WITH THE PRIMARY election coming up on Tuesday, September 19, round one in the 1995 city elections is nearly at an end. We thought we'd quickly recap our lengthy election coverage for those of you who have been too busy to pay attention so far--sort of like the old days, when you'd cram before finals. Read everything that follows and you'll have a chance to pass, even though you probably won't retain much. If you want to know more, come on down to our office and buy a back issue, or visit our wondrous Web site at http://desert.net/
Since it's a primary election, you may not even need to go the polls. Here's an easy test that will tell you if you're eligible to cast a vote on Tuesday.
1. I am a Democrat living within city limits.
2. I am a Republican living in southeastern Ward 4.
If you answered yes to either of those questions, you're on your way to the voting booth. If you answered no, you're off the hook and can go back to watching the Simpson trial.
Polls will be open from from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. And, best of all, city elections have absolutely no impact on the sale or consumption of adult beverages, so feel free to get snockered before you vote!
The Mayor's Race
YES, IT'S FINALLY happened--that ongoing feud between Mayor George Miller and Ward 1 Councilman Bruce Wheeler has come to a head.
Weary of living in the shadow of Miller, Wheeler has challenged him for the city's top seat. Wheeler charges Miller hasn't shown leadership while in office, while Miller says Wheeler's idea of leadership is "hot-dogging" for the media.
Watching them spar, it's clear this race is between two men who intensely dislike one another. The tension between the two has grown so thick Wheeler has finally decided to try to take Miller out.
But for all his talk of leadership, Wheeler rarely can find three more votes to support his crusades. Take the CAP fiasco, for example--Wheeler said the city should stop serving CAP water a year and half ago, but he couldn't get a majority of the City Council to return Tucsonans to groundwater for nearly a year, when it became clear that Tucson Water was not going to be able to stem the complaints flowing into the city.
Both men know their way around City Hall. Miller was first elected to the Ward 3 seat in 1977 and has served the last four years as mayor. Wheeler has served two years in his westside Ward 1 seat.
Now, although both candidates oppose the CAP initiative on the November ballot, they want to find a way to remove the salt and other minerals from CAP water before using it to recharge the underground aquifer.
They agree on other issues, too, though you'd scarcely realize it to talk to them. They both thought giving the UA $1 million so the university could afford to rent its Rita Road Research Park to Microsoft was a pretty nifty idea. Both support using tax dollars to help Davis-Monthan Air Force Base by re-aligning Valencia Road. And both like the idea of seeing the city grow through annexation.
But don't make the mistake of thinking they see eye-to-eye on everything. Wheeler adamantly opposes the annexation of legendary land speculator Don Diamond's Rocking K development southeast of the city, complaining the city won't get a payoff for years to come and infrastructure costs will be borne by current Tucsonans. Miller says he doesn't have enough information to make a decision one way or the other--a convenient stance to have just a few weeks before one of the toughest races of his life.
As we've pointed out in these pages before, Miller has far outstripped Wheeler in the fundraising race, pulling in $86,345.56. He's gotten $200 donations from many local developers and car dealers, including Joe Cesare, David Mehl, Stan Abrams, Jim Click, Buck O'Rielly and Tom Quebedeaux. Miller has already spent $56,791.54 on a mammoth campaign with signs, mailers and even TV time.
Wheeler, meanwhile, has only raised $23,874. He's put up signs, walked door-to-door and sent out campaign fliers in the mail. He's also struggled to draw media attention to the race. We'll see how well that strategy worked on Wednesday morning.
The winner of the race will face Republican Sharon Collins and Libertarian Ed Kahn in the November 7 general election.
WITH COUNCILMAN BRUCE Wheeler giving up his seat to challenge Mayor George Miller, five Democrats are taking a shot at the westside Ward 1 seat.
The 23,000 or so Democrats in Ward 1 will choose between Irma Yepez-Perez, who worked as an aide to Wheeler for seven years; former Ward 1 councilmen Rudy Bejarano and Ruben Romero; former state Sen. Luis Gonzales; and Jose Ibarra, a Democratic Party activist who's running for office for the first time.
With such a crowded field, it's difficult to make any prediction about what will happen on election day. As Mayor George Miller puts it, "Whoever has the most relatives is going to win."
It's most likely going to be a tight race. Primary elections are generally marked by low turnout, so even if one-fourth of the registered voters go to the polls, the five candidates will still be splitting somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 votes. Some think the winner will squeeze by with a double-digit margin.
Political insiders are giving a five-point gender advantage to the 33-year-old Yepez-Perez, but it's an advantage that campaign disorganization may be squandering. Yepez-Perez has only raised $6,531 and she has yet to apply for matching funds through the city's campaign finance system, which would almost double her warchest.
With seven years of recent experience in the Ward 1 office, Yepez-Perez knows the issues facing the community. She opposes the CAP initiatives, but supports recharging the city's CAP allotment after the water has been treated to remove salts. She also would like to see the city sell some of the water to nearby mines and farms.
She supports annexation of the developed land surrounding the city, but opposes stretching the city limits to bring in Don Diamond's proposed Rocking K development, saying the cost of infrastructure would far outweigh any financial benefit to the city.
Yepez-Perez has been endorsed by the Arizona Women's Political Caucus, the Sierra Club, the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Tucson and the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association.
Jose Ibarra also picked up endorsements from the Sierra Club and the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Tucson. His insistence on impact fees for large new developments assured that the homebuilders would not give him an endorsement.
Ibarra knows the community well. The 25-year-old activist got his start in politics as a teenager, working as an aide for Pima County Supervisor Raul Grijalva. He's also worked on a number of campaigns, including Mayor George Miller's 1991 run, Terry Goddard's failed gubernatorial bid and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday initiative. He served as southern Arizona coordinator for President Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential bid.
Ibarra is a strong advocate for the inner city. He only supports annexations that will bring a quick return to the city and strongly opposes the annexation of Rocking K. Although he admits he doesn't have all the answers, he can talk at length about the future of the community, with a solid understanding of the pros and cons of various positions.
Ibarra's campaign savvy is aptly demonstrated by his successful fund-raising, mostly in small contributions. He leads the pack with $19,132, which he's been spending on roadside signs, campaign literature and radio advertising.
But he's not the only experienced campaigner in the race. Former state Sen. Luis Gonzales, who served in the Arizona Legislature from 1978 to 1986, has been involved in many southern Arizona races, including Ward 1 races in the 1980s. Gonzales has been carefully breaking the ward down into precincts and trying to find his strengths and weaknesses.
Gonzales may have trouble overcoming an image problem he developed in 1992, when he challenged county Supervisor Raul Grijalva. He was tossed off the ballot after a judge ruled that most of the signatures on his nominating petitions had been forged. Gonzales, who blames the problem on overzealous campaign volunteers, has yet to pay a $17,000 judgment against him in the case, which has now risen to $21,000 with interest. He also failed to include the debt on his campaign filing papers, saying he didn't know about it. Attorney Bill Risner, who has been trying to collect the debt, says he's been in touch with Gonzales' attorney, who should have informed his client of his legal troubles.
Gonzales has a unique solution to the CAP mess the city has on its hands--he wants to boil the impurities out of CAP water through a vacuum-compression plant. It's a solution that no one else has yet proposed for the 148,000 acre feet of water the city gets each year, but he claims to have read in a magazine that such plants are now possible.
Gonzales thinks annexations should be decided on a case-by-case basis. He says he's wary of bringing the Rocking K dvelopment into the city, but he has found support from builders; his $6,097 campaign fund includes donations from developers like Cesare brothers Joe and Larry ($270 each), the Public Affairs Foundation of Estes Homebuilding Company ($200) and the Realtors of Arizona Political Action Committee ($200). He also picked up $250 from former Nogales Mayor Jose Canchola.
The two former councilmen have the least organization in the race. Neither has done much fundraising nor reached out to local political groups to win endorsements.
Rudy Bejarano, who held the office from 1979 until he was defeated by Wheeler in the 1987 Democratic primary, has climbed back into the ring, but he doesn't seem to grasp the issues now facing the community. He has a vague plan to blend and recharge CAP water and says he considers the annexation issue "moot," despite the fact that the city is growing at the fastest rate in decades. He says he would support any annexation before the council, no matter what the cost, including the Rocking K development.
Last week, Bejarano reported he has yet to raise even a dime for his campaign. He's also dodged interviews with The Weekly and the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Tucson. He's running for office the way some people play the lottery: Get ahold of the ticket and then pick up the paper a few days later to see who's won.
Ruben Romero, who held the Ward 1 seat for two terms before giving up in 1979 in a failed bid for mayor, hasn't done much campaigning either. He's raised a mere $825 and loaned himself $454.45.
Like Berajano, Romero wants to see the city grow as large as possible, with little concern over the cost to current residents. He says too many small communities will interfere with Tucson's control of the valley. He thinks the Rocking K annexation would be great for the city.
Growth is about the only issue he's taken a stand on. Romero doesn't have a CAP solution and is foggy on most of the other issues facing the community.
Still, both Bejarano and Romero have name recognition among the older residents of the ward, so they may find pockets of support on election day.
The winner will face Republican Ray Fontaine and Libertarian Scott Stewart in the November 7 general election.
COUNCILMAN ROGER SEDLMAYRS'S retirement has brought out four candidates, none of whom has held elected office.
Democrats will choose between Jean Wilkins and Shirley Scott. The 65-year-old Wilkins worked in the administative department of the police department for 25 years before moving to City Hall, where she worked in the budget department until 1989. She's worked as an aide to Sedlymayr for the last four years.
Shirley Scott is a 52-year-old businesswoman who co-owns Scott Industrial Supply with her husband Joe. She also teaches German at Pima Community College and has served on the city's budget committee and the board of Tucson Clean and Beautiful.
Both candidates say that they'd like to see more community policing and more services, parks, recreational facilities and a park in Ward 4. Both say Sedlmayr failed to provide enough outreach like town halls, which is a curious complaint coming from Wilkins, since she's been working in the office for four years and certainly had a chance to handle those kinds of constituent services.
Ultimately, this race comes down to the classic Tucson battle between builders and neighborhoods. The builders have thrown their support behind Wilkins, who says she'd like to see the city annex as much as possible. She supports annexing the area northwest of town where the county is struggling to find funds for infrastructure, because she believes the long-term payoff to Tucsonans in new taxes will cover the cost of millions of dollars of upfront infrastructure projects.
Wilkins, who has been endorsed by the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association, is also eager to annex Don Diamond's proposed Rocking K development.
"Now it's sitting there, it's been approved by the county, it's going to be developed whether we take it into the city or not," she says. "And the people who are living there are going to be creating an impact on the City of Tucson. We are still going to have to do improvements to Old Spanish Trail and Valencia Road. Why not take it into the city while it's still undeveloped? It improves our economy, especially if they build a golf course, a hotel and homes."
Her support for growth has helped her build a $21,440 warchest, which includes $1,000 loan to herself and $8,745 in city matching funds. She's picked up contributions from land dealers like Joe Cesare ($270), David Mehl ($250), Diamond's favorite lieutenant, Chris Monson ($250), the Public Affairs Foundation of Estes Homebuilding Company ($100) and the Realtors of Arizona Political Action Committee ($200).
Scott is more cautious about growth. She says we should annex only areas that show a quick return to the city. She's opposed to annexing Rocking K, arguing that the cost of extending infrastructure for future residents shouldn't be borne by people who now live in the city.
"There aren't any people there, so what's the point?" she asks.
Scott has been endorsed by the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Tucson. She trails Wilkins in the fundraising race, having collected $6,445 in contributions.
Both candidates have well-organized campaigns, which will be vital on election day. Historically, fewer than 5,000 people have turned out for the Demo primaries in Ward 4. In 1991, Sedlmayr won the primary by just over 150 votes, and in 1987 he defeated his opponent by only 40 votes. As in Ward 1, every vote will count.
The winner will face the winner of the Republican primary in the November 7 general election.
REPUBLICANS IN WARD 4 can toss a coin. Both candidates, Bill King and Todd Clodfelter, are good-hearted men who have no experience in city government. Neither has held elected office before, although both have been active in the community. Both admit they don't have the answers to many of the problems facing the community.
King, a 65-year-old accountant, has volunteered his time as a court-appointed advocate for abused and neglected children. He also served a two-year stint as treasurer for the Pima County Republican Party a few years ago.
The 38-year-old Clodfelter, who owns a printing business, has been active with the local Boy Scouts chapter and various youth baseball leagues.
Both candidates support the CAP initiative and oppose the annexation of Don Diamond's proposed Rocking K development. Both say in a budget shortfall they'd cut the city's arts budget.
Both also produce small-town solutions that would flop in a major metropolitan area. For example, Clodfelter wants to turn over citywide recycling programs to charity groups, while King's solution for solving the city's transportation woes is to ask people to live closer to where they work.
Neither campaign has been organized enough to raise much money. In the most recent report, King reports bringing in $1,979, while Clodfelter had raised only $975, including a $100 loan to himself.
The winner of the race will face the winner of the Democratic primary.
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