Rochman: Consensus builder looks to the future - The Explorer: Import

Rochman: Consensus builder looks to the future

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Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:49 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Incumbent Oro Valley Town Council member and self-styled consensus builder Bart Rochman is running for a second term, this time for a two-year seat, because there are a few things he'd like to finish.

The 71-year-old Sun City retiree wants to complete the town library and road network. He'd like to see more space and parks - especially the Naranja Townsite - and protect historic Steam Pump and Kelly ranches and the prehistoric Hohokam village in Honeybee Canyon.

When he first came to town five and a half years ago, the former county supervisor from Peoria, Ill., saw the divisiveness on the council, and figured "this is a heck of a way to run a railroad," he said. "You can disagree but you don't have to be disagreeable."

Rochman decided to run in 2000 because he wanted to make a difference in the future of the town.

"Four years ago, I was troubled by growth dominating the debate," he said. "There's a segment here that doesn't want any change. Then you have the people who have moved here who don't want any other people. Then there are people who want to work, play and learn where they live. There is constant strife between these populations. And the only way to deal with it is to get some compromise.

"The question I asked four years ago during the campaign forums was does the town want to be bedroom community or a full-service community?" he said. "That question is still being asked today, even though we're past being a bedroom community."

If Oro Valley is to be a full-service community, the candidate said, it needs shopping, sit-down restaurants, schools, parks, trails, bike paths and other "amenities that make a town a real functioning place."

On the other hand, some residents tell him, "I'm willing to go to Tucson because I want serene surroundings and I'm willing to pay a property tax," he said. "That's not a word people want to hear, even though most of us came from places that had property taxes."

But the candidate is resigned about the town's ability to prevent unwanted development. "There are property rights in this country," he said. "We can't prevent development. That's what happened at La Canada and Lambert (the Beztak Companies' development). Sometimes you hold your nose and vote yes on something you don't like at all."

The candidate said he would have preferred a larger commercial development with its attendant sales tax revenue, instead of the project finally approved, a mix of businesses and apartment buildings.

"On the quality of the project, the council has no say over what goes in, whether it's a Nordstrom's or a McDonald's," he said.

Rochman believes he can still help Oro Valley develop as a Community of Excellence, by cooperating with the town arts group, the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council and others to bring in entertainment, cultural and sporting events, and by working with schools.

"I do have an interest in the schools succeeding," said the candidate, a former Peoria School Board President and President of a regional association of school boards. "It's either build prisons or have better schools."

Over the past year, Amphitheater Public Schools has approached the development community requesting donations of $1,200 per home to offset the cost of growth. It recently asked the town council to delay a development plan approval to give it time to negotiate with the developer. On the advice of legal counsel, the council ignored the request.

"This has become such an issue now," he said. "I would encourage the schools to continue talking to the Legislature (to allow them to levy an impact fee to address growth) and would encourage the town to support schools in that endeavor."

Rochman, a registered Republican, is not a fan of partisan politics. "One party or one side of an issue does not have all the smarts," he said. "When I don't agree, I don't have to walk in lock step with the party. We need agreement from the majority while protecting minority interests."

The candidate, who devotes about 30 hours a week to town business, is a graduate of the town's Citizen Planning Institute course and the Oro Valley Citizen Police Academy and has worked with the Oro Valley Police Department volunteer patrol. Before his 2000 election to council, he served as first chairman of the town's new Budget and Bond Committee.

He gives the current council a grade of A for its work over the past two years. "I think we're doing a good job. We do things that have to be done within the resources we have," he said. "I don't see people wanting to move or unhappy with services."

On the failed General Plan, rejected by two-thirds of voters in November, he vowed to return an acceptable plan to residents. "We'll find out why that happened," he said. "I think there was a lack of understanding by people."

The town council recently committed $14,000 for a survey and formed a committee to look into reasons for the plan's failure.

The candidate was born and raised in Omaha, Neb., the son of an accountant and a credit manager. "My mother was the credit manager - she was one of the early working women," he said.

After attending the local high school, Rochman earned a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Nebraska, while managing the office of a local firm.

He went through the Air Force ROTC in the mid-1950s, and then joined the service for two years, where he "flew the low mahogany desk," as an accounting officer. "With my eyes, you can't fly," he said. He left the military with the rank of first lieutenant.

In 1955, he married Shirley, a fellow student from York, Neb. The following year the couple moved to Peoria, where Rochman started as an accountant in the tax department for tractor giant Caterpillar Inc., rising through the ranks to become a manager in a career lasting more than 40 years.

The couple has two adult sons, one born in 1958 and one in 1962.

Rochman was elected to office nine times, once in the 1970s to a four-year term on a Peoria school board and eight times to the Peoria County Board of Supervisors, where he served for almost 30 years, two of them as chairman.

In Peoria, he was a member of the state tax reform commission, the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, the Illinois manufacturers' association, an affordable housing organization, and served as tax committee chairman of the state chamber of commerce. He also served for more than a year on President Reagan's taskforce on worldwide unitary taxation.

In 1997, Rochman retired and he and his wife came out west looking for an adult community to settle in. They looked at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Palm Springs, but in 1998 chose Sun City because of all its "adult camp" activities.

"I came here to play tennis five days a week and golf with my wife the rest of the time," he said. "I never really got to golf," because of back problems and the time he devotes to town affairs.

When elected to his current council seat four years ago, the candidate was recovering from open-heart bypass surgery. "Something I thought would be a real negative turned into a real positive," he said.

Rochman has also served as a member of the Sun City Government Affairs and Governing Documents Committees and is a board member of the Civic Association of Sun City Vistoso.

Age: 71

Family: Married, 2 adult sons

Education: B.S. in Business Administration,

Univ. of Nebraska

Profession/Employer: Retired, former employer Caterpillar Inc, Peoria, Ill.

Lived in Arizona: 5 years

Lived in Oro Valley: 5 years

Came to Arizona from: Peoria, Ill.

Public offices held:

OV council member 2000-Present

Peoria County Board of Supervisors, 29.5 years

Peoria School Board, 4 years

Other biographical data:

Chairman OV Budget and Bond Committee,

Graduate OV Citizen's Planning Institute and

OV Police Citizen Academy

Why he's running for council:

Opportunity to contribute to Oro Valley becoming a Community of Excellence and to bring a productive atmosphere to the Town Council.

Campaign:

I believe in public service. We get out of our community what we put into it. Effective elected officials must work to build consensus. I will continue to aggressively seek input from experts and constituents on issues being considered. People working together have made Oro Valley a Community of Excellence. Let us continue this process. My three and a half years as a council member plus my many other years of government and community service make me an able and qualified candidate worthy of your consideration for re-election as an Oro Valley council member.

Contact:

brochman@orovalley.net

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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