The Horror Behind The Mask

It's Time Cementhead Vicki Cox-Golder Ended Her Masquerade.
By Jim Nintzel

MOST OF US, at some time in our lives, have enjoyed the thrill of putting on a costume to celebrate Halloween.

But few of us have carried on the masquerade as long as Vicki Cox-Golder.

Cox-Golder, who is facing incumbent Ed Moore and Democrat Sharon Bronson for the District 3 Board of Supervisors seat in next week's general election, has treated Pima County to a command performance over the last year.

When Cox-Golder first began preparing her campaign, she hired the local queen of Republican consultants, Vera Marie "Bunny" Badertscher, a spin master who helped Gov. J. Fife Symington III portray himself as a successful businessman even as his real estate empire was crumbling around him during his first run for office.

After spending thousands of dollars on polling, Badertscher and Cox-Golder have crafted a careful image. When I first sat down with Cox-Golder last summer, she told me all this talk of her being part of the Growth Lobby was untrue.

"I'm being very careful who I'm taking money from, especially from the so-called development interests," she said. "In fact, SAHBA is very concerned about my candidacy because they know how I have lobbied for years on impact fees up at the Legislature.... To say I'm going to be the front man for the development community, I'll absolutely deny that. Most of them are afraid of me because I happen to be more pro-environment, I think, then I am pro-development."

Methinks Cox-Golder doth protest too much--even a casual glance at her whopping $80,000 warchest shows she's gotten tens of thousands of dollars from homebuilders and construction firms in Pima County, including employees of A.F. Sterling, Coventry Homes, U.S. Homes, Coscan Homes, Dominion Homes, UDC Homes, Becklin Homes, Pepper-Viner Homes, Canoa Builders, Borderland Construction, the Sundt Corporation, Caylor Construction and many more.

The only concern SAHBA has about Cox-Golder is that she wins the race. SAHBA's Alan Lurie has given Cox-Golder at least $150, and the homebuilding organization, along with the Arizona Association of Realtors and the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, put financial muscle behind an independent campaign committee which is spending thousands of dollars to get her elected.

The Growth Lobby is firmly in Cox-Golder's corner.

Still, she continues to hide behind her disguise, because polling has told her District 3 voters are sick to death of the unending bulldozing of their once-rural neighborhoods. She told the morning daily just last week: "It's not that I think growth is good. It's just that growth is going to happen."

But the mask does slip sometimes, as it did when Cox-Golder addressed a group of mortgage brokers this summer:

"Growth is important to every business and every industry in Pima County," Cox-Golder told the crowd. "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."

Does that sound like someone who doesn't believe growth is good--even vital? Nevermind that Pima County's raging, rampaging, out-of-control growth has not only failed to keep up with our infrastructure needs, it's left us with a road problem that will cost about a billion bucks to fix.

How does Cox-Golder--the woman who says "tax and spend has never solved any problem facing us"--propose solving these road problems? With tax increases--she supports higher gas taxes and sales taxes, both regressive taxes that sock the middle class.

Kind of funny, given Cox-Golder's own pledge on the stump: "I don't believe growth needs to be subsidized on the backs of existing residents."

But ask Cox-Golder how to find a way to pay for all those roads without squeezing it out of the folks who live here now, and all she can say is: "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."

Sure they are--that's why they opposed even the token $1,550 impact fee imposed by the Board of Supervisors last year.

Sometimes, Cox-Golder's comments are so breathtakingly ludicrous it makes me question if she's giving an ounce of thought to what she's saying.

Radio talk show host John C. Scott asked her last month if her husband's family members were pioneers.

"They first came to Arizona in 1957 and bought Rancho Vistoso," Cox-Golder said, "so, yes, they're a pioneering family."

I wonder: Did they come to Tucson in a covered Chevy wagon?

At other times, Cox-Golder is simply--but utterly--disingenuous.

During that same interview on Scott's show, Cox-Golder said, "I am not a real estate developer. I am a real estate broker.... To say that I am connected somehow to new-home development is not true."

Five minutes later, Cox-Golder was boasting to Scott how she and her husband had sold the 1,400 acres that became the Saddlebrook development.

It's easy to see the results of unplanned growth in our community: rising taxes, packed classrooms, an exploding juvenile crime crisis, jammed streets, brown skies and acre after acre of bladed-and-graded desert.

Vicki Cox-Golder won't change any of the policies that have brought us to this sad place. With the election just days away, it's time to look beyond the mask. Don't be fooled by her disguise: Vicki Cox-Golder is just a slick '90s version of the cementheads who have called the shots around here long enough. TW

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