Friday, October 9, 2015

Mail In Ballots Coming: Are Your Ready To Decide?

Yesterday, Pima County mailed ballots to registered Oro Valley voters who are on their "vote-by-mail" list. The ballots are for the November 3 election.

There are two separate sets of decisions for voters. One involves whether to approve an additional property tax. If approved, the additional property tax will fund almost $800 million in bonds for Pima County. The bond money will be used for all sorts of things. Most, in our opinion, are simply "pork barrel" projects.

The other decision voters will make is whether Oro Valley voters want to retain the services of recalled officials Mayor Hiremath and Council Member Hornat, Snider and Waters; or replace them with Pat Straney as Mayor and Shirl Lamonna, Steve Didio, and Ryan Hartung for council. We did not list Doug Burke because he is simply not a viable candidate.

The Oro Valley Election is a head to head competition
On the ballot you will see that the Oro Valley election is head-to-head competition:
  • Straney v Hiremath
  • Didio v Waters
  • Hartung v Hornat
  • Lamonna (and Douglas Burke) v Snider
The election is a recall election
This is a recall election. It is not a regular election. It is happening because  thousands of registered voters signed petitions to give you the opportunity to vote on whether you want to retain the council majority in office.

At issue, is the judgment of the four recalled officials regarding the purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club.

"It's a matter of trust" to those seeking recall of the council majority
Those seeking recall assert that Mayor Hiremath and Council Members Hornat, Snider and Waters negotiated and drove home a deal with a major campaign contributor that lined his pockets and committed Oro Valley to millions in debt. They are also angered because these four raised the Oro Valley sales tax 25% to pay to pay for money-losing golf course operations. Many consider golf a "rich person's" sport. They object to the town's subsidizing such a luxury.

They also argue that the four rushed Oro Valley into the purchase without doing considered diligence and without truly engaging the community in this enormous decision. They assert that the four made the purchase despite hearing from a cross section of our community and from their own Parks and Recreation commission that the Majority-4 should not to rush into the deal.

They point out that the purchase had other major consequences. The purchased plunged Oro Valley into direct competition with private golf courses in our community. The purchase puts the town in competition with local restaurants. The purchase increases the town’s financial risk because the golf business is a money-losing business.

The incumbents stand by the purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club
Mayor Hiremath and Council Member Hornat, Snider and Waters assert that the purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club was a deal they could not refuse. It had to be rushed because the seller, a campaign contributor of theirs, HSL properties, could not buy the El Conquistador Country Club until the town approved the purchase of the golf courses. The purchase did not have to receive significant public vetting because the law does not require the voters to approve a land purchase.

The Majority-4 point to the control of land in the center of town as an important opportunity. They point to a clubhouse that they are turning into a community center as a great benefit to the community.

In fact, Mayor Hiremath is so bullish on the purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club that he considers the purchase one of the four great moments in Oro Valley history.

What serves the greater good?
The purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club was a seminal moment for Oro Valley. not because of the transaction itself, but because the purchase split the community. Never before has there been a recall election of four Oro Valley officials.

Mayor Hiremath stated at his "State of the Town Speech" on October 1 that a great town requires the united effort of all its people. He argued that people should go along with what is decided "for the greater good."

You now have your chance to opine through your vote: 
Did the purchase of the El Conquistador County Club serve the greater good?

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