Monday, August 24, 2015

Incumbents Must Address The Issues Raised By Their Recall Election

Oro Valley voters face a recall election decision on November 3. Do they want to retain Mayor Hiremath and council members Hornat, Snider and Waters? Or do they want to replace them?

Making this decision will be challenging. They will need to choose between two very different views regarding what this election is about.

The incumbents assert that voters should look at this election as if it were a general election. They assert, through their web sites, that the voter should judge them on their 5-year record of service (Source: web sites of the incumbents).

The challengers assert that this is not a general election. It is a recall election. The four incumbents should be replaced because of what the incumbents did during the past year.

There is a recall election because of a rushed purchase of golf courses from a major campaign contributor; and a decision to fund millions in losses through a sales tax increase. The purchase places Oro Valley in competition with private golf courses and restaurants.

Oro Valley's recall election is a reality because a large number of voters were so angst by this transaction that they expended enormous effort (see insert right) to make a recall election happen. They want Mayor Hiremath and Council Members Hornat, Snider and Waters replaced.

Specifically, they assert that these four elected officials acted improperly by:
  • Negotiating for and purchasing the El Conquistador Country Club
  • Hurrying the transaction
  • Basing their decision on last minute, possibly misleading information
  • Ignoring significant unfavorable citizen input
  • Negotiating for and purchasing the property from one of their major campaign contributors, thus lacking sufficient independence to make a decision on behalf of the people of the community
  • Signing an agreement that benefited this contributor by requiring the town to maintain the golf courses for decades
  • Purchasing a stream of millions of dollars of losses to fund the golf courses
  • Increasing the sales tax to pay for these losses
In response, the four incumbents and Oro Valley Town Administrator Greg Caton have asserted that the Town Of Oro Valley got a "bargain" sales price ($1million paid over three years) for the land and buildings, refurbished tennis courts, two swimming pools, and a clubhouse that the town is converting to a community center. They further assert that this is a better alternative than building a community center in Naranja Park. This is where the center was to be.

Voters must decide: Was getting a community center so important as to overshadow the manner in which it was done, the acquisition of golf courses and an increase in the sales tax?
As one recall supporter wrote us:
"Mayor Hiremath and Council Members Hornat, Snider and Waters have had total disregard for the wishes of the citizens. The fact is: Over 65% of all the citizen input on the El Con deal was 'don't do it'.
Council Member Hornat said; 'They [the people] don't make the decisions'.
My response is: 'Yes. You are correct; but your job is to reflect what the people want'.  The El Con deal brought to a head that the Majority-4 have no concern for anybody except their special interest community and those who agree with them."
Those who support the transaction include members of the El Conquistador Country Club, those who live on property abutting the golf course, and the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The voters need to hear directly from Mayor Hiremath and Council Members Hornat, Snider and Waters about the key issues:
  • Why did they feel that they were "independent" in making this purchase from a major campaign contributor? 
  • Why did they not order that detailed feasibility studies be done to compare the option of building a community center at Naranja Park to the purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club?
  • Why were they justified in committing future generations to debt by entering the Town Of Oro Valley into a several decade agreement to own and operate golf courses for the benefit of a private enterprise?
  • Why did they rush the decision without doing detailed due diligence or holding true public hearings?
  • In what way did they consider the obvious anger of at least half the community?
  • Whey did they feel justified in raising the sales tax to accomplish this? 
  • Why should the town, as a result, be in competition with private golf courses and restaurants in our community?
To date, the incumbents have chosen to not address these key issues. 
In fact, their websites indicate that they do not want to do so. Only one of the sites even mentions the purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club.

The purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club is what they need to talk about.

At some point they will need to answer these questions.

It will be up to the challengers to make them do so.

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