Council appoints new member, hears encouraging crime numbers

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By Chase Kamp Superior Sun

After the untimely resignation of Hank Gutierrez last month, the Superior Town Council appointed Irene Hansen as his replacement at its regular meeting on Dec. 6, 2012.

Hansen received a majority of votes from the council in a roll-call vote. The other candidates up for consideration were Stephen Estatico and Curtis Williams, Jr.

Gutierrez resigned from the council on Oct. 3 after he was found guilty of voting on an agenda item in which he had a financial interest in the outcome. His favorable vote in Dec. 2009 for a mutual benefits agreement between the town and Resolution Copper Mine, a company for which he was a contractor, was found to be a violation of state law prohibiting conflict of interest votes.

Hansen, who has previously worked as a dispatcher for Superior Fire and Police, will finish the rest of Gutierrez’s term while also submitting paperwork to run for the council in the next election.

At that same meeting, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Superior Chief of Police Lou Digirilamo presented encouraging crime figure reports after PCSO bolstered its deputy and posse presence in the town beginning in Oct.

According to Babeu, PCSO made 169 traffic stops and issued 30 citations in the first 10 days of activity in Superior.

The council asked PCSO to increase deputy presence in hopes of combating drug activity and easing the burden on the Superior police force. Digirilamo offered town police statistics from Oct. 18 to Dec. 5, citing 19 arrests and 34 citations in that time.

Several residents spoke out at the Oct. meeting about unanswered gunshots and fears about drugs and violence in their neighborhoods. Babeu said it was disconcerting “to have that many residents in town share that kind of apprehension and fear.”

Mayor Jayme Valenzuela said he was pleased with the improvement since then. “It’s been a big help,” he said.

District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios held up the pledge he made to the council back in Oct. to consider allocation of funds for increased PCSO activity in the town.

The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved $67,000 for PCSO operations in Superior at its meeting on Dec. 5. The funds will allow PCSO to increase deputy presence in the area for six months.

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