Guest opinion (new)

On Tuesday, Nov. 3 residents of Pima County and Tucson have to make a few simple decisions: yes or no on red-light cameras, Tucson City Charter changes, school overrides and bonds, Democrats or Republicans on the Tucson City Council, and especially, seven county bond infrastructure propositions at a price of $815 million.

“No” voices cry loudly, “It will raise our taxes!” But is $17.58 a year for an average-priced home such a burden? How much does a pizza cost these days? Can’t we afford that? Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas and many other faith and community leaders think so and have signed on as supporters of all seven bond measures.

The 2015 County Bond Election finds our community again divided. Those on the “no” side tell us not to trust our government. They raise the specter of rising taxes, debt, government waste and shady politicians. They don’t question the need for better infrastructure, but say there should be other ways to fund it. Their signs are everywhere: VOTE NO! There were even robo-calls to cellphones telling us to vote “no.” Who’s paying for that?

Do we let the roads continue to crumble and our parks, libraries, museums and other infrastructure decay as well? For the Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC) this is a moral decision for our community. Do we invest in the common good or do we just complain?

The leaders at PCIC researched the county bonds several years ago, and attended dozens of meetings. We wanted to make sure there were items in the bond that would help move people out of poverty and help our most vulnerable families benefit from a big county investment. They are: a building for JobPath, a program that has moved 1,400 families through training and out of poverty into living wage jobs; a food bank for Sahuarita; money for affordable housing and neighborhood reinvestment for some of our most stressed neighborhoods; and funds for libraries, parks, bike lanes, open space and access for all to our number one tourist attraction — the Sonoran Desert.

We joined a coalition, the Yes on Pima County Bonds coalition that includes the business community and the backers of all 99 projects included in the seven propositions. PCIC has held more than 35 civic education academies to discuss the bond in congregations, schools and community centers. We gave the “No” folks time when they showed up to present their reasons, and we did it all in a civil, respectful and democratic way.

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Why does the PCIC support the bond? Theologian Walter Brueggemann writes in “The Liturgy of Abundance, the Myth of Scarcity” that when we are selfish toward one another, like the Pharaoh filling his grain silos while the Jews starved, we work against God’s plan.

Our community has both a moral and economic decision to make on Nov. 3. As Pastor Randy Mayer of The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita told the Pima County supervisors, “This is our opportunity to leave Pima County better than we found it. Let’s invest in ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. ... Let’s pass all seven county bond propositions.”

The Rev. Leah Sandwell-Weiss and Ernie Lujan are leaders with the Pima County Interfaith Council and on the organizations’s executive team. Contact them at ernielujan@hotmail.com