Filler Clueless In Oro Valley

The Voters In This Posh Bedroom Community Face A May 21 Run-off Election.
By Emil Franzi

ORO VALLEY'S VOLATILE boomtown politics will again bubble over in a May 21 run-off election to fill three of five Town Council seats in the posh, rapidly expanding bedroom community to the northwest of Tucson.

The run-off is necessary because no one got 50 per cent of the vote in the March 12 primary, although many voters showed up to kill a series of once-popular parks bond proposals--after County Assessor Rick Lyons hit them with new, higher property tax assessments.

Two of the three Oro Valley Town Council incumbents--Mayor Cheryl Skalsky and Vice-Mayor Paul Parisi--are seeking re-election. Councilman Marty Wells retired, and Bill Kautenberger and Rudy Roszak aren't subject to a vote this time around.

The other candidates are John Clarke, Al Jakubouskas, Paul Loomis and Matt Moutafis.

Skalsky fell a handful of votes short in the primary, the Loomis and Clark team ran second and third, Jakubouskas fourth, Parisi fifth, and Moutafis dead last.

The issues are muddy and personal. Loomis and Clark are supported by Roszak, who said if Skalsky and Parisi are re-elected, he'll resign. Parisi was Roszak's running mate in last year's recall, which replaced then-Mayor Richard Parker and Councilwoman Valerie Hoyt. What with all the growth-driven issues (water, zoning, transportation and, of course taxes) swirling about, OV Council members tend to have the life expectancy of a gnat.

Jakabouskas is interesting. Looking and acting much younger than his 76 years, the WWII Pacific theater Marine veteran actually walked every house in the Vistoso end of the town. He spent little but energy, and he came in first everywhere he went.

Roszak is one of this valley's stranger elected officials. He's sort of a combo of former Arizona wacko Gov. Evan Mecham and Pima County Supervisor (and mega-wacko) Ed Moore, with none of their charm. He refuses to attend Council study sessions and complains much of the governing process wastes his valuable time. Yet he spends lots of it writing babbling letters to just about everyone, including the press, alluding to conspiracies he never spells out. (He's also the guy who bought a house on a golf course and not only bitches about the golf balls that land in his yard, but wanted to pass an ordinance to control the "problem.")

Roszak claims he doesn't understand why the OV Council purchased the Cañada Hills and Rancho Vistoso water companies for a higher per-user price than a similar water company recently sold for in Green Valley. He also wanted the Council to wait and have a public vote on the acquisition, and insinuates something shady went down.

Supporters of the water buy-out, like Parisi and Skalsky, answer simply: "It's the CAP, stupid!" The water company owners weren't waiting for an election because they had another willing buyer in Tucson Water. Roszak, as well as Loomis and Clarke, claim Tucson wasn't particularly interested, and quote Tucson Mayor George Miller saying Tucson wouldn't buy those companies unless "Oro Valley's negotiations were over." But Skalsky and Parisi respond the water companies would have sold out to the highest bidder.

Skalsky further says Tucson Water flat-out lied about the whole issue and had been conducting secret negotiations with the two water companies. She says she got Oro Valley in the water business to keep from ending up with those wonderful guys, Tucson City Manager Mike Brown and Tucson Water Führer Kent McClain.

As expected, growth is an issue in high-growth Oro Valley. The latest boomlet is rattling saguaros next door to Rancho Vistoso, the northwestern equivalent of Green Valley. Existing residents living on recently raped desert are complaining about further desert rape going on next door to them. The town's Design Review Committee rejected, by a vote of 6 to 1, plans to stuff another 392 homes on the ridge next to existing residents.

The only problem is, the developer already had the zoning. Much of OV has already been densely planned or rezoned, either by prior town councils or by the Pima County Board of Supes in actions taken before annexation.

Making it worse is the combination Ponzi scheme/chain letter that Oro Valley Town finances are based on. The town has no property tax, but depends on sales tax and development fees. End the latter and they'll be laying off cops and not filling chuck holes. And that puts a long-time council member like Cheryl Skalsky in a bad position.

During her eight-year tenure, Skalsky was often a voice in the wilderness as the rest of the council rolled over for just about anything developers wanted. Now, as mayor, she's expected by unreasonable people like Roszak, Loomis and Clarke to stop things that are legally too far along. Loomis and Clarke are also making nebulous promises about development moratoriums--which would cost the town both cash flow and a for-sure court loss.

Life is a series of imperfect options, which the current Oro Valley Town Council, Roszak excepted, recognizes. OV's current Council has been one of the better local governments, working hard to solve real problems. They've taken a series of undramatic--but tangible--steps to re-direct a community that had been run by people almost as clueless as the bozos in Marana or the three dweebs who make up the Board of Supes majority.

Only that may not be good enough, because OV voters are a tad clueless. One protesting lady at a recent hearing is typical. She announced she'd moved from California just six weeks ago and was told the empty desert across the street from her house would always be that way.

Vox Populi, baby. TW

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