By Chris Limberis
WHEN PIMA COUNTY Supervisor--and gentleman--John Even died in April 1997, Brenda Even gathered her family, including a baby granddaughter, and marched downtown to claim his office.
In her seventh year on the Tucson Unified School District Board and with well established Republican credentials, Brenda Even made a show of her application for the District 4 job that her husband performed with courage and grace despite his battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
But 22 other people--professionals, has-beens (ex-state Sen. Bill DeLong) and wannabes (Fred Ronstadt, who later won a Tucson City Council seat)--also lined up for the District 4 job John Even won handily in 1996. Only two excused themselves in deference to Brenda Even: DeLong, a longtime friend; and Lee Davis, a friend who was the surprising loser to Paul Marsh in the 1992 District 4 Republican primary.
But the supervisors appointed commercial real-estate salesman Ray Carroll to fill the vacancy. And Brenda Even learned she was not on the southside, where an inexperienced Carmen Cajero could expect to fill the legislative seat vacated when her husband "Nayo" died, and then hold the office, despite mediocre performance, until she chose to retire.
No right of title exists in eastside county politics.
The supervisors were badly split over the District 4 appointment. It was telling that John Even's chief aide, Barbara Huffstetler, also sought the job. She got as close as Brenda Even. Separate motions of nomination by second-term Supervisor Mike Boyd, a Republican, for Even and Huffstetler failed for lack of seconds.
Tense jockeying worked to Carroll's advantage. A Republican convert and favorite of three-term Democratic Supervisor Raul Grijalva, Carroll squeaked by when Lori Godoshian, following state law that gives clerks a rare appointment vote, broke the tie created when Democrats Dan Eckstrom and Sharon Bronson dissented.
Publicly, Brenda Even went about her business and her duties on the TUSD Board, which rivals that of the Amphitheater School District as the worst in town. Privately, she was bitter. Bitter toward supervisors and offended that anyone, including the press, would question why she should be appointed.
Her campaign to oust Carroll for the final two years of John Even's term, through 2000, began immediately.
APPOINTEES GENERALLY DON'T fare well on the Board of Supervisors or Tucson City Council. The last one in District 4, Republican Pat Lopez, was punted by Reg Morrison in 1984 after a short time in office. Eckstrom has been the notable exception. He was appointed in 1988 in southside District 2 when Sam Lena resigned to run then-Gov. Rose Mofford's Tucson office.
Carroll likes the job. And now he's battling Even and Ken Marcus, an accountant who also sought the appointment in 1997, in the September 8 GOP primary election.
District 4 includes Tucson's eastside, the retirement community of Green Valley, Mount Lemmon, and the developing valleys--Tanque Verde and Rincon. It's been a Republican bastion since the Board of Supervisors was expanded from three to five offices in 1972. Only Republicans have represented District 4, where the GOP outnumbers Democrats 47,463 to 35,035.
The job Even and Marcus want to take away from Carroll pays $52,000 a year, plus top-flight benefits and a taxpayer-provided vehicle. Taxpayers also provide each supervisors with a staff of about four that operates on an annual budget of roughly $225,000.
Here's a closer look at the candidates:
Raymond Carroll, 36, says he's shaped and guided by his "family faith and upbringing. We are composites of our customs, habits and beliefs.''
Born and raised on Chicago's southside, he's the fourth and youngest of the Carroll kids, whose father was a Mayor Daley Democrat who rose from a fleet-shop worker to deputy commissioner for fleet management. Carroll's mother is a retired Cook County nurse.
A bit of a jock, Carroll was a linebacker and fullback for Morgan Park High School, where he graduated in 1980. He also boxed at a Chicago club and in Denver, where he graduated from Regis University, a small Catholic school, in 1984.
It's with self-deprecating boxing stories that Carroll sometimes breaks the ice at political forums and engagements.
He had to give up fighting, one of his stories goes, because of injuries to his hands. The refs kept stepping on them.
Carroll majored in philosophy at Regis and dated his future wife, Ann Touche of Tucson, during their senior year. He hit the road for Phoenix when he graduated, and began selling cars for the Culliver dealerships.
"It was hot but fun. The last car I sold was to myself,'' says Carroll, who took his savings to Tucson.
He worked at Employer Dental Plan and Casa de los Niños before joining the commercial real-estate firm Grubb & Ellis, where his career as an industrial agent lasted until his appointment to the Board of Supervisors.
He had looked to government service before. He served on the city housing appeals board. In 1994 he switched from the Democratic Party to Republican. He was a rare Democrat in Tucson Country Club Estates, where he and his wife and three kids live near his in-laws. Carroll made the switch while considering making a run for the Board of Supervisors in 1996. He ended up voting for John Even.
A health scare also intervened. Carroll became sick with hepatitis after he stepped out of a cab and into a puddle of contaminated water while on a family trip to Mexico.
Carroll secured the District 4 appointment in June 1997 with his pledges, particularly to Grijalva, that he would oppose the 5,238-acre Canoa Ranch development proposed for south of Green Valley. He also pledged to support Grijalva's ideas for the reconfiguration and management of the county's sprawling healthcare system.
Specifically, Carroll has voted to keep a citizens' committee in charge of first-line oversight of the $233.7 million health system, which includes Kino Community Hospital, Posada del Sol nursing home, the county health department and the county's HMO.
He also has supported the health system's controversial CEO, Dr. Richard Carmona.
On the Canoa Ranch development issue, Carroll has struck out on his own to explore a buyout of the property, for which he's proposing a possible western museum affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.
Carroll also earned his "green" Republican marks by supporting a resolution that opposed a federal land swap that would have allowed mining in the Santa Rita Mountains.
But for all the environmentalism he espouses, Carroll, his family and his supporters have raked in big cash from developers, construction interests and land speculators on his way to building the biggest--by far--campaign treasury in the District 4 race. Carroll had $57,176 through the first reporting period ending May 31. He's raised another $35,000 since. Even, in contrast, was struggling with $28,190, while Marcus had $6,924 through May 31. The next finance reports are due August 27.
The Carroll machine has been aggressive. Critics, including Marcus and those in the Even camp, say Carroll went over the top with his District 4 mailings at taxpayer expense. In the spring, Carroll sent a constituent survey, complete with picture. He sent a follow-up card recently. It also included a photo of the happy pol.
Carroll defends the survey and the follow-up, but concedes they may have come a little late. Still, Carroll underspent his $225,112 supervisorial budget for the 1997-98 fiscal year that ended June 30 by more than $26,000.
There are times when Carroll seems apologetic, apparently for an early brash manner that he knows won't fly in this current special-election campaign. On the stump and in his literature, Carroll says he's learned some hard lessons. One was that he shouldn't have trashed Republican precinct committee reps last year when some questioned his credentials and did their own trashing of Carroll's top aide, Scott Egan.
Carroll also knows that he probably came on too strong a year ago on perceived and real county ethical lapses. He was particularly off target in an attack on Democrat Dan Eckstrom. But since then he's learned he can work with Eckstrom, even though they've split on two annual budget votes.
It's on the budget, set by the Democratic majority last week at a record $747 million, that Carroll has been Mr. Republican. He's worked to identify cuts and pushed for tax cuts, albeit minor reductions.
The other Illinois native in the District 4 race, Even received degrees from the University of Illinois and Indiana University before coming to Tucson more than 30 years ago.
Here she earned a master's degree in counseling and guidance from the University of Arizona, as well as her doctorate in secondary education and counseling from the UA. She has four grown children.
Even had a 14-year career at the UA as a guidance instructor, administrator and assistant professor. She's also had a private counseling and mediation practice and is a real-estate and business investor.
Nearly always bright-eyed, Even, 59, can go from warm to ice-cold at the sound of a question.
She can turn off even natural allies, as she did last month at a gathering of elite real-estate professionals.
Like Marcus, Even has tried to portray Carroll as a Republican-come-lately who doesn't merit support. Apparently, in her opinion, only she has the experience necessary to do the job.
She was elected to the Tucson Unified School District Board in 1990, and she and her lawyer husband made up an education team. He served on the Pima Community College Board, first as an appointee, then as an elected member.
Brenda Even has never been one for much public disclosure. Early in her first term, she was annoyed that the media protested her secret meeting of the School Board held on a weekend at her Woodland Avenue home. The TUSD Board also has been cited for violating the state Open Meeting Law on more than one occasion, but the Attorney General's Office has administered less than slaps on the wrist.
Against weak competition, Even won a second School Board term in 1994. But in that four-person fight for two seats, Even mustered only 28.9 percent of the vote.
This summer, she has joined TUSD Board President Joel Ireland and her key ally, Gloria Copeland, in rearranging administrations at a number of schools. The moves, which in some cases violated TUSD policy, have been viewed by critics as meddling. Reassignments of assistant principals at Tucson High and Santa Rita High drew fierce responses from parents and staff.
Even has attacked the county budget increase and the expected tax increase (tax levies and rates will be set August 17). Last month she voted yes, unsuccessfully, against TUSD's $330.9 million budget, one that increased spending by 5 percent. Still, that budget trimmed combined taxes slightly for homeowners in TUSD.
Even has dissented on some other TUSD budgets. But she's also voted to jack up spending. Since she's been on the School Board, the TUSD budget has skyrocketed to the current $330.9 million, from $209.8 million in 1990-91. Tax rates have risen 51 percent.
Voters will find it difficult to know what Even will do if elected. Name the issue and she'll promise to "look" at possible solutions, "study" or "examine" them once elected.
She has staked out a few positions, however. On transportation, she emphasizes the need for grade-separated intersections on busy corridors. And she has revived the idea of a Rillito-Pantano Parkway, which voters thought was folly and crushed in 1984. And while a Snyder Road bridge crossing Sabino Creek is mired in controversy, Even suggests an extension of Sunrise Drive, also a contentious proposal that helped ignite opposition to the 1986 transportation plan, to be paid with a sales tax (which voters also killed).
On Canoa Ranch, Even has not revealed what she would do. But since she and her supporters have long claimed that only she can carry on the "legacy" established by her husband, she might lean toward favoring it. John Even voted last year to support Fairfield's first Canoa rezoning of 298 acres.
Brenda Even has ridiculed Carroll's western museum proposal for the Canoa Ranch.
She has not supported the controversial reworking of the development ordinances, which would further restrict use of property within one mile of parks and preserves, and on hillsides.
Even's "look, study, examine" posture extends to subjects she knows about--like healthcare. Surprisingly, she has not taken positions on the county healthcare system. If elected, she wants to study Kino, the healthcare commission and Dr. Carmona.
That strategy also includes law enforcement, a key issue in District 4. She says she wants to study just what it is each officer does.
The only thing missing from Ken Marcus is a pocket protector. Hand him one and he'll probably use it and laugh along--with the kind of laugh he gives when he tells Republican audiences that, no, he's not related to Democratic City Councilwoman Janet Marcus. He doesn't mind being a little nerdy. He's supposed to be. He's an accountant.
The son of a furniture and dry-goods merchant, Marcus grew up with a brother and sister in Nogales. The family business, started by a grandfather, is now closed, but the Marcus family maintains property there. His mother lives in Green Valley.
Drawn to ranch work, Marcus earned a bachelor's degree in dairy science from the UA and worked in agricultural extension offices. He received his MBA, also from the UA, in 1990.
Marcus first got into Republican politics during President Gerald Ford's campaign, which included a stop in Nogales in 1976. Marcus and his wife, Wendy, also have served in several Republican Party positions. He and Wendy, who completed law school last year, have two daughters.
In 1989 Marcus joined Cope Systems, acquired by Bell & Howell a year and a half ago. He's the manager of finance for the company's Tucson office, which is closing because of consolidation.
Marcus, too, sought the appointment to fill a year and a half of John Even's term. His only support came from first-year Democrat Sharon Bronson. This time around, Marcus paused briefly while Republican state Sen. Keith Bee decided if he was going to run for the supervisorial seat. When Bee opted to stay in state office, Marcus kicked off his run.
Thoughtful and enamored of details that border on esoteric for some voters, Marcus has echoed much of Bronson's attack on the county healthcare system.
Marcus' calls for fiscal responsibility range from the big and obvious--Kino's $27 million in bills--to the tiny, by county standards--$15,000 to pick up trash on Mount Lemmon.
His is a style, generally, of a good-guy accountant who may be too good for crummy county politics. But he's allowed himself to become bogged down with some of the campaign's petty issues. He's allowed his campaign to take hits at Carroll's aide and friend, Scott Egan.
Ever the detail man, Marcus appropriately titled, with the term expiration, his nominating petitions, while Carroll and Even had to scramble at the last moment and redo theirs. But Marcus then sent out a press release that seemed to proclaim himself the victor.
And last week he wasted time trying to get the county to cite Carroll for not putting the campaign committee notice on a mailer. The required notice was there, though it was small and in an odd spot.
On the meatier issue of Carroll's survey and follow-up card, Marcus says the appointed incumbent "crossed the line.
"It all came after he announced he was running for election," Marcus says. "The franking privilege should have stopped then."
With far less money than his opponents, Marcus is a sort of replay of Paul Marsh, the under-funded, nerdy former Montgomery Wards worker who walked long and hard, and door-to-door, to stun Lee Davis and Reg Morrison in 1992. But unlike Marsh, Marcus actually knows the details of county government.
Still, much of his campaign is retro. He faults Carroll and other supervisors for a variety of things that are done deals. Including some that were done before Carroll climbed aboard--Kino and its debt, the Major League spring-training complex, county transportation bonds.
He says Carroll has "abdicated'' his authority by giving healthcare oversight to the unelected commission.
While he praises the taxpayer-financed Tucson Electric Park, spring-training home to the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox, Marcus says the county should never have proceeded with the $37-million complex.
"The county should not be in the baseball business," Marcus says. "The ballpark itself is a nice facility, but it should have been built downtown (instead of on county property west of Kino Hospital on East Ajo Way).
Marcus, in a position shared with Bronson, is still battling the $350-million transportation bond issue voters approved in November. Marcus favored a pay-as-you-go plan using the county's increased share of state gas taxes known as Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF).
"We've tied up our HURF funds for the next 20 years," Marcus complains.
Carroll, who calls himself the "poster boy" for the transportation bonds, says the voter-approved debt was the way to go because it enabled the county to get going faster and thus take advantage of better interest rates, construction costs and to more quickly grab right-of-way acquisition.
But Marcus counters that borrowing costs will eat up what could have been poured in asphalt and says the build-out time for the rival plans was only three years.
Marcus also opposes any mandatory set-aside for public art, now at 1 percent of public construction projects. While he supports public art, Marcus says he opposes giving the Tucson Pima Arts Council $8 million, including 10 percent for administration.
With his current employer shutting down, Marcus says he knows the county and the city must work harder and smarter to attract quality jobs. He questions whether the county should be paying for job-training programs run by outside agencies. And he wants to create a high-tech zone like North Carolina's research triangle.
But he says the county must start by cutting property taxes, now at about $5.20 per $100 of assessed valuation.
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