Rich Offering

Republican Richard Genser Says He's Off And Running For The County Board Of Supervisors.

ON WHAT HE repeatedly praised as a "glorious day," Rich Genser bounded into his house with his wife Claire after their hike in the Ragged Tops northwest of Tucson and discovered a couple of phone messages.

One from a BBC reporter doing a story on sprawl and the other from The Weekly about his candidacy for the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

We're first.

But the BBC gal will not be disappointed. Genser, as always, is shootin' straight, and is not even remotely nervous or scared about offending the political power boys who are typically and easily both offended and scared.

"The big money guys have pissed me off," Genser says, complaining that they think they can buy seats on the Board of Supervisors.

Celebrating President's Day with the hike with his wife, Genser wants to talk about the wilderness that lies west of mega-growth Marana. He wants to talk about the simple beauty. He wants to talk about the isolation. He wants to talk about how that preservation does not erode business and economic expansion and prosperity.

Genser knows what he's talking about when he starts preaching environment. He's a longtime member and past officer in the Sierra Club. He's fought to preserve mountains, ridges, washes and streams.

"I love this place. There is nothing I won't do to make it better," Genser says.

But Genser, a Republican who has been in Tucson since 1987, knows full well the business end. A product of a New Jersey car dealer family, Genser grabbed a degree from Colorado State University and has thrived in -- no joke -- real estate. He owned more than 1,000 apartment units at one time but has enjoyed his retirement and sale of most of his holdings.

"I'm really going to do it. I've very excited even though I don't know anything about politics," Genser says with slight deprecation. "I wish it were a popular race."

Genser says he was encouraged by victories by Bob Walkup, the first Republican to be elected mayor in Tucson since 1983, and Republican Supervisor Ray Carroll's victory in eastside and Green Valley District 4.

"When I watched Walkup, forget about how he ran, and when I saw Ray, who is a standup guy, it showed how people can come from business, from outside of politics, and win," Genser says. "Regular guys."

But a popular race it is not. Genser will face state Sen. Ann Day and state Rep. Dan Schottel in the GOP primary for District 1, an anvil-shaped district that covers a big portion of central Tucson as far south as Broadway before expanding into the foothills and Oro Valley. Mike Boyd, a Republican, is giving up the seat after two terms.

Day has big bucks, money given by Phoenix business, lobbyists and political action committees. Some she piled up despite the absence of opposition only to convert that money to a run for the Board of Supervisors.

Helping Day will be Wanda Shattuck, the wickedly smart doyenne of the foothills neighborhood movement who has sat out a few years since her last project, another senator-to-supervisor, Greg Lunn, left the District 1 office in 1992. But Day is no Lunn. While he was criticized for coasting, he was bright, quick and talented when pressed. Day also will not likely be able to fare any better than Lunn in the transition from remote lawmaker to local lawmaker/administrator.

Schottel faces the same daunting task and is being piloted by Rod Cramer, a consultant who failed to beat Lunn in 1988 but who had a hand in the upset and surprise victory by Paul Marsh in District 4 in 1992. A decent sort, Marsh, with Cramer as his aide, was overwhelmed by both his lack of ability and his allegiance to then-Board majority leader Ed Moore and was booted after only one term.

"I don't think people should use money raised for other offices, particularly when unopposed, for another office," Genser says. "If these two guys need jobs, we'll go out and get them jobs."

Awaiting the winner in District 1 will be Byron Howard, a Democrat who was in charge of the county's wastewater management division more than 20 years ago. A former local executive with US Home, Howard has great grasp of county issues and got a major fundraising boost at a recent party at the Viscount Suite Hotel.

The seat is being vacated after two terms by Republican Mike Boyd. Republicans hold a slight registration advantage in the moderate district that has been represented only by Republicans since Katie Dusenberry ousted "control-growth" guru Ron Asta in 1976.

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