FLORENCE – From his Florence office, Supervisor Pete Rios reflects upon his days in the legislature and says his next term on the Pinal County board will be somewhat familiar to his legislative past.
“In all my years in the state legislature, the Democrats had the majority one time,” Rios recalls. “That meant we, as Democrats, had to work with the Republicans to get our bills passed. I can say it wasn’t cut-throat like it is now. Everyone had their ideas and sometimes they passed, other times not. Still to this day I remain good friends with many of those on the other side of the aisle.”
In his second term, Rios finds himself in the minority party on the Board of Supervisors. Being the lone Democrat on a board with four Republicans strikes a familiar tone to the long-time public servant.
“Every partisan elected official wants to be in the majority because it’s much easier to get your bills passed,” Rios said. “This is the hand I am dealt and I will do my best to serve my constituents and my county. I am looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
The District 1 Supervisor said that the financial health of the county is one of his priorities in the upcoming four-year term.
“We have previously been able to offer tax relief to help our residents,” Rios said. “It looks like the economy is taking a turn toward more prosperity and that puts the county in a good fiscal position. I would like to see us pass a budget that will help us offer some services we have had to cut in the past while maintaining a structurally balanced budget.”
Even with the improving economy, Rios said the eastern portion of Pinal County is in desperate need for economic development and job growth.
“We have two projects that could increase our number of jobs exponentially,” Supervisor Rios commented. “The Resolution Copper Project is held up in congress and the Union Pacific Red Rock Classification Yard is held up at the state. We can write all the resolutions and letters of support for these projects, but in the end it is out of our hands and that is frustrating. We are always looking at other avenues for well-paying jobs.”
Even after the county redistricting in 2010, the District he represents remains the largest, square-mileage wise in Pinal County. Sometimes the size of the district presents a unique set of challenges.
“One thing that is a constant throughout this district is the need to pave roads,” Rios said. “We really work to stretch our Highway User Revenue Funds (fuel taxes to be used only for road construction and repair) to cover more dirt roads a year. Other than that, the needs of the eastern portion of the county differ from the central part of the county.”
With the expansion from three to five supervisorial districts, Rios said there will be a lot of different ideas put forward in the board meetings. But in the end, the best interests of the county have to be at the forefront of each supervisor’s mind.
“Are there going to be differences of opinions – you bet,” Rios said. “You cannot help but have that with a county as big and diverse as Pinal. I am committed to working together to propel this county forward toward a more prosperous future.”