Ann Holden And Vicki Cox-Golder Duke It Out For The Chance To Take On Ed Moore.
By Jim Nintzel
ALTHOUGH DISTRICT 3 Republicans will choose between supervisorial candidates Vicki Cox-Golder and Ann Holden in the September 10 primary, there's a shadow hanging over their race: incumbent Ed Moore, who managed to dodge the Republican primary by getting his name on the general election ballot as an independent candidate.
In the free-for-all that's certain to follow the primary, either Cox-Golder or Holden will face both Moore and Democrat Sharon Bronson in the November general election.
Of all the races before Pima County voters, the race to replace Moore is this year's most dynamic. Mix 35,000 Democrats, 27,000 Republicans and 11,000 independent voters choosing between three candidates and the final outcome is impossible to predict. Round one will be decided in less than two weeks, when the GOP nomination is settled in the primary.
ULTIMATELY, BEING ON the Pima County Board of Supervisors means dealing with land. Supervisors approve rezonings, OK road and sewer projects, buy and sell land, set property tax rates and decide how our tax dollars are spent.
It's land use that most sets the two candidates apart in District 3. The 45-year-old Cox-Golder knows the land biz--she's made her living as a real estate broker for more than two decades. She says she's for controlled growth, while accusing Holden of being anti-growth.
Holden, a 42-year-old accountant, says she's for restrained growth and claims Cox-Golder is pro-growth.
"The way I see it, growth has controlled Tucson for the last two decades," Holden says. "Now it's time for someone to take control of growth."
Start, Holden suggests, with impact fees. Holden's position is straightforward: She wants upwards of $3,000 per new home, following the county staff's recommendation.
Cox-Golder wants to keep impact fees at $1,500 per new home--which is where she gets tripped up by one of her internal inconsistencies. When speaking to the GOP club, Cox-Golder says, "I don't believe growth needs to be subsidized on the backs of existing residents."
Quizzed about the statement later, Cox-Golder elaborates:
"Developers need to be made responsible to pay for...improvements. And maybe pay for the full impact, rather than passing it on to the homebuyer.... I'm not quite sure how to do that, but I know, having worked with builders in the past, they are willing to help out the community so that burden isn't passed along."
Asked how that can be done without impact fees, Cox-Golder says that "community facility districts" (CFDs) are being used by some developers to pay for infrastructure within developments. But, since homebuilders are already obligated to provide infrastructure within their projects, all a CFD does is allow the developer to avoid fronting the cost of infrastructure, which is passed along to homebuyers in the form of a regular CFD payment.
So, apparently an impact fee imposed by the county will drive the cost of housing too high, but a CFD charge created by the homebuilder is a reasonable expense.
Although she says she'd lobby the state Legislature to allow communities to enact impact fees for schools, Cox-Golder would rather ask voters to approve a half-cent hike in the sales tax to fund a transportation package. That same proposal has failed at the ballot box twice in the last decade.
Holden says Cox-Golder is beating a dead horse. The people have spoken, she says; why spend the money on an election to get shot down once again?
"The first step in restraining growth is to quit encouraging it," Holden said when she announcing her candidacy. "The second is to stop subsidizing it. And the third is to dispel the myth that a continued massive influx of people is somehow beneficial to more than a handful of current residents."
It's comments like those that leave Cox-Golder saying, "She sounds more like the Democrat in this race."
BUT START TALKING about crime-fighting, and all of sudden it's Cox-Golder who sounds like the stereotypical Democrat: spend, spend, spend.
"We need twice as many deputy hours on patrol as we currently have," Cox-Golder writes in Solutions To Create A Better County, a slick pamphlet in which she shares her views of government. "The current 30 percent of time on patrol needs to be increased to 60 percent."
According to sheriff department spokesmen, that 30 percent figure doesn't include time deputies spend actually responding to calls for help. In a community where there's 1.43 deputies per 100,000 people (the national average is 2.3), it's amazing deputies have that much time to patrol.
Confronted with this information, Cox-Golder backpedals and explains that she wants to double the number of deputies on the street.
"What I'm talking about-- raising 30 (percent) to 60 (percent)--is what it's going to take to do community policing in the city," she says. "And to do that you're going to have to double the police force."
Sheriff's department spokesman Asa Bushnell laughs when he hears Cox-Golder's suggestion.
"We are under the national average," he says. "But we don't need to double the force."
Where would Cox-Golder find the cuts to pay for her new cops?
"You have to make it a priority with the county budget," says Cox-Golder, who admits she doesn't know what she would cut "until I get in there." She hopes employees will come up with enough money-saving ideas that the cuts can be made through "pure efficiency."
But she does know what she'd like to spend more money on: In addition to more cops, she wants to increase spending to build more jail space, fund programs to provide jail inmates with job skills, and increase funding for prevention and intervention programs.
Cox-Golder does lay out some ideas for cutting government costs in her booklet, in which she writes:
"I believe Pima County government is too big, too centralized and too bureaucratic."
"We need to concentrate on doing fewer things better."
"Productivity improvements mean fewer workers are needed to do a better job. In the last three years, Pima County's work force has grown by approximately 600. We must reverse this trend to achieve a more efficient government."
Reading these kinds of comments, you might assume Cox-Golder thinks government is, well, in her own words, "too big." So what is she ready to cut?
"What I want to see is some efficiencies," she says. "That doesn't mean I'm going to cut workers. I just made that as a statement in my book. What I'm talking about is empowering employees."
Cox-Golder hopes county employees will come up with suggestions to help cut costs. She cites the case in the Amphi District, where employees were able to save about $80,000 in electric bills.
But $80,000 is chump change in Pima County's $600 million budget. There's just no way one can honestly suggest that "reinventing" government can result in the kind of savings Pima County would need to enact Cox-Golder's plans.
Holden can sometimes be just as elusive on cuts--she says she thinks some payments to non-profits can be trimmed without specifying any organizations--but she does identify one thing she would slice: the annual six-figure subsidy for the Copper Bowl. (Cox-Golder supports giving the game between $100,000 and $150,000.)
Holden is also honest enough to admit that with a steadily growing population, we're going to need a larger government to provide services to all the additional residents.
Holden says it's all part of the cost of growth: rising crime, rising taxes, overcrowded roads and a general decline in the quality of life for current Pima County residents.
"Too many of the policies of our current Board of Supervisors are geared to take care of people who haven't even come here yet at the expense of those who live here now," Holden says.
Compare that Cox-Golder, who recently told an audience of mortgage brokers that "Growth is important to every business and every industry in Pima County. In fact, I think growth is important to the government, because if you don't have growth, what you have is failing infrastructure. Or, to keep the infrastructure current, you have to raise taxes. You have to have steady growth to just maintain what we already have."
"If we keep growing, we increase the size of our infrastructure, which means we increase our needs," Holden says. "It's smoke and mirrors."
It's obvious Cox-Golder and Holden differ on issues facing the county. But since the candidates have made only two brief television appearances together, District 3 voters haven't really had a chance to compare the two. That means the primary may be decided by something else: money. And in that race, Cox-Golder is way out ahead.
VICKI COX-GOLDER has built herself a sleek and powerful political machine.
The Cox-Golder campaign is undeniably energetic; she's even borrowed a note from Republican presidential contender Lamar Alexander, adding an exclamation point to the end of her name on campaign stickers: Vicki!
Expecting to face Ed Moore in the GOP primary, Cox-Golder began laying the groundwork for her campaign more than a year ago. In June of last year, Cox-Golder opened her campaign committee and began collecting contributions. By May 31 of this year, Cox-Golder had raised more than $38,000. A new report, due at the end of this week, will show she's raised plenty more since.
But Moore proved to be a tricky target; using a loophole in Arizona election statutes, he got himself on the November ballot as an independent candidate while saying he was going to remain a Republican.
"The whole theory was, they were going to knock me out in the primary," says Moore. "The panzer divisions were over behind the hill. I turned in my nominating petitions and they brought them down to come get me, except I wasn't there."
Moore says Cox-Golder is a "puppet" of "business and development people"--the same crowd that once served as his benefactors, supporting him through the last two elections. Many of Moore's old allies have since decided to work against him, partly because he turned on them by supporting the anti-CAP Prop 200 in last year's city election and partly because he's generally considered to be bonkers.
A two-term member of the Amphi School Board, Cox-Golder has deep roots in the land game, which she got into when she was just 22 years old.
Over the years, she built her own realty company, Vicki L. Cox and Associates. The ambitious Cox-Golder honed her political skills within the real estate industry, serving stints as the president of the Tucson Realtors, the Arizona Association of Realtors and the Tucson Women's Council of Realtors (twice).
Her connections in real estate have provided the campaign with much of its money. Of the $33,854 she's received in contributions (she lent the campaign $5,000), at least $9,000 has come from real estate agents, mortgage brokers and the Realtors of Arizona Political Action Committee.
Many homebuilders are also represented on her list, including employees of A.F. Sterling, the Sundt Corp., Coventry Homes, U.S. Homes, Coscan Homes, Dominion Homes and Becklin Homes.
Combined, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, land speculators, contractors, homebuilders, bankers, engineers, architects, land-use lawyers and the real estate PAC have contributed about $22,500 to the Cox-Golder campaign--about two of every three dollars.
Cox-Golder has a long record of civic duty--she's a member of Tucson Horizons, the League of Women Voters and the Tucson Chamber of Commerce. She's a concealed-weapon-permit-carrying member of the NRA.
In 1976, she married rancher and land speculator Lloyd Golder III. The couple live in a 3,000-acre spread near Catalina, in northwest Pima County.
When Cox-Golder began putting her campaign together, she asked longtime friend Bill Arnold to be her manager. A real estate broker, Arnold knows how the play the land game himself.
They turned to a political specialist to help plan the campaign strategy: Bunny Badertscher, who runs Connect Consulting. Badertscher does campaign strategy for U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe and ran Gov. J. Fife Symington III's first campaign, helping Symington carve his image of a successful developer even while--as we now know, as a result of Symington's recent Bankruptcy--his developments were slipping into default.
Cox-Golder has paid Connect Consulting more than $8,500 for consulting work. In addition, she's commissioned several polls by Margaret Kenski, which cost more than $5,000.
Behind the wheel of her political machine, Cox-Golder is itching to take on Ed Moore. There's only one thing standing between her and the Republican nomination: Ann Holden.
WHEN ANN HOLDEN started talking about running for office, Cox-Golder says she met with her to try to talk her out of it. But Holden felt they were too far apart on the growth issue for her to abandon the race.
Holden is undoubtedly the underdog. As of May 31, her campaign had raised only $1,693 and only had $457 in the bank. In campaign finance reports due this week, she'll be lucky to have raised $6,000.
In the Holden camp is Emil Franzi, who contributes regularly to The Weekly. Franzi is often blamed for bringing Ed Moore to life in the first place; Franzi often admits he's the one "who hooked the electrodes to Moore's head and flipped the switch."
But relations between the men soured after a close 1988 primary, and now Franzi has become one of Moore's loudest critics.
Franzi met Holden in 1993, when the candidate made a failed bid for the Ward 3 Tucson City Council seat. He's volunteering his services this time out, mostly because he believes Cox-Golder is the candidate of the growth lobby.
A 42-year-old accountant, Holden worked in Tucson's revenue department for five years in the mid-'70s. Although she's never held public office, she's contributed her share of time to the GOP, working on campaigns for Sen. Jon Kyl and Gov. J. Fife Symington III.
While Holden says growth is out of control in Pima County, she doesn't blame the developers for the mess we're in.
"There are some responsible developers in this community," she says. "When we talk about cementheads, it makes them all sound like bad guys. None of them are bad guys--land speculators do what they do, they buy land and then try to sell it. What's bad is that our elected officials allow them to get away with a lot of things."
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