Mayoral Candidate, Joe Winfield, recently sat down with LOVE for an interview. We will publish the interview in three separate articles over the next three days.
Why do you want to be mayor of Oro Valley?
WINFIELD: I don’t believe the community is being well-served by the current mayor and council. In particular, I would like to give more attention to our Parks and Recreation program, specifically, providing amenities for children and families. I also value living within our means. I‘m concerned about the escalating budget of the Town and believe that we can do a better job at reigning in costs. I’m concerned about the community’s voice not being heard. I've heard from many individuals expressing frustration about being ignored by their elected officials and I can empathize because I've felt that way, too.
As an example, look at the General Plan, Your Voice our Future. There was considerable time and effort put into reaching out to the community, soliciting their ideas. Other members of the community then took those ideas and articulated them into a vision and goals, policies and objectives that speak to a variety of elements of our community, such as the character of our community, the physical character, what it should look like, and that translates into land use and zoning. I’m concerned that the mayor and council are not listening to the community. They’re not listening because of the amendments that they’ve made to the General Plan and the numerous zoning changes.
Those are some of the specific things that have drawn me into the race and why I want to serve as mayor.
Why do you believe that you will be a more effective mayor than Satish Hiremath?
WINFIELD: I believe I’ll be a more effective mayor for a variety of reasons.
(1) I’m a very people-oriented person. I enjoy working with people. That includes individuals who don’t necessarily share my point of view. In fact, I value different points of views and perspectives. I spent much of my career working with communities convening various organizations and groups to help find common ground, to help facilitate conversation, to go through a planning process in terms of identifying a vision, goals, and objectives, and working together to implement those ideas. So I’m very comfortable working with a variety of groups and individuals and inviting conversation. Working in a collaborative community-based manner is important to me and I believe as a mayor that this is a skill-set that can be very valuable in terms of bringing all stakeholders to the table.
(2) I also have, over my career, been responsible for managing budgets. I pride myself in working within budget. In fact just recently, when working for the Forest Service, the budget historically had challenges. They developed a pattern of deficits and since I’ve been serving as a Recreation Staff Officer, I was able to turn around a $600,000 deficit into a $1 million dollar surplus. So I’ve worked with budgets and I value and honor the fact that it’s taxpayers money. I look for opportunities to work efficiently, effectively, and to provide the public with a good value for their money.
(3) I’ve also worked hard over my career at leveraging dollars. In fact, for about 20 years, I had a relatively small budget because the intent was for us to find the funding, whether that was through grants or other non-federal sources. And then by acquiring those grants or working with organizations, we were able to leverage funds so that $1.00 would turn into $3.00 or $5.00 because of investment coming from various sources. The idea was really to have as little government funds in the project as possible. It was a partnership approach bringing private funds and public funds together.
What is the first thing that you will try to do as mayor?
WINFIELD: There’s really a number of things I’d like to do but I think one of the first things is to bring a play structure to Naranja Town Park and James D. Kriegh Park. When I was on the Parks Advisory Board, there was a survey that was done in our community and there was a list of items that individuals who responded to the survey said was important to them. At the top of that list was playgrounds and play structures. To me, it’s a shame…I think it’s been maybe 15 years since we had a new play structure in our community.
In addition to that, the golf course is something that needs attention. The current mayor and council have been entrenched in their original decision. They seem to be doubling down on continuing to invest significant monies into the golf course. I think that the path they are on is not the path we should be on. But I believe there are solutions. A good place to start is the National Golf Foundation Study and working with the community to reach a sensible solution that protects property values and provides an amenity for all residents to enjoy.
In addition, I want to moderate growth. I would approach that by simply putting a moratorium on any amendments or rezonings and letting our community take a breath on the amount of development that has been occurring. I’m not suggesting that we don’t need development or that development would need to stop, but that we would comply and follow the current land use and zoning.
I think another area that I would want to focus on is the town budget. It’s increased significantly during this mayor and council’s tenure…83%. To me, it’s irresponsible and I would want to begin immediately looking at the budget. I would recommend a hiring freeze for 90 days to take stock of the current organizational chart and determine what positions are absolutely necessary and what positions we may be able to live without and bring the budget back to a more reasonable level.
Part 2 will be published tomorrow.