Kenneth "KC" Carter is running for a two-year seat on the Oro Valley Town Council because he believes he has what it takes to represent his fellow citizens.
"I have a wealth of knowledge in financing, bonding, insurance, federal rules and regulations and safety and labor laws," said the 76-year-old, whose career as a civil engineer spans more than 50 years. "I can communicate with people. I ask them, do you want to keep going down the same road or do you want a change?"
Carter's top priority is to ratify a new General Plan, without unpopular mixed-use neighborhoods or wishy-washy language that gives too much away to developers. Two years in the making, the plan was defeated by two-thirds of voters in a special November election.
"Let's not spend big bucks," he said. "Let's get citizens together and rewrite the General Plan and get it passed. We need to sit down with key people and say we want to solve the problems. It's no different than a labor negotiation."
The candidate believes the plan failed because the town ignored its citizens. "I pledge I'm going to represent the people. I'm going to listen," he said. "If 500 people come in and ask for a no vote, I'll vote no. You have to represent the people, not industry or business."
Overall, Carter would like to slow down growth, particularly high-density projects.
"Are we just going to crowd all the houses together on smaller and smaller lots?" he asked. "I know it brings in impact fees. But the growth I'm interested in is low-density growth. I'm not against growth, but I don't think it's the answer to people's dreams for Oro Valley.
"If we can get in low-density housing, maybe we can get higher priced stores to come in. Take Catalina Shadows," he said. "It's a beautiful subdivision. Behind every house is an open area for birds and so forth."
The candidate adamantly opposes a property tax. "The people don't want it. They'll never get it to pass," he said. "That defeat will be worse than the General Plan ever thought of being."
Carter believes the town can be run instead with sales and construction taxes, or economic strategies like the Oracle Road Improvement District, which will exact payment for road improvements from directly impacted businesses, like Target, Home Depot and Bank of America.
Another issue of concern to the candidate is the town's public works yard, currently located in a residential neighborhood on Calle Concordia, and the focus of an ongoing legal battle with neighbors who want it removed.
"I will not see the public works yard moved to the Naranja Townsite (a future town park)," he said. "It's got heavy machinery and an oil station. You wouldn't want to live next door to it. We need to find a piece of land in a commercial area."
The candidate has never served on any town boards or commissions, but he was one of the first graduates of the town's Citizen Planning Institute and is currently a volunteer and advocate for the new town library.
Carter estimates that he's attended more than 100 town meetings in the past year, and many more if that figure were to include meetings of the General Plan Steering Committee. He gives the current council a grade of D for its performance during the past two years.
"The way they're handling the lots and the land and the General Plan," he said. "The town is going to hell in a pot." If elected, he'll devote "whatever it takes" to town business.
"I'm healthy and I'm as mean as a snake," he said. "I think I can help solve some of the problems the town has."
Carter was born and raised during the Great Depression on an Iowa farm near Fremont, then a town of 400. "I rode a horse to school. We had corn, oats, cattle, milk cows, hogs and chickens," he said. "I hand-milked 12 cows and separated the cream, which we kept cool in a cave."
In 1944, after a year of college, he joined the Navy, where he counseled sailors returning from World War II about their education benefits under the GI bill.
After a year, the Navy issued a hardship discharge to the seaman first class so he could return home to help on the farm when his father became ill.
Four years later, he completed a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering at Iowa State University in Ames. During that time, he wed a fellow student, Caroline. The couple had four children and 14 grandchildren; the marriage lasted almost 49 years until Caroline's death.
As a young man, Carter went to work as a civil engineer for the Iowa Highway Commission and then the California highway division outside of Sacramento. He went to Long Island, N.Y., as a consulting engineer for a private engineering firm and worked on a section of the Long Island Expressway. He later moved his family to Tampa, Fla., to direct the highway design division of another engineering firm.
Carter returned to Iowa to take a job with the Portland Cement Association, promoting cement products for a few years, until he took a job as a contractor doing highway construction.
He helped write the Iowa Highway Commission specifications in use today for a road machine known as a slip form paver, for which he was inducted as a fellow into the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Later in his career, he became a partner, vice president and general manager of Manatt Carter Paving Co., in Brooklyn, Iowa. "The mail used to go to Brooklyn, N.Y. and then it would come back to Iowa," he said. "Everybody was pretty indignant about that. But that was before ZIP codes."
He sold his share in the company and in 1981 became president and owner of Iowa Paving Contractors, which broke into the Des Moines area. He ran the company for about 10 years until retiring to a lake home on Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., about 50 miles southwest of Jefferson City.
In 1993, he and his wife moved to Sun City for her health. A few years later, he left Sun City to move to his present home in the Palisades South area of Oro Valley.
Carter has worked as a consultant and independent contractor on several special road projects for the town, the Catalina Shadows Neighborhood Association and Sun City. He was active in the incorporation efforts of Casas Adobes, serving for four years as the town engineer, he said.
He married Donna in 1997.
The candidate is past president of the Tucson branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a group he's been a member of since 1960. In the 1970s, he served as an officer for Iowa Associated General Contractors and the Iowa Concrete Paving Association. He served one year as president of the Palisades South Homeowners Association and now serves on its architectural committee.
Family: Married, 5 adult children
Education: B.S. in civil engineering,
Iowa State University
Profession/Employer: Self -employed
civil engineering consultant
Lived in Arizona: 10 years
Lived in Oro Valley: 10 years
Came to Arizona from: Lake of Ozark, Missouri
Public offices held: Town engineer during
the failed incorporation of Casas Adobes
Other biographical data:
World War II Navy veteran
Owned and operated Iowa Paving Contractors
Over 50 years experience in engineering
Past president Society of Civil Engineers, Tucson
Past president of his HOA
Why he's running for council:
After attending many sessions on the overall planning for the new General Plan and doing volunteer work for the new library, I was very unhappy with the route or direction our present town council was taking in selection of commercial business and over- riding the existing 1996 general plan and I made the decision to try for a seat on the new expanded council. It was very clear that the voices of the local residents were not listened to and they were not being allowed to help direct the decisions which affect our beautiful Oro Valley town.
Low density single-family housing and no apartments. I will not vote for a property tax. I would not vote for a general plan allowing mixed land use. I would work to get the zoning changed to not allow residential properties in commercial zone property. Maintain the police budget for the maintenance of the present police protection. Try and get the addition to the library completed. Work to get the maintenance yard on Calle Concordia moved to a commercial area. I would not vote to move it to a park area. Full support of the arts (GOVAC.)