Four years ago, John Backer took on Steve Christy in the GOP primary for Pima County Board of Supervisors, District 4. He didn’t come remotely close to winning but he did impress a lot of people with his knowledge of the issues, strong work ethic and common sense approach.
Backer is back, and the way he figures it, he has a better chance since it’s just him and Christy in the primary this time around (Steve Diamond is the lone Democrat). Christy won just over 55 percent of the vote in 2016, while Backer (9 percent) and Marla Closen (36 percent) had the rest.
District 4 is monstrous and includes Green Valley and parts of Sahuarita, where Backer lives. (Disclosure: John and I have known each other for 10 years.)
That’s why I felt comfortable looking at him sideways and saying, “Wait — the Democrats rule the board, 3-2, and you’re taking on a dyed-in-the-wool Republican?”
John has his reasons. He didn’t like that Christy was a vocal supporter of Prop. 463 in 2018, a $430 million road bond that failed at the polls.
He didn’t like Christy’s support of $100,000 for American Airlines to secure non-stop flights from Tucson to New York in 2017.
He doesn’t like COPs — Certificates of Participation — that pay for projects but don’t require a vote. Backer calls it money laundering. Christy supports use of COPs in some circumstances.
There’s more, but you get the picture.
Backer also isn’t a fan of County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, and “would dump him” if given the chance.
“I think with Pima County having one in five people living in poverty and the road conditions and the deals that get done even when voters vote against them, he’s done a terrible job,” he says.
“I think the Board of Supervisors have abdicated their authority to him, and largely what he wants, he gets.”
I’d agree with that when you talk about the majority — the three Democrats. But, in his defense, Steve Christy — along with Ally Miller (Backer worked for her for a short time) — often find themselves on the losing end of votes.
Backer says the key to winning the election is to get people to pay attention to what’s happening. To that end, he has put together a series of videos on his site that look at lots of issues. Keeping that going after getting into office is important, he says.
Quick hits on the issues:
•He supports Operation Stonegarden grants — the federal grant the county rejected this year after 12 years of accepting it to aid law enforcement.
•Coronavirus: We have to try to preserve businesses. Green Valley has a vulnerable population and those people should be isolated, he says. And mandatory face coverings? “I would vote against requiring a mask because I believe in the people and they can make their own best decisions.” That’s in line with the Town of Sahuarita, out of step with Pima County.
•Fixing the roads: He says VLT (Vehicle License Tax) and HURF (Highway User Revenue Fund) are enough to get the job done. It just has to be a priority.
There’s a lot more to John Backer. If he doesn’t find his way into public service this time around, he won’t give up. Agree with him or not, the man cares.
(Find out more at BackBacker.org)
— Dan Shearer