My campaign encountered a set of circumstances that it was unable to overcome in the time available. Three of those circumstances were:
- State-Mandated Election Rule Changes
- Voter Apathy
The timing of the election and the mandated ballot process had the effect of turning the Oro Valley local election into a “partisan” election format. This, in turn, had the effect of marginalizing the second largest group of registered voters in Oro Valley – The Independents. Many of them assumed that their mail-in ballots would arrive in their mail box just as usual, but that did not happen. Some found the new process too confusing to get a ballot in time to vote. This resulted in a single digit voter participation rate for Independents in the election versus an historical rate of 30 to 40%.
- Voter apathy is high across our country and our community. Too many voters vote in reaction to something happening that affects them personally instead of voting proactively to influence decisions and direction of their community before it happens. Fortunately, a recognition of the need to be better informed and proactive in making opinions known is growing in our community and will play out in future community discussions, town council meetings and voting.
- Candidate Endorsements
I made a conscious decision to NOT accept any endorsements from any groups, organizations or Political Action Committees (PACs). As a result, my campaign had considerably less funding available in comparison to incumbents. Endorsements of candidates running for office are legal, but citizens – ( although candidates already well-know) - must remember that the stated purpose of a PAC, or other special interest group, is to influence political outcomes and support the special interests of their members.
This must change. A Mayor and a Council is elected to represent the citizens of the entire Town of Oro Valley. This election saw a very large increase in endorsements to incumbents from Developers, Land Brokers, Builders, Real Estate Associations, Professional Associations, etc. This is all a matter of public record and can be viewed by any interested citizen by accessing required candidate financial records filed with the Town Clerk’s office for this – and for previous campaigns. A review of this information may help the larger community understand where to focus their attention and to proactively influence upcoming decisions currently under consideration by the town leadership – which will highly impact the future direction of Oro Valley.
It is very unfortunate that Mayor Hiremath – in his response to the election results – chose to continue his established practice of attempting to marginalize any opposition to his position or views by falsely labeling those with different views as the “WHINY MINORITY”. Mr. Mayor – this group is not a minority in any sense and is actually the “AWAKENING MAJORITY” of the citizens of Oro Valley. People are beginning to seek and understand the facts behind the “headline statements” often made in public that “all is well” in Oro Valley. This may not be true when you actually listen to the community-wide MAJORITY.
I believe that Oro Valley will continue to thrive and prosper due to the influence and power of the citizens that actively care about what happens in the community.
Oro Valley Resident Pat Straney was candidate for Mayor in this year's election.