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Sahuarita Town Council candidates Q&A

Seven candidates are seeking three open seats in the Sahuarita Town Council race. A candidate is elected by receiving a majority of all votes cast during the primary election Aug. 28. A general election will be held Nov. 6 if not all seats are filled in the primary. It is a non-partisan race. The council will elect a mayor from among its ranks after the new candidates take office. The candidates were asked to introduce themselves and lay out their priorities when in office. The answers have not been edited.

Kara Egbert

I have been honored to serve the Sahuarita residents for nine years. During that time Sahuarita has been successful in business and home building as well as providing great services to residents. I am seeking re-election to continue the direction and strong economic development pace we are achieving.

I support policies that continue to make Sahuarita a business and development friendly town. New businesses brings jobs and strengthen the town economy. I will work towards being the best government organization to do business with, will continue to provide workshops for small-business owners that assist them in staying successful in our community; and will reach out to businesses looking to locate within our town boundaries. A strong vibrant business economy allows our town to provide services to the residents and makes Sahuarita a great place to live.

Sahuarita needs a gathering place - a location that will provide entertainment, restaurants, businesses, retail and recreation. It needs to be an area that families come and play and stay for ice cream. A place that you can gather with friends, appreciate a nice meal and enjoy the atmosphere and entertainment. An area where our town comes together for special events and builds traditions. I have served on a committee to develop this idea, and I want to make this vision a reality so all have a central place to gather.

I am a strong support of recreational facilities that serve our residents including sports fields, hiking trails and an all-inclusive park. I have voted to build fields and will continue to get additional ones to fill the growing users’ needs. I have collaborated with Pima County to continue the Anza Trail along the Santa Cruz River that will include trailheads in Sahuarita. I will work to ensure this trail is complete. Our town also needs an all-inclusive park, one that every child can play safely. I worked to approve an all-inclusive park in the town budget and it needs to be built. Children of all abilities should feel comfortable, safe and be able to recreate with their family and friends.

Vote for Egbert, let’s keep Sahuarita strong and successful.

Jessica Greer

As an eight-year resident of Rancho Sahuarita, I have been deeply connected to the town of Sahuarita long before its incorporation in 1994. My mother grew up in Continental and was a graduate from Sahuarita High School. I am currently a social studies teacher at Sahuarita High School.

Connected Communities, Common Values, and Sustainability

While Sahuarita has become a rapidly growing town, with the determination to transition from a “bedroom community” to a “self-sustaining city”; it has become increasingly important to include established residents into this growing picture. There are three main issues which Sahuarita faces, both as obstacles for continuous development, and opportunity for economic growth. First, we must connect our rooted rural community to the evolving suburban sprawl. As the town of Sahuarita continues to plan and strategize for the future, it must be representative of all Sahuarita citizens.

Second, Sahuarita must identify our common values. What do we share? What do we collectively value? Although, planned events and festivities play a crucial role in the quality of life within various neighborhoods, it does not fundamentally connect residents. The interdependency of our town can be found in our main resource, our students. Sahuarita Unified School District serves a complex student body. The unique challenges our district grapples with to accommodate an influx of students, and diverse demographics comes with an opportunity to connect these two communities. Focusing on delivering an equitable and excellent education is key to plugging families into this development.

Third, we must plan for sustainability. “Citizens are central” has become the mission of many towns and cities contending to compete in a global market. Diverse engagement and connected communities, is key to our town’s success. It is equally imperative that the power structures of Sahuarita resist “branding” our town from the standpoint of gentrification through exclusivity. There must be a prioritization of all of our students, as 29 percent of our population is under 18 years old. If sustainability is the goal, then our existing families and their students must be our target talent-pool and labor force. Connecting our communities by identifying our common values representative of all Sahuarita citizens, is vitally essential for planning a sustainable future.

(Greer is a write-in candidate.)

Ryan Huber

Karen and I have lived in Sahuarita for 12 years where we have enjoyed raising our four kids. We love it here and plan to be here forever. I have worked as an electrical engineer for 15 years, and this is my first time running for public office.

One issue facing Sahuarita is that the town and the school district have concentrated so much spending on amenities and schools near Rancho Sahuarita that residents who live in other parts of the town have felt put off and frustrated. As a member of the town council, I will advocate for better balance in determining the location of any new amenities to better serve the needs of all parts of the town.

A second issue is that the town has become too financially involved with attracting and retaining specific businesses. My priorities for spending would be the following: 1) protect and defend individual rights to life, liberty, and property; 2) keep roads and existing parks in good repair; 3) pay down debt and save for a rainy day; 4) without raising taxes, use the remaining funds to meet the most pressing needs for new roads or amenities. If the town were not directly spending over $1 million to construct the SAMTEC facility, more would be available for new amenities and roads. New business and restaurants should come here to meet the demand and desire of Sahuarita residents to shop and dine locally instead of up in Tucson, not because we use taxpayer money to subsidize them. Businesses, not the town, should pay for their own facilities.

A third issue is the high sewer rates for the area managed by the town. I support allowing developments outside the current designated area to connect to the wastewater treatment facility to help lower costs. I propose changing back to using the 3-month winter average method for determining usage. I will work with the other council members to find ways to reduce the rates to be at least competitive with what is charged in other areas of the town and throughout Pima County.

Mickey Miramontes

I am 31 years old and from Evanston, Wyoming. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Business Management at the University of Phoenix. I am a Marine Veteran of 11 years and a first responder at a local copper mine. I have lived in Sahuarita for a total of six years.

To me, the three biggest issues facing the Town of Sahuarita are pre-planning, putting into place actions for future sustainability, and timely economic development. It has been my perception that the Town of Sahuarita would greatly benefit from setting themselves up for significant future growth and development. Part of this development is acting on ensuring that the Town's roads are ready for growth, the parks and fields in every community can accommodate the demand from growing family's, and ensure that our amenities have a higher edge over the growing competition in other towns. I believe that thinking bigger sooner is in the best interest of the town and of the people that call Sahuarita home.

I plan to make the focus of my term the appropriate pre-planning that ensures we are prepared to make Sahuarita great. We can move forward in unity with residents, business owners, investors, and key stakeholders working together towards the best interests for the towns future. I will focus on ensuring that Sahuarita continues to be a perfect place to raise a family, a beautiful place to call home and a place where economic development and the spirit of unity are all one. I pride myself in living in a unique town with exceptional personality that puts its residents number one. Sahuarita is surrounded with great people and resources we are bound for greatness in the future.

Tom Murphy

I am running for reelection because I am passionate about serving my community. My family and I have made Sahuarita our home since 2003 as our final stop, culminating 42 years of combined military service for myself and my wife. I am committed to making our great town even greater.

There have been numerous positive developments since the beginning of my tenure on the town council in 2013, but there are always new strides to be made. The first opportunity that needs continued focus is the expansion of our economic development and workforce base. The recent recession showed us that we cannot rely solely on residential growth to advance our community. Revenues generated from ongoing retail, expanding our local workforce opportunities, and continued residential growth will provide the town with the necessary revenue to enhance the lifestyle of our residents.

The only way for economic development to move forward is by supporting expansion of our infrastructure. We need to ensure our roads are properly maintained, our water and sewer services can sustain growth, and that we grow a top-notch IT infrastructure. Sahuarita is already business-friendly, but now we must be business-ready.

Lastly, we need work for the good of our townspeople as a whole. The revenue we hope to achieve by focusing on our first two goals will help keep Sahuarita’s reputation as one of the safest towns in Arizona. Growing and improving our committed police force is key to keeping our town safe. Furthermore, we need to keep current with providing parks and other multigenerational amenities for all to enjoy.

I think I am an ideal candidate for town council because I look out for the best interest of everyone. When we, as a council, face challenging issues, I help create “win-win” solutions for all parties. As mayor these past two years, I have worked hard to be a goodwill ambassador for the town both regionally and with our partners in Mexico. I am committed to continuing this journey to create a sustainable future for generations of town residents to come. With your vote, I will strive to make dreams become reality.

Lora Nastase

I am a 13 year resident of Sahuarita, originally from Omaha, NE. I am a community volunteer, active in and invested in many organizations here. My platform, “One Community,” lists specific ways I will make Sahuarita a better place for everyone who lives, works, and plays here. www.vote-Lora.com

The three biggest issues facing Sahuarita are Infrastructure and Roads, Education, and the Division of Our Town. All three have a direct correlation to the incredible growth we are experiencing and depending on how we deal with them, will either be opportunities for success or will lead to our eventual downfall.

Growth is happening in Sahuarita, whether we like it or not. The Town Council has the ability to help direct that growth through the infrastructure and road projects they approve. For instance, the road currently under construction which will connect Duval Mine Road/Nogales Hwy and Old Nogales/Quail Creek Crossing is vital to our town and we should look to our state and federal government for funds to build the bridge and finish the job. What is currently a “road to nowhere” has the potential to be a life-saving artery which will save time for police and rescue vehicles servicing our neighbors in Quail Creek and Madera Highlands. The route will encourage shopping and the utilization of the businesses along that corridor and additionally will bring our community closer together as it will be easier to access various spots around town.

Ensuring that ALL the children in Sahuarita receive a quality education and that our town is supporting our school district is crucial. Excellent schools draw well-educated workers here and therefore are attractive to businesses. Superior schools address the variety of interests and skills of their students and prepare them for the next step in life whether it is moving directly into the workforce or some other level of post-secondary education. We all benefit from educating our children well. Schools are the center of any community and as a result, can help transform the communities they serve.

Our town is not just a pocket of varying interests in the form of neighborhoods; we are a vibrant, beautiful, diverse community. Finding ways to unite our community will be among my most important duties as a town council member.

Dalia Zimmerman

Having grown up on a farm as a child, serving in the USPHS as a young adult and now raising 2 children of my own, I know the importance of hard work and determination. I want to put those traits to work for a safe and prosperous future for Sahuarita.

Sahuarita is facing tremendous growth and an influx of new businesses. This is encouraging and exciting, but we need to continue to have a forward thinking, fiscally responsible vision. I believe we need to concentrate on three essential areas.

First, having a safe town is an essential part of fostering a strong community and an enticing place for businesses. Families want to be able to enjoy the great weather and natural beauty of the area without fear of crime. Businesses want to know they can operate safely and that their investments will be secure. This can be accomplished by continuing to invest in our police and fire departments and by expanding collaborations with other municipalities such as the sheriff’s office, border patrol, and local schools.

Second, having a strong infrastructure is vital for growth and development. This includes roads, water and utilities. While our infrastructure is good now, we need to look at future growth and make sure that our utilities can meet and exceed that growth. A fiscally responsible plan is to invest in small repairs and infrastructure improvements now, to avoid larger, costlier repairs in the future.

Finally, having a town that can be highly competitive and desirable for new and existing business growth is vital in today’s ever changing economy. I applaud our town for the efforts to invest in our local businesses like establishing the shark tank, marketing talks, SCORE partnerships, and chamber of commerce partnerships. It is important to understand the needs of our small business owners, so we can help them continue to grow and thrive in our town, while also enticing new large businesses.

These are the issues that I want to prioritize and invest my time in. Sahuarita is already a wonderful place to live, work, raise a family and retire in, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve and be even better. I want to work hard with the community to make Sahuarita that best it can be!

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