On August 11, 2012 We the People, a non-partisan group, met to hear from candidates for the Oracle Fire District, Oracle School Board, Pinal County Recorder, Pinal County Supervisor, Dist.1, and the US Senate. Each candidate introduced themselves and shared why they were uniquely qualified to run for their respective positions.
There are eight fire district candidates, of which Bud Bristow, Robin O’Connor, Charlotte Poole, and
Bob Roskzo were present. The other candidates running are Ellie Brown, John Dorn, Manuel Navaro, and William Pedrego.
They were asked primarily about the budget the feasibility of an increase to it, should they anticipate increasing it. Although candidates agreed that the fire department has been doing a good job, Bob Roskzo stated that a larger staff may be needed to maintain the District.
Robin O’Connor expressed the same concern with a focus on the ability to answer medical emergency calls. Charlotte Poole and Robin O’Connor mentioned that employees (volunteer and staff) are often sent out to help other fire districts.
Bud Bristow reviewed the tax rate increase for the fire district from 2003, going from 1.3 to 2.6. He argued it is difficult to judge whether the fire district should increase its budget because the needs of the citizens have to be assessed, present programs must be examined, and from there the candidate needs to find a way to work within the budget to provide services.
He stressed that board members represent the community; their decision would have to be made as a policy board and in the best interest of the citizens. There are presently eight paid staff members and the annual budget varies from $600,000 to $800,000.
In attendance for Oracle school board candidates were Alicia Bristow (Oracle), Jeri Taylor (Saddle Brooke) and Jeff McClure (Eagle Crest). Candidates were asked their opinion on parent involvement and for ideas to get more involvement.
Bristow referenced the after school tutoring program, PTO involvement, and the Saddle Brooke residents who annually help in the classroom. All three candidates present agreed that the school district facilities need repair and perhaps new construction based on their visits to the school and tours of the buildings and grounds.
The two County Supervisor candidates who were in attendance were asked to identify existing problems and ways to solve them. Jim Montano cited the poor economy and the lack of jobs.
He shared that he has been meeting with citizens in District 1 communities to learn more about their needs and will continue this when elected through his website.
Montano is a small business owner, Army veteran and after 15 years of working for a subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft company believes he understands the budgeting processes.
Alicia Bristow cited the many issues facing the county due to the poor economy and growth and said that she believes one of the key components to resolving issues is for citizens to have
better access to the supervisor.
Bristow has a BA in Business Management and an MA in Public Administration; she has served as a state agency director and has over 25 years of government and nonprofit experience.
A final question for the County Supervisor candidates was their thoughts on the preservation of the San Pedro River Valley.
Montano expressed concern for the value of the bird refuges and uniqueness of the area and the need to keep federal agencies out since approximately 800 miles of water shed are already controlled by Government agencies.
Bristow said the proposed SunZia transmission lines that will run from New Mexico to California could be one of the largest threats to the area. The final decision will be made by the Corporation Commission.
Virginia Ross, running for Pinal County Recorder described her background and work experience with IBM. If elected she plans to overhaul the procedures related to verifying elections, wills, deeds and trusts.
Representing Will Cardon, candidate for U.S. Senate, Ben Mehr, a university student/campaign volunteer provided an overview of Cardon’s views on immigration and abortion. He also offered to clarify attack ads made on Cardon.
The participants and citizens expressed appreciation for the opportunity to have an open forum on things affecting the community and anticipate the next We the People meeting on Sept. 8at the Oracle Courthouse at 9:00 a.m.