Six running for four seats on Sahuarita Town Council

Candidate air views on creating jobs, top issues facing the area
2013-02-16T00:00:00Z Six running for four seats on Sahuarita Town CouncilArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Meet the six candidates seeking four seats on the Sahuarita Town Council.

Primary ballots are arriving in mailboxes now for the nonpartisan, all-mail election. March 12 is primary election day.

Only one seat is contested. That race includes two incumbents, Gil Lusk and Joshua Matthews, and one newcomer, Don Woolley.

Duane Blumberg, Kara Egbert and Tom Murphy are running unopposed for their seats. Egbert declined to respond to the Star's candidate questionnaire.

2-year term, one open seat

Name: Gil Lusk

Age: 69

Employer: Retired National Park Service superintendent

Education: Bachelor's degree in American history and honorary doctorate in public service from Gettysburg College

Political experience: One year on the Sahuarita Town Council, eight years on the Flathead Basin Commission in Montana, three years with the Southeast Arizona Economic Development Group

How would you use your position to help businesses create jobs? I will support all efforts to help fund needed infrastructure to support Town Center so it can be developed, creating jobs and economic return to the town. The Conceptual Plan needs to identify new areas for future development of campus environments for technology and industry. We need to continue creating an environment that is welcoming for business; one that protects our interests but does not go overboard in bureaucratic procedure and regulation.

What is your strategy for smart growth? Sahuarita is developing a Conceptual Plan for the annexation of future lands, which details creation of a model community for living in a semi-arid environment. The plan will concentrate on new technologies, new building concepts, heavy emphasis on water management, rain harvesting, protection of major drainages for parks and habitat and population numbers consistent with the underlying environment. The plan will include additional lands for industry and light industry on well-planned campus environments.

What is the most important issue facing your town? Economic development and job creation are critical needs for maintaining a healthy and strong Sahuarita into the future. This, combined with a well-conceived groundwater management plan and work with the county and state in support of infrastructure needed for future development, represents the most important issue currently facing Sahuarita.

Name: Joshua Matthews

Age: 35

Employer: Engineer at Raytheon

Education: Master's in electrical engineering from Brigham Young University

Political experience: Sahuarita Town Council member (2012-2013), Sahuarita Board of Adjustments (2007-2012), Town Manager's Effluent Policy Committee (2010), Town Representative to the Pima Association of Governments Environmental Planning Advisory Committee (2011-2012)

How would you use your position to help businesses create jobs? I will continue to work toward code simplification to make it more accessible and friendly to businesses, particularly new, less experienced small-business owners. I will also continue to build relationships with the various stakeholders to come up with creative solutions for our town and our partners. I want to ensure Sahuarita projects a consistent and clear message: "We love businesses and we want you here!"

What is your strategy for smart growth? I have a three-fold plan to attract all types of business to our town: 1) Identify - Discover what makes us unique and what businesses would work well in Sahuarita. 2) Plan and Execute - Develop a plan and strategy with 5, 10, 25, and 50 year road maps and then execute it. 3) Adapt - Periodically, progress will be reviewed and assessed. Course corrections will then be applied as appropriate.

What is the most important issue facing your town? Understanding where the town is going over the next 50 years. Two issues are before the town whose effects will span decades. Namely, the current annexation effort and the future Sahuarita Farms development. As we work these issues, we must understand not only the path forward but also consider the unintended consequences our decisions may bring.

Name: Don Woolley

Age: 66

Employer: Retired from Raytheon Missile Systems

Education: B.S., EE

Political experience: Ran for state Senate in 2012, former LD2 chairman

How would you use your position to help businesses create jobs? Promote incentives: rebates, tax breaks, reduce regulatory burdens; help the town recruit businesses through direct contact, promote Sahuarita through the recruiting efforts under way by the state of Arizona in California, by working with our legislative friends in Phoenix. Make Sahuarita and its unique quality of life, location, and rail service in the Santa Cruz Valley a plus for light industry.

What is your strategy for smart growth? Smart growth calls for extreme planning by government (Agenda 21), which infringes on the freedoms of our citizens and inhibits business expansion and jobs. We need to keep our faith in the free-market economy that made America great, turn loose that economic engine in our town, and offer those government services to our citizens that do not intrude on their lives and inhibit their freedoms, and allows them to improve their quality of life in Sahuarita.

What is the most important issue facing your town? Jobs and water. We have got to expand our job base, increase the number of taxpayers, and therefore increase our revenue stream. We have a wastewater treatment plant to pay for, along with needed infrastructure for new businesses. And water will always be an important issue, but with project Renews, which is bringing CAP water to Sahuarita to replenish our aquifer, the town has taken a big step in the right direction.

4-year term, three open seats

Name: Duane Blumberg

Age: 68

Employer: Retired university faculty member and administrator

Education: doctorate in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin

Political experience: 3.5 years on Sahuarita Town Council, Mayor for 1.5 years; former Deputy Secretary of Economic Development for another state

How would you use your position to help businesses create jobs? The town has a sound economic development plan that focuses on attracting additional regional retail businesses in the short term and high-wage primary businesses in the long term. The current economy, based on the local retail and construction sectors, is not sustainable and is not a good match for the educational levels and professional experience of the residents. The town needs to continue to follow this plan over a substantial period.

What is your strategy for smart growth? While growth probably can't be controlled, it can be managed. Sahuarita is already a highly planned municipality with commercial development concentrated along the Sahuarita Road and Duval Mine Road corridors. The council has recently endorsed a proposal to investigate the potential of annexing land to the east of the present town boundaries, with emphasis on what living and working in this desert will be like in the future.

What is the most important issue facing your town? Economic development and diversification. The town needs to become a more regional retail/service destination and to attract primary businesses (those that sell their products, services, research largely outside the local area, and hence bring wealth into the community and don't require continuing local growth).

Name: Tom Murphy

Age: None provided

Employer: Community director at Rancho Sahuarita

Education: Associate's degree in management from the University of Maryland

Political experience: Eight years on the Sahuarita Unified School District Governing Board

How would you use your position to help businesses create jobs? I will continue to advocate and work to boost the economic diversification of the town that will create a sustainable future for generations of families to come. To achieve economic sustainability, the town will have to be both business friendly as well as business ready. I have been promoting for years the unique qualities of the town to investors, residents, homebuilders, retailers, medical providers and businesses.

What is your strategy for smart growth? The council has a responsibility to promote well-planned growth. Economic development and the funding and building of new public infrastructure, early in the development cycle will help ensure the goals of job creation, quality housing, and community and regional shopping are realized. My experience in the private and public sector, along with my in-depth knowledge of specific zoning plans, development agreements and infrastructure funding will allow me to make significant contributions in promoting economic development.

What is the most important issue facing your town? Economic sustainability. The town has identified a loss of potential sales tax upwards of 75% to surrounding communities. Land with public infrastructure to it would support additional commercial and residential opportunities. It would also provide additional employment prospects in aerospace, mining, travel and leisure and manufacturing jobs in "light industry." Creating a more vibrant and diversified local economy will enhance resident's quality of life and expand sales tax revenue to support an economically and culturally exciting place to live.

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