said. “The cost is going to be a minimal difference … but more importantly, we will have a person that is dedicated to the city of Maricopa, and they won’t get called out for rotation and back-up calls to Pinal County.”

The City is expected to save over $10,000 by funding the full-time officer during business hours. The officer already uses city-owned equipment, including an animal control vehicle, paid for by the City, according to Horst.

While the animal control officer is set to be funded by the City next fiscal year, there is still some question about after-hour and emergency calls.

Pinal County Animal Control Director Audra Michael, said there are currently a handful of officers who cover different areas of Pinal County, each “covering” a city while also taking calls around the county.

“During the day, he can stay in the city of Maricopa, that’s completely fine, but after-hours, it’s different,” Michael said. “Any officer who is on call can take care of Maricopa, and we have emergency after-hours calls such as bites that someone is going to need to take care of.”

Horst said the officer spent about 80% of his time within city limits during business hours, and 20% was dedicated to handling calls around the county, outside of the city.

“He predominately was assigned to the city of Maricopa, but he was called out to handle things within the county, and when he’s in rotation for being on call they could go anywhere in the county, taking him farther away from the city,” Horst said.

Michael mentioned a significant number of stray animals in the Maricopa area, prompting a need for coverage in the city. Found strays will continue to be sheltered in Casa Grande as Maricopa does not have an animal shelter.

“I would say that the city of Maricopa does have a lot of strays, they do. We work with a couple of people that have rescues in the city of Maricopa, and usually, they’re pretty on top of it,” Michael said.

Kimberly Diedrich, owner of Home is Where the Hound Is, an affiliate with Pet Social Worker Rescue, works with the community to reunite lost pets with their owners.

“Having to go to the shelter every day to bring the strays, and then deal with bite calls and barking complaints, I’m sure we have more work for more than just one full-time officer,” she said.

The animal control officer currently takes calls from Maricopa and the rest of Pinal County, depending on officer availability.

“I don’t see any alarming trends,” Horst said. “The only numbers I do have are our impound numbers, but on average we are about 25 dogs a month and about six or seven cats a month, and those aren’t alarming by any means.”

Numbers do not include animals brought in by owners to have euthanized.

The following shelter statistics are from Pinal County Animal Care and Control and include animals all around Pinal County, including Maricopa:

  • Shelter intake from the public at the beginning of April 2020: 82 dogs, 34 cats
  • Adoptions (from total shelter count): 95 dogs, 1 cat
  • Returned to owner (from total shelter count): 13 dogs, 0 cats
  • Shelter count by the end of April 2020 (includes population from previous month): 126 dogs, 7 cats

Diedrich encourages residents who find stray pets, or who lose their pets, to post on PetSocialWorker.org, a website that reposts to Maricopa’s Pet Lost and Found Facebook page and Pinal County Animal Care and Control.

“As the city continues to grow, I’m sure we will have other needs that will come up,” she said. “This is a change that is in response to the current growth needs of the community. One day we will probably have our own shelter in our community … time will tell.”

 

Jack in the Box of Maricopa. File photo

As COVID-19 caused many eateries to change the way they do business or shut down completely, Pinal County’s health inspectors remained diligent March 16-April 15 in investigating restaurants. All but one received excellent marks.

Jack in the Box had a small problem with temperature control. While the walk-in, reach-in and drawer refrigeration units were holding food at 41 degrees or cooler, as required, the inspector found shake mix and all cheese slices at 47 degrees. The shake mix was tossed, and repair called in for the small refrigerator.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Aliberto’s
Brooklyn Boys Italian Restaurant
Children’s Learning Adventure
Cilantro’s Mexican Cocina
Denny’s
Domino’s Pizza
Good 2 Go
IHOP
Little Caesar’s Pizza
Maricopa High School
Maricopa High School – Culinary
Panda Express
Papa Murphy’s Pizza
Province Community Association – Clubhouse

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]
Jack in the Box

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]
None

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]
None


This item appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

City managers in Pinal County met via Zoom for a Pinal Partnership panel Friday.

The shutdown caused by COVID-19 has “forced” municipal governments and residents to get more tech savvy. It has also sparked innovations.

In a virtual meeting of Pinal Partnership Friday morning, Pinal County’s city managers described how they have approached the pandemic and their plans for the future. Around 225 people “attended” the meeting via Zoom.

Larry Rains, city manager of Casa Grande, and Brent Billingsley of Florence said the necessity of staying ahead of misinformation made both of their staffs become more social-media savvy. Jennifer Brown assistant city manager for the City of Maricopa, said they have also become adept at Zoom and other virtual-meeting platforms.

“All of the city managers, we have been communicating since the onset,” Rains said.

The mayors of Casa Grande and Maricopa have had frequent Facebook Live sessions to communicate with residents.

Harvey Krauss of Eloy said the town had planned to acquire tools for Internet streaming of meetings. “We have been forced to try more technology,” he said.

He credited county programs with helping disseminate information and coordination as community leaders tried to adapt to fast-changing situations.

It felt like we were designing the plane while we were flying,” Krauss said.

“We are more prepared for future incidents like this,” Apache Junction’s Bryant Powell said.

Putting government software like MyGov to use allowed government business to continue remotely for employees and residents.

While towns and cities closed libraries, community centers and recreation programs, municipal business has continued, almost “as usual” while meeting guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Brown said there were 315 inspections in one week in Maricopa. Though city employees who can work from home are doing so, each department has at least one person physically at work, she said. Brown noted Maricopans could already conduct much of their City Hall business online, but the City created a curbside service in front of City Hall for those who wanted to come in person.

“There’s been lots of information-sharing between communities,” said Todd Pryor of Superior.

Superior has been delivering meals to senior citizen and making facemasks for about 7% of the population, he said. Powell said Apache Junction, suspended it sign code to allow businesses to have A-frame signs, and Billingsly said Florence waived rents on city property.

Like Maricopa, council in other Pinal municipalities have found ways to hold legal meetings while social distancing. Billingsley said Florence’s mayor is the only one in council chambers for their meetings while the rest of the council attends via Zoom. The meeting is opened an hour early to collect public comment on specific issues and information from the Call to the Public section of the agenda.

Billingsley said Florence has had a different experience with coronavirus because of the prison system in town. One Florence-based prison had 23 inmates with COVID-19. That became a wider concern because the prison is a major employer, and many of those who work in the prison live in Florence.

Some communities, like Superior, have created a task force to help the government and community prepare for eventual reopening. Some of that might include the continuation of programs that came into being because of social-distancing requirements.

Brown said Maricopa initially had a curbside service at the library at the beginning of the pandemic response. That ended after Gov. Doug Ducey’s “Stay Home” order, but Brown said the service might return when things return to normal. There has also been video programming that may continue. MaricopaEats.com, started by City Hall to boost business for local restaurants during the pandemic, has seen 6,400 click-throughs, Brown said, and may have a place in the future.

Pryor said Superior’s meal delivery program may continue in some fashion.

During the meeting, several attendees “chatted” about the challenge of broadband in rural communities. The Zoom feed from Coolidge as Rick Miller talked about his town stuttered frequently as if to stir the conversation on bandwidth.

Friday’s meeting had been scheduled as a discussion about development but was changed due to COVID-19’s impact.



To continue to grow our local coverage of COVID-19’s impact on Maricopa in the difficult weeks to come while continuing our day-to-day newsgathering, we are partnering with the Local Media Association’s foundation to ask our readers to help with a tax-deductible donation at GiveButter.com/inmaricopa.

Pinal County is planning a crossing for Ralston Road where it dips into Vekol Wash in the Hidden Valley area. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Pinal County is setting its calendar for improving and maintaining roads in unincorporated areas. Now through May 23, it is seeking public comment on the proposed five-year program.
The schedule includes some improvements in Hidden Valley, namely a Ralston Road bridge across Vekol Wash and lots of dust abatement. Projects affecting District 4 on the current fiscal year’s plan have been completed or, in the case of $300,000 dust palliative on Whirly Bird Road between Ralston and Amarillo Valley, are underway.
The plan does not include major projects that are on the county’s Regional Transportation Authority draft list that voters approved in 2018.
Programmed 2020-21, pending approval by county supervisors, are dust palliative projects on Bowlin Road between Hidden Valley Road and Stonebluff Road ($100,000), Louis Johnson Drive between State Route 347 and Amarillo Valley Road ($250,000) and Stonebluff Road between Farrell and Bowlin ($100,000).
A 1.5-mile stretch of Thunderbird Road between Teal and Mayer roads is scheduled for reconstruction that year. The primary purpose is widening the road. The estimated cost is $450,000. That would be funded through a the transportation excise tax.
The Ralston Road crossing is proposed for the 2022-23 fiscal year. It is estimated to cost $1.5 million. It is in the design stage. A source of funding has not been named. The area was particularly hard hit by flooding in recent years.
Hidden Valley has been vulnerable to Vekol Wash flooding, with 2018 being a dramatic example. Photo by Bruce McLaughlin
Also in 2022-23, dust palliative is scheduled for Fresno Road between Warren and Ralston roads. That section is scheduled to be paved the following year.
The 10-member Transportation Advisory Committee approved the draft program in February. These and projects across the county are schedule to go before the Board of Supervisors in June.

The committee is a 10-member panel that is appointed by the Board of Supervisors to annually review, update, and recommend the program of transportation projects. The committee’s recommendation is a culmination of a six-month planning cycle that included three public meetings and the evaluation of 17 transportation project requests.

Transportation Advisory Committee next meets Sept. 22, 2:30 p.m., at the Pinal County Administrative Complex in Florence.

SR 347 would be one of the beneficiaries of Prop 417, but the issue continues in the courts. (ADOT)

Maricopa and Pinal County are heading to Arizona Supreme Court.

Thursday, attorneys from the Goldwater Institute filed an appeal of a Court of Appeals ruling that favored the county’s regional transportation authority. The case, Vangilder, et al. v. Pinal County, et al., challenges Prop 417, a funding mechanism for a plan to improve Pinal County roadways.

Prop 417 was approved by Pinal County voters in November 2017. State Route 347 is among roadways on the improvement plan that was approved by voters in Prop 416 on the same ballot.

During the campaign, The Goldwater Institute, a conservative thinktank, had challenged the legal validity of Prop 417’s ballot wording. After its passage, the institute filed suit to stop its implementation.

Despite the lawsuit, with the approval of the courts, the RTA has been collecting the tax since April 2018. According to Pinal County records, the account holds $33.4 million as of the end of February.

Arizona Tax Court agreed with Goldwater in ruling that Prop 417 was “an unconstitutional special law” that exceeded county authority. The appellate court, however, overturned that decision in January, finding the tax to be valid.

The Court of Appeals judges felt the Goldwater attorneys were wrong on some facts of the case. They also stated Braden v. Yuma County Board of Supervisors, which Goldwater tried to cite as precedence, did not apply to the Pinal County case.

The case involves 12 law offices, from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to private law firms representing friends of the court.

Pinal County, the RTA and Arizona Department of Revenue or direct defendants in the case. The Pinal Partnership and the municipalities of Maricopa, Coolidge, Queen Creek and Florence are amicus curiae. Arizona Tax Research Association, which had warned Pinal County about its concerns about the ballot issue’s validity months before the 2017 vote, also remains attached as amicus curiae.

Goldwater attorneys had until March 19 to file briefs with the state Supreme Court and filed on the deadline day. The parties now wait to learn if the judges will hear the case.

On the ballot, the question read:

PROPOSITION 417 (November 2017)
(Relating to County Transportation Excise (Sales) Taxes)
Do you favor the levy of a transportation excise (sales) tax including at a rate equal to one-half percent (0.5%) of the gross income from the business activity upon every person engaging or continuing in the business of selling tangible personal property at retail; provided that such rate shall become a variable or modified rate such that when applied in any case when the gross income from the sale of a single item of tangible personal property exceeds ten thousand dollars ($10,000), the one-half percent (0.5%) tax rate shall apply to the first ten thousand dollars ($10,000), and above ten thousand dollars ($10,000), the measure of tax shall be a rate of zero percent (0.0%), in Pinal County for twenty (20) years to provide funding for the transportation elements contained in the Pinal Regional Transportation Plan? Do you favor the levy of a transaction privilege (sales) tax for regional transportation purposes, including at a variable or modified rate, in Pinal County?

YES _____
NO _____

(A “YES” vote has the effect of imposing a transaction privilege (sales) tax in Pinal County, including at a variable or modified rate, for twenty (20) years to provide funding for the transportation projects contained in the Regional Transportation Plan.)

(A “NO” vote has the effect of rejecting the transaction privilege (sales) tax for transportation purposes in Pinal County.)

Arizona Supreme Court

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.

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Dan Frank

Dan Frank of Maricopa is ending his campaign for Pinal County District 4 supervisor.

The president of the Maricopa Flood Control District Board, planning and zoning commissioner and former city councilmember made the announcement to supporters Tuesday. He was vying for the seat to be vacated by Anthony Smith, current chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

“I simply do not have the time necessary to devote toward the campaign or the obligations of the office,” Frank said in his announcement. “I appreciate all of those who have supported and encouraged me to this point.”

His departure from the field leaves the Republican nomination open to Jeffrey McClure, a Saddlebrooke resident. Maricopa’s Marlene Pearce has announced her intent to run as an independent.

“I wish the other candidates well in their endeavors,” Frank said.

 

Jill Broussard, Pinal County superintendent of schools. Photo by Kyle Norby

Jill Broussard grew up in Ohio two towns away from Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer and now works out of a former grocery store that is the Florence offices of the county superintendent of public education. She sat down to talk with InMaricopa about working with Pinal County’s 19 school districts, the Legislature and test scores.

Jill Broussard
Title: Pinal County superintendent of public education
Age: 41
Hometown: Westerville, Ohio
Residence: San Tan Valley
Pinal County resident since: 2004
Family: Husband Dan and two teenage sons
Education: Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and teaching from Arizona State University; master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Northern Arizona University
Politics: Elected to current post as a Republican 2012, reelected 2016, seeking reelection 2020
Previous work: Taught sixth grade and kindergarten
Worst-kept secret: Has fostered dogs for Great Dane Rescue Alliance of Arizona

Please remind us of your background.
I came to Pinal County in 2004 and we moved to San Tan Valley. I had taught for a couple of years. My husband joined the Arizona Army National Guard, and I decided to stay home with the kids since we weren’t really sure what his schedule was going to look like. After staying home for a couple of years, I was speaking with some other community members, and they encouraged me to run for county school superintendent. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Were there issues that caused you to run?
I just have always wanted to do. I’m a doer. So, if I can do something to help improve education in Pinal County, and having a horse in the game with my two boys being in education in Pinal County, I just was motivated to start thinking outside the box and doing things a little differently.

What is a typical week in the life of the superintendent?
A typical week is really all over the board. I don’t even have a typical day. In order to explain that, let me tell you what our duties are as county superintendent. It’s laid out in state statute. We are in charge of the fiscal services for the 19 districts here in Pinal County. We help them with balancing to the treasurer, the distribution of federal grants, state grants, and their checks are printed through our office. Then we also do professional development for all of the teachers and staff. We work really closely with the superintendents, the principals and the teachers as far as identifying what areas they need support in. But we also, through our Education Service Agency that does professional development, we also help with different consortium. So, anything that we can help with maybe banding together and getting lower rates, lower costs on somethings just to help them save money. I also do the juvenile detention center and the education at the jail. We also do a GED program at the jail. We have an accommodation district, Mary C. O’Brien Accommodation District; it’s down off 11 Mile Corner near Casa Grande, the elementary is. And we have a high school that is down in Toltec, and it’s an alternative high school. We top out at 125 students. Both of those schools provide a specific education that maybe no other school in the county can provide.

There’s a local charter school that requires their parents to volunteer 40 hours a year in the classroom or for the teachers. We can’t do that as public schools.

What is an accommodation school?
Historically, it began as an unincorporated area outside the boundaries of any other district. It was mostly farmland, and it would swell with migrant workers at certain times of year. Well, their kids need to be educated, so that fell under the county school superintendent’s responsibilities. Then for a number of years it became a special-education school and program. Then the districts started to take their special-ed kids back, which is a great thing, and we opened it up as a regular elementary school. Now under the direction of my associate superintendent and the principal over there, they’ve done great things with the staff and they are getting some of the top scores in the county and the state.

Why do you think that is?
It helps that they’re a small school and the teachers are very skilled. We have very little turnover there. Really when somebody retires, that’s when we have turnover there. We have one teacher per grade level. Some of the classes are pretty small because, like I said, we top at 125. We usually leave a couple of spots open because if anybody moves into the district, we don’t want to go over that number. They just really developed some great programs, reading programs where the whole class goes into reading lab, small groups, one-on-one, and now we’re doing the same thing with math instruction. Just having that personalized instruction and that ability to do that small-group work really goes a long way.

What are successes you’ve had in office so far?
When I first came in, we worked really hard with the juvenile detention facility to revamp that program over there and really work in some transition skills so those students have some skills that really apply to real life when they get out. Yes, we’re working on getting them credits and catching up. We’re trying to get them graduated from high school, but we’re also teaching them how to budget, how to interview, how to research and investigate different avenues they can take when they get back out on their feet.

Another one, we had Justice Sandra Day O’Connor come, and she spoke to our superintendents and students about her iCivics program. That was just really fun, and to be able to get your picture with an icon like that and have her come and speak to our kids and inspire them was really amazing.

We had a number of counties that had to close their juvenile detention facilities because you have to provide an education and they didn’t have enough money to pay teachers and staff to keep those doors open.

We have a business and education partnership that we started with Pinal Partnership. We do a summit every year and we highlight different programs that are happening between businesses and schools in the communities as well as different things we need to focus on as a community. So, Center for the Future of Arizona has the progress meters. We’re working on progress meters here in Pinal County as well with a committee and when we bring those up when we have our summit, we’re able to address those issues with the rest of the community and say, ‘Here’s where we are and here are the things that we’re doing to help improve those numbers.” I’ve also worked on some legislation with our Arizona Association of County School Superintendents and gotten some legislation through. Most recently was the funding for our juvenile detention facilities. The funding levels for the juvenile detention facilities, for the education in there, was very low. We had a number of counties that had to close their juvenile detention facilities because you have to provide an education and they didn’t have enough money to pay teachers and staff to keep those doors open. We had five other counties begin sending their students to our facility here in Pinal County. That was Apache, Navajo, Graham, Greenlee and Gila. We still just had a principal/teacher, a paraprofessional and an administrative assistant running that with all those counties sending their students. What we did was we ran legislation to increase funding from $25,000 a year to $100,000 a year, which will pay for an additional teacher for us, and instead of $15 a day, $25 a day. A good majority of those students are pretty far behind academically and have some other issues that they may be dealing with, either emotionally or academically, and they need that additional support. It is pretty costly to educate those students. So, with that, we’ve been able to hire a couple more teachers and have a really great, strong program happening there.

What are some things you’re struggling with?
One of the things I do struggle with actually in this position is really I don’t have the authority over the districts. I’m not saying I need authority over the districts. It’s just when I see a great program working somewhere else and I would love to see it in our districts here, it can’t always be done. They may have something else in place; they may just have a different vision than I do. But what really kind of haunts me, and it’s a question that’s asked me all the time, is how do we get our parents involved and engaged in our students’ education because that makes the largest impact on a student’s success. Knowing that Mom and Dad are supporting them, knowing that Mom and Dad find value in education and so they need to be doing their best and being encouraged and helped goes a long way.  How I do that from the county position of county school superintendent, I haven’t figured that out yet. That’s something where I lay awake and try to think of ways to do it. But there are 19 districts, so what’s going to work in San Tan Valley may not necessarily work in San Manuel. We have such a wide variety of schools and situation in Pinal County.

There’s a local charter school that requires their parents to volunteer 40 hours a year in the classroom or for the teachers. We can’t do that as public schools. We take whatever students come; we take all their baggage with them and that’s not necessarily the case with charter schools.

What is your relationship with the Legislature?
Over the years, that’s been a focus, and I’ve gotten a little better each year. I really do feel like I am in a position where I can advocate for the districts of Pinal County. Because I’m not necessarily on a campus every day like our other superintendents are for our districts, I feel like I can be their voice up at the state Legislature. I also go once a year to D.C. and I meet with our congressmen and -women up there. I talk to them about what’s happening in rural Arizona. And I have developed those relationships over the years. It’s really nice because sometimes I get emails that their reaching out to me for information from our districts whereas I was just constantly feeling like I was knocking on their door, making requests of them. But they’re listening, and I’m seeing that.

When you talk about having resources for fiscal management, what do you have available for the schools if they’re having issues that way?
For fiscal management, that’s this office here in Florence. We have our accountants, and whenever there’s questions from the districts, they’ll ask our accountants, and we will do research for them on whatever their fiscal services questions are, payroll, withholdings, even funding. We’ve had a couple of times when business managers have either left unexpectedly or been ill, and I have accountants that will fill in for them temporarily until they find a replacement. We’ve helped with some training of some new business managers as well.

Where I’ve seen the most success for districts is when they get out into the community and they really discuss the needs and the reasoning behind going out for a bond and override.

Across the state, lots of schools had bond issues and overrides on the ballots. Many of them did very well; Pinal County really struggled. What was your reaction to that, and do you have any advice for them in the future?
Historically, the bonds and overrides, when I first came into office, they weren’t passing then either. Then we had a little stretch where we had some good passage and support. This time was not as great. It is a little disappointing to see, coming from a state where anytime a bond or override came onto the ballot it was just the culture to just say yes to whatever. I think our voters here are a little more discerning, maybe a little more concerned about how the money is spent. Where I’ve seen the most success for districts is when they get out into the community and they really discuss the needs and the reasoning behind going out for a bond and override. So when you get out into the community and you say, “Look, this is to build a new gym because the other one’s full of asbestos and mold. We have a bus fleet of six buses, and three of them are broken down and two of them are on their last legs and these buses cost over $200,000 and that’s not money we have in our coffers right now. We can’t fund another four buses at the moment.” Technology is a huge one. We have an eRate consortium, and we’ve received a grant for $33 million to do a broadband initiative in the county. We’re bringing broadband to every school and every library in the county. Suddenly, these schools that were a little more remote, maybe, and didn’t have access to that fiber cable, now they do and now they can bring that technology into the school. And that’s a huge cost as well. Every district is going out for their bond and their override for different reasons, but I’ve seen the most success when they go out and they communicate with the public on that.

How long did it take you, moving here from Ohio, to get up to speed on how things operated in the education differently?
I went to school at ASU, so I was educated here, but I really had to get into the system to really see that there’s a difference. We don’t have as enormous of a retirement population as in Arizona. There’s some wonderful things that come with having a huge retirement population here in Arizona. And there’s some not-so-great ones, like, “I don’t have any kids in the school system, so why should I pay for your kids to go through?” I have a great argument for that – somebody paid for their kids and paid for them to go to school – but as far as getting up to date I was definitely in this office before I really had a good grasp on what it looked like here in Arizona. It’s huge. It’s vast. I’m learning something new everyday in this position. I even went back to school once I got this position for my master’s in educational leadership because I really thought that would help me understand more and also lead an organization. It’s intricate, especially school finance. That’s a tough one. I will be a lifelong learner of school finance. I will never know everything there is to know about school finance, but I learn more every day.

And a note to anybody who applies – if you don’t mention kids in your interview, you really don’t have a chance of getting appointed to a school board. But it happens all the time.

One of the “fun” things you get to do is, when there is an opening on a school board or the college board, you get to make that selection. What is your thought process?
Pinal County’s the size of Connecticut. I can’t know the inner workings of every community. And we all know that there’s some inner workings in every community and history that’s there. So, typically I reach out to the superintendent and let them know that I will take up to two recommendations from the board once we get all of the applicants. I interview all of the applicants. I listen to them. I make a selection based on what that board needs. A recommendation from the board goes a long way. When I do the CAC governing board, I tend to form an interview committee or panel. I try to make sure I have, I may possibly have an elected official, I’ve had one or two employees of CAC, I try to have community members, business members. I try to represent many facets of the population in that area. And then I have them help me with the interviews. That ones a tough one because it affects the tax rate for the entire county. I think it’s important to have that input. I haven’t been as lucky with getting panels together for some of our districts just because it’s a smaller community and sometimes difficult to get… without bias, someone open-minded. That’s why I think talking to the superintendent, talking to the school board, really helps me get a view of what the district needs, what the school board needs, and then I try to put somebody in there.

And a note to anybody who applies – if you don’t mention kids in your interview, you really don’t have a chance of getting appointed to a school board. But it happens all the time.

What would you like to see happen with public education in this county?
Well, test scores are not everything, but it is a good indicator as to how our students are performing with other students around the state and even in the country. So, we really want to help promote mastery in teaching when it comes to ELA and math. That’s huge. But I think another huge thing is preparing our students for the jobs and industries that are coming to our county. Looking ahead at what skills they’re going to need for that and that they can be adaptable because they’re probably not going to wind up in a job that they’re going to sit in for 40 years. We’ve seen that trend happening for a few years now. We have these great industries coming to Pinal County and wonderful opportunities. So, to be able to set them up with more career and technical education and even starting at a younger age would be great – having those options open to them, internships. It’s hard for me to narrow it down because the sky’s the limit when it comes to our kids. I’m on the State Board of Education, and getting to hear and see some of the innovative things that are happening across the state is really exciting. I’m on the executive council of a national organization called Association of Education Services Agencies. I get to see what’s happening across the United States. That is really exciting because I can bring that back to our school here in Arizona. Rural Arizona can have those same opportunities that are happening in Chicago, Illinois, and that’s exciting. Just providing the same quality of education in rural Arizona that some of the big cities and affluent neighborhoods are getting is exciting for me, and I want to continue to bring that to the doors of our students.


This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

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Dan Frank is one of two Maricopans running for the Pinal County Board of Supervisors. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

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.”

City and county officials turn dirt at the site of a future county complex.

 

About a month later than anticipated, Pinal County broke ground on a new administrative complex in Maricopa Friday.

The project expands current court facilities, which house Western Pinal Justice Court and Maricopa Municipal Court, a creates satellite offices for county services like the sheriff’s office, clerk of the court, assessor’s office and the recorder’s office. It will also provide space for the District 4 supervisor.

Current District 4 Supervisor Anthony Smith led the ceremony. He chairs the board of supervisors this year, which will be his last on the board, meaning he will not benefit from the new offices. The former Maricopa mayor said he has a history of planting buildings if not opening them.

With Johnson Carlier as general contractor, it may take up to 14 months to complete the $9.9 million, 41,000-square-foot expansion. The address for the county complex has been changed to 20025 N. Wilson Ave.

“We look forward to working here,” said Johnson Carlier Senior Project Manager Tim Lewis. “We look forward to building a quality product that everybody is proud of.”

Judge Lyle Riggs is both the city magistrate and the county’s justice of the peace for District 4. He said though the courts were already collocated when he took office, but the agreement that made it so was “pretty one-sided in favor of the City.”

A new deal struck between the City of Maricopa and Pinal County for the collocation saves both entities money, he said.

“In my own estimates hundreds of thousands of dollars a year are being saved,” Riggs said. “While some of that goes to the county and some of it goes to the City, bottom line, it goes to all of the taxpayers, who now pay less to get the services they have the right to receive.”

He said Maricopa Police Department and Pinal County Sheriff’s Office are also already doing “some amazing things” to be efficient. Instead of a police officer leaving his patrol to transport a defendant back and forth from the municipal court to the county jail in Florence, PCSO brings defendants over once a week.

“This building will be a manifestation of that cooperative spirit that often is absent where governments cross,” Riggs said.

 

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Marlene Pearce is District 4 administrator. Submitted photo

The race to replace Anthony Smith is widening. Three candidates have now announced an intention to run for Pinal County supervisor in District 4.

Marlene Pearce, who originally intended to run for Maricopa City Council, is now seeking the nomination for supervisor. She has been the district administrator eight years.

“I have worked with Supervisor Smith since taking office in 2013, and have been instrumental in the progress we have made in providing the best in services and resources for our constituents,” she said in a statement released Thursday.

District 4 extends from Maricopa in the northwest to Saddlebrooke in the southeast. She joins Jeffrey McClure and Dan Frank. Only McClure, a Republican, has a statement of organization on file.

Pearce has the endorsement of Smith.

“There is nobody better suited to be the next County Supervisor than Marlene Pearce,” he said in a statement. “Marlene is a natural problem solver with a vast knowledge of county government and will do what it takes to see that the county reaches the next level of opportunity. Marlene Pearce gets my endorsement and I hope she will get yours.”

Had Pearce continued her campaign for city council, a nonpartisan race, one of her fellow candidates would have been incumbent Nancy Smith, Anthony Smith’s wife.

Pearce is on the executive board of United Way of Pinal County. She previously served on the Legislative Committee for the Western Pinal Association of Realtors.

Her job as district administrator was previously titled assistant to the supervisor but was changed in 2018, allowing  higher pay. In that capacity, she said, she has worked with county and municipal staffs, Arizona Department of Transportation and Bureau of Land Management “for road acquisitions and improvements across the district.”

Pearce has lived in the county 15 years.

“A key attribute that has always been important was to be accessible,” she said in the statement. “I have consistently been part of our Town Hall and Sessions with the Supervisor events. I pride myself in being the main point of contact for all our constituents’ thoughts and concerns.  The mantra for the District has always been “working to improve the quality of life for our citizens”, and I am committed to continue on that path.”

At this time, the only other county race with announced election competition is in the assessor’s office, where Michael Cruz is challenging incumbent Douglas Wolf in the Republican primary.

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Dan Frank

The Republican primary for county supervisor in District 4 just became a contest.

With Anthony Smith saying he will not run for re-election, Jeffrey McClure of Oracle quickly put his name in. Last week, Maricopa’s Dan Frank confirmed he, too, will seek the GOP nomination for the seat.

Frank is a member of Maricopa’s Planning and Zoning Commission and is president of the Maricopa Flood Control District. He previously served on Maricopa City Council as an appointee.

McClure is president of the Oracle School District Governing Board.

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Anthony Smith, left, and Pete Rios will head the county board of supervisors.
Beginning Jan. 1, Anthony Smith of Maricopa will be chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors for 2020.
It is the second stint in the chair for Smith, who Republican represents District 4. His current term on the board ends next December, and he has announced he does not intend to seek reelection.
“This upcoming year will be one of building upon the momentum we have already generated these last few years,” Smith said in a statement. “I believe 2020 will see Pinal County and our communities break more records in job growth, share prosperity at all income levels with record low unemployment and increase the quality of life for all.”
The board also selected Pete Rios, a Democrat representing District 1, to be vice-chairman.
“My colleagues continue to be non-partisan on this board as I am,” Rios stated. “I sincerely appreciate their willingness to work as a team for the betterment of all the constituents in Pinal county. Our positive past record on economic development and attracting huge projects and jobs to the county is a result of that. We look forward to a great 2020 and more accomplishments for the people of Pinal County.”

Edwards Circle is Maricopa's public housing complex, but vouchers allow low-income families to rent private homes and apartments. Photo by Kyle Norby

By Joycelyn Cabrera

Public housing in Maricopa is nothing new, but private properties accepting subsidized vouchers give flexibility for low-income families.

The Pinal County Housing Department refers to Edward’s Circle as the “Maricopa property,” a 20-unit public housing complex for eligible, low-income families. Units falling under the Housing Choice Voucher Program would provide more flexibility for a family’s needs if local properties accept the vouchers.

Some rental homes in Maricopa, for instance, have accepted the subsidized vouchers since the beginning of the program. Recent housing studies indicate Maricopa needs more low-income housing.

Rolanda Cephas, Pinal County Housing Department operations manager, explained how subsidies work in local public housing units.

“We operate and we receive subsidies from HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development] to serve low-income families,” Cephas said. “So, we own the properties, we take care of the properties, we manage the properties. The subsidy is actually attached to the units, so if someone moves out of our public housing, they don’t take the subsidy. The units are what’s subsidized.”

Maricopa does not have private apartments yet. The developer of a proposed apartment complex has stated the project will have tax subsidies but not rent subsidies.

In Pinal County, there are 139 current public housing units, according to Cephas, and 419 Housing Choice Vouchers in use out of a total of 584.

Maricopa has a total of 20 public housing units and 21 Housing Choice vouchers (Section 8 vouchers). Eligible families and individuals occupy the public housing units after a wait-listed period.

Other residences in Maricopa are inspected by the Pinal County Housing Department to ensure the property falls under Section 8 guidelines for those 21 vouchers.

“Section 8 vouchers are vouchers attached to the individual person or individual family,” Cephas said. “So, if someone applies for Section 8 and their name reaches the top of the Section 8 wait-list, what they’ll receive is an actual voucher. They can take that voucher and move into any private rental unit where the landlord is willing to accept a Section 8 voucher.”

Vouchers under the program in Maricopa have the flexibility of choosing a unit to rent, followed by an inspection to determine if the unit meets the housing and rental requirements under the Housing Quality Standards provided by HUD. This includes reasonable rent charges.

According to HUD, the Section 8 program allows low-income families, the elderly and those living with disabilities to afford “decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market.”

“The subsidy is attached to the voucher on behalf of the family,” Cephas said. “So, if someone finds an apartment … what they would do is go over there with their voucher and paperwork packet; the manager or owner … would fill out their paperwork and give us the information on the actual unit, and then that paperwork is submitted to us.”

The family or individual would pay the difference of the rent charged for the property and the subsidy paid to the landlord on behalf of the family or individual, according to HUD.

Cephas said private properties have the choice of accepting Housing Choice vouchers, but this choice is up to property management or ownership.

The Pinal County Housing Department estimates the number on its Section 8 waiting list to be around 600, while the waiting list for general public housing is approximately 5,000.


This is an updated story clarifying an planned apartment complex’s future subsidies.

Photo by Kyle Norby

Pinal County Animal Care and Control hosted a pet-adoption event Saturday at Raceway Grill during lunch. Earlier this month, the organization announced it was full because it had taken in 94 dogs in eight days – of those, 27 were surrendered by their owners and 48 were strays.

'There’s some major projects I hope to be able to announce in the spring in the area of the city of Maricopa'

Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith. Photo by Kyle Norby

Anthony Smith
Title
: Pinal County Supervisor, District 4
Age: 66
Maricopan since: 2003
Family: Nancy (wife), five grown children in blended family with seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren
Education: Bachelor of Science, Purdue University
Professional background: Project Management Professional, worked at Motorola 10 years
Previous elected office: Mayor of Maricopa, 2008-2010, 2010-2012

Anthony Smith is entering his last year as Pinal County supervisor for District 4, having previously announced his decision not to seek reelection. He has been supervisor since 2013 after serving two terms as mayor of Maricopa.

He sat down with InMaricopa to talk about activities in Pinal County in 2019 and what may happen in 2020, his perspective of Maricopa, Interstate 11, transportation, future concerns for the county and more.

Remind us of your background:
I came from Illinois. I was born in Indiana and raised there. I raised my children in Central Illinois. In 1997 I came to Arizona to work for Motorola and did that for 10 years. I’ve been married to Nancy Smith, who’s a city councilmember for the City of Maricopa, for nearly 20 years now. So, we came to Maricopa in 2003 because, just like a lot of people at that time, we were looking for affordable housing. This was at the time about 15 minutes away from our Motorola plant at Queen Creek and Price Road. It’s not 15 minutes’ drive time any more. It was a place that was convenient, and it gave us a community that we felt was evolving. We were very excited about those first few years. To my amazement after less than five years they gave me the opportunity to serve them as mayor.

Since you were mayor, how has Maricopa changed?
Well, during that time in which we were trying to figure out how long is this recession and how deep is it going to be, fortunately the previous city councils had put aside a lot of that one-time money received from growth that gave our city councils the ability to, once the prices dropped on land, we were able to make some very important strategic purchases. The purchases such as for the city hall, that large complex came from basically a fire sale on some properties that had finally dropped to the point that we could buy them at a reasonable rate. The same thing with Copper Sky. All that land for that beautiful park on the southern side of the city was all purchased at one time with the idea that we would keep the frontage so that we could get commercial development. Fast-forward 10 years and that is finally happening with the prospect of hotels and retail and other things. During that time we were sustained by important projects. I think in 2009 came the Walmart. It added to the tax base. We needed that influx of money. Central Arizona College put their stakes in the ground and started the Maricopa campus. In addition, we were able to attract some healthcare with Banner and then others coming to town. That provided some of the ingredients for the community we have today. Now, there’s been a lot of building since that time, and, of course, the overpass played a very, very important part of that. But we started working on the overpass, just like Mayor Price and those current city councils, but it’s been a long haul, and we made our trips to Washington, D.C., to lobby for that and ADOT meetings, etc. It’s been a whole community effort by its leadership in order to make it happen, but we’re very glad to see the results.

Did it surprise you it’s taken this long to break ground on a hotel?
Absolutely, it has. We did everything we could to help a hotel take hold. But it was a tough sell at a tough time. There was very, very much limits on capital investments at that basis. So, I think we just basically had the wrong dance partner. We did everything we possibly could to make it attractive for a hotel to come into the city of Maricopa. But it must not have been the right timing. And now I think we’ve have the prospect of not only one but two hotels. I’m pretty excited about it. I think it adds to our community. A lot of the people are wanting to visit people, plus also the number of hotel stays we have by the various car test facilities, Nissan, Volkswagen. We miss so much in revenue from hotel tax by not having a hotel in the city.

Has your political perspective changed since you became a supervisor?
There certainly is a learning curve to find out what works and what doesn’t work. One thing I found to my amazement is that my skillset in project management was a very good fit for the City of Maricopa, a new city in which about 80 percent of what we were doing was new projects. It made perfect sense to me as far as how to drive them along. Now, being a project manager, especially in the expertise of a planner scheduler, I spent my career trying to get things done as fast as possible and under budget. Well, it takes a lot of patience in government. You can’t move at the pace of the private world, and that’s oftentimes for good reason, because you have to engage the public, you have to have a lot of input and it moves at a slower place probably for good reason. I’ve learned that as the mayor of Maricopa, and it’s been reinforced now as a county supervisor that local governments move at a pace that may be frustrating for a lot of people, but oftentimes the end result is very good.

Let’s look back on the past year. What are the biggest successes you think the county’s had?
One of the big deals is that when ADOT selected the [Interstate 11] route that is south of the city of Maricopa, comes from the area in Hidden Valley, comes through the south of Maricopa, swings over about the Barnes Road alignment and then goes and connects to the I-8 near Casa Grande, when they selected that as the recommended alternative, that was a big deal. Because the other alternative went down State Route 85 at Gila Bend and then on I-8. It did nothing for Pinal County. It did nothing for the city of Maricopa and its growth. With that new road, not only do you get economic development associated with what you might find along the 101 or the 202 in the metro Phoenix are, but in the big picture it provides a commerce corridor that connects one of our main trading partners, Mexico, to Arizona and points northward but it also, as we develop additional manufacturing and high-volume employees opportunities in the Casa Grande area with the Lucid project and the Nikola project, those will give access to those jobs in about the same drive time or probably even less than what you would traveling to the metro Phoenix area. It also takes a lot of traffic off the 347. Of course, we have what we are still moving through the courts, the Regional Transportation Authority that the voters approved two years ago. I’d like to see that be successful in the courts. But that includes the widening of 347, and that coupled with the future I-11 I think will help in order to better manage traffic and transportation in this area and give people who live in the city of Maricopa an alternative for traveling into the metro Phoenix area. We want to keep them in Pinal County to those jobs that we have in the Casa Grande area and the I-8, I-10 area. So, that is a big deal. It’s not done. It’s years away from being built. But it’s an important thing, just like when I travel on the 101 and 202 today, I’m glad that there were people who had the guts and stood up and put the lines on the map, and now you see hospitals, you see retail, you see auto dealers, you see addition of employment opportunities in that area. Someday we’ll have that just south of the city of Maricopa and really quite available for our uses.

Another thing that I’m very happy that we’ve accomplished in 2019 is the finalization of a new county complex for the city of Maricopa. This was very important because currently a lot of people in Maricopa and Western Pinal drive to Casa Grande and even Florence in order to get county services. We’ll be bringing those services to this area, and some of those services are things like the recorder’s office, the assessor, planning. We’ll be expanding the justice courts, and of course the justice courts are associated with the county and municipal court is associated with the City of Maricopa. Also included in this location that is in the Heritage District in the area near the post office but around the existing justice court is a sheriff’s substation. Now, that is going to be a big deal for your local police because it’ll have holding cells. Currently, if there’s a person arrested and needs to go to jail they are transported by Maricopa Police to Florence. It takes the Maricopa Police off the streets as they do these transports, and it’s also very costly. So, there will be holding cells at the sheriff’s substation, and they will be able to transport the prisoners at a time in which it is more appropriate and saving the City of Maricopa lots of money. This project will probably break ground in January. We’re out for bid for the entire project right now and we hope to complete it in October of 2020.

Dec. 2 we’re going to break ground for the Lucid electric car manufacturing project. That’s going to be about 2,000 employees. They’re already hiring certain critical positions at this time. But it’s going to be  a big deal for the city of Maricopa because in the plan for workforce recruitment they are hoping to get 25% of their workforce from folks in the city of Maricopa. That again takes some of the pressure off 347, redirects them into another location and it also provides a much quicker drive time from what they currently experience. These are high-tech jobs and this is very comparable to what you would get at Intel and some of the other high-tech jobs you would have in Chandler and Ahwatukee area.

We had a change in leadership. We had a very good county manager in Greg Stanley. That was about five to seven years that he was there giving us leadership. He provided great leadership during the time period, but anytime you have a change of leadership at the top, you hope for the best. With Louis Andersen taking the helm, I have confidence it will continue in the direction of strong economic development, putting an emphasis on providing quality service to the people of Pinal County communities and continue our prosperity.

One of the things I continue to be very thankful is the strong financial position Pinal County is in. Pinal County was the first county to regain all the jobs that we lost during the recession. We have a very favorable tax rate. In fact, we lowered our tax rate once more. We intend on lowering it, assuming the revenues are sufficient, again next year. We actually have a strategic goal of lowering it to 3.75, and in two more years, we will achieve that goal. It’s important when you do a lot of recruitment of companies that you have a favorable tax rate, a low tax rate. Plus, also, a lot of entrepreneurs, small businesses, they need the lower tax rate in order to help with their bottom line also. So this is strengthening the financial position. We have plenty of moneys in reserve. We are able to deliver about the same amount of service or maybe a little bit with the same number of employees that we had about eight years ago.

In looking at the county numbers, we found that for a four-year period, 2014-2017, there was a steady rise in home prices and housing prices in general, whereas wages seemed to go up and down and overall were stagnant. Is that a concern?
We’re in a transitional economy. In fact, Pinal County is in a big transition. We’ve got historic industries such as agriculture and mining that have been very good for Pinal County and Arizona for decades, but we’re slowly making that transition. We certainly didn’t want to be communities that were bedroom communities to Tucson or Phoenix. We wanted to attract our own workforce. When I first became supervisor, I was astonished that over 50% of our workforce leaves Pinal County every day in order to work in Maricopa County or Pima County. We’ve certainly made great instrides on that and will continue to make that. With the city of Maricopa and San Tan Valley, those numbers are even higher; this 70%, 80% of the workforce leaves every day. We’re strengthening our transportation system out in the central area. We’ve got the North-South Corridor, which is not the same as the I-11, which connects around the Mesa Gateway Airport and goes truly down the middle of Pinal County all the way down to Picacho Peak and connects with the I-10.

We had the tiff between Apex and Atessa. How often does that occur and do supervisors have to wade into that?
I think that was a rarity. At the time when it happened, I thought, ‘Well, I think this is kind of crazy. Why can’t we have five racetracks? Why can’t we become the center of automobile manufacturing and tests and entertainment in the auto industry?’ I try to be more broad-ranged in my thoughts and not be so strung out on competition and trying to eliminate your competition. I very much supported Apex, and I very much supported Atessa, but when they got into that battle, I certainly was very supportive of where I live, my hometown, the city of Maricopa for the Apex project. And, of course, that’s turned out super. They’ve, I think, gone beyond what they thought they would on their success and their recruiting and membership. I’m wanting that the Atessa project overcomes their deficiencies in their water that they are working through the state and are able to put something special in that area, which is just south of I-8 near Bianca and Montgomery roads. Those are important project. Again, it brings more employment to Pinal. But we work very well with our communities. contrary to what might happen in Maricopa County. They oftentimes have pitched battles between the communities. We try to rally around all the communities in Pinal County. For now we’re working very well, tighter, and complement each other, whether it’s a project in Casa Grande with Lucid working hand-in-hand to make the project a reality, working with Coolidge and Eloy regarding the Nikola project, and of course there’s some major projects I hope to be able to announce in the spring in the area of the city of Maricopa. We continue to be a very attractive place because we have an availability of land, we have a workforce and we have a favorable tax rate. And we’re having a lot of interest from around not only Arizona but in other states and around the world.

As healthy as the county is right now, what red flags would you warn your successor about?
There’s certainly the concern about water. We have some conflicting information. We have certain forces that say we only have 80% of our supply that we’ll need in a 100-year time period. You’ve got others, including our local experts at Global Water, that say that’s inconclusive data. The information that they have, and I think if you manage it correctly, that you’ll have an adequate amount of water. I’m a person, coming from the Midwest in which we have water management up there, we need to remember that we live in a desert. I’d like to see more reuse, more conservation of our water resources. I think that comes down to planning and planning out developments. I think we sometimes need to rethink how we are using and managing our water, and I think that’s part of the formula for moving forward. We’re fortunate that we got money from the state in order to rejuvenate and renovate some of our groundwater wells. We’re going to have to manage that transition away from the CAP water resource to our wells to just make better use of our water. Again, it just comes down the reality that you live in a desert, and I think there’s going to be an adequate amount of water, it’s just that we’re going to have to manage it better than we’ve ever done before.

If ultimately the courts rule against the RTA, what next steps do you foresee taking?
Well, my term ends on Dec. 31, 2020, and we anticipate all court challenges will be done by the fall of 2020 and we’ll make those decisions. It would be my hope that we continue. It’s unfortunate that counties and communities have had to go forward on their own in order to fund road improvements rather than being able to rely on the state or the federal government in order to provide for these needed improvements, but we did. It was, I think, the right thing to do. I look forward to the success. I think we’ve got a good case and we’re going to win. It is frustrating for me and I think for many people who drive the 347 every day that we are still paying lawyers and court fees on something that we could be building roads. I know the county has spent over $1 million in legal fees. Those moneys could have been used to build roads. It’s frustrating when you get those delays, but more importantly there are people seriously injured, sometimes even killed, along those roads and that is just, I believe, inexcusable that we’re tied up in court on something that we could correct if we’re given the chance. The good news is the courts continue to let us collect the half-cent sales tax, and we have somewhere around $23 million, $24 million already collected. When we win our lawsuits, because I’m an optimist and I believe we will win our lawsuits, we should be able to get in the final design and construction very quickly. The good news for the city of Maricopa is that two of the high-priority projects are in the city of Maricopa, basically – the widening of 347 and the construction of the East-West Corridor. The East-West Corridor connects Maricopa with Casa Grande and gives us an alternative way to get over to I-10. More importantly, when Lucid is in their manufacturing, it gives the people of Maricopa a very convenient and expedited way to get over to that job market.

What are you looking forward to working on in 2020?
I think there is a great opportunity to continue with more economic development wins. We want to see the Nikola project break ground, and I have no doubt that it’s going to break ground. There are other big projects I would love to be able to mention today, but they’re not available and we don’t want to have loose lips that sink ships type syndrome. I think it’s going to be a 2020 that’s full of additional wins for economic development. Plus, once those manufacturing companies get into operation, we’re going to be very aggressively going after the supply chain. I think the supply-chain services and providing for those manufacturing is a great opportunity for the city of Maricopa and other communities to have those local businesses in there. I believe that it’s going to be very important to follow the future Interstate 11. We’re working on the federal legislation in order to have it designated from Wickenburg all the way down to Nogales a single route. Once the federal designation is given by federal highway I believe that’s going to cement into that route and we’ll be able to move forward with design and construction.

That’s been kind of a political fireball for you in Hidden Valley. They pretty much mind their own business until they feel threatened by something. Is that something you would tell your successor about and give them guidance on how to deal with the situation?
I certainly believe that you have to represent the people. I understand where the people from Hidden Valley and Thunderbird Farm and those areas out in there are coming from. They have moved out there oftentimes to enjoy the solitude and the quietness of the country. I appreciate that. But I’ve been quite a proponent for projects in that area. I campaigned on those. When people put me into office for things that I campaigned on, I don’t feel necessarily it’s the right thing to do to change course. I truly believe it’s going to work for the best. When it comes to noise and pollution, most of our cars they predict in the future are going to be electric. I don’t know that they’re going to hear anything, maybe a hum would be at the most. I’ve also been a big proponent of Palo Verde Regional Park that is on the western edge of Pinal and Maricopa County. When we’re competing with states like California, Texas, Colorado, Washington and Oregon for jobs, a lot of those have workers that participate in outdoor activities, whether it’s hiking or mountain biking, etc. This is a park that, when it gets into operation some years down in the future, will be about three times the size of South Mountain Regional Park. That will provide a great opportunity for people in this area to get that good outdoor recreation. We want to create healthy counties, and one of the ways you create healthy counties is providing an abundance of recreation opportunities. We have a beautiful county, a beautiful state, and why not get out an enjoy it.


This story ran, in part, in the December issue of InMaricopa.