While the Town of Oro Valley will retain all current council members until at least June of next year, the Town of Marana will have a busy election season come March, when four incumbents and two challengers will compete to earn a seat on council.
Running for an additional term, Patti Comerford, Herb Kai, Jon Post and Carol McGorray will have to fend off newcomers David Morales and Kent Crotts if they are to accomplish reelection.
Though council members face a broad spectrum of community issues in their four year terms, the timing of one of those issues – the town’s wastewater debacle with Pima County – has taken center stage, and was a common topic of discussion and disagreement as some of the candidates spoke about their run for the town government.
For Morales and Crotts, Marana’s long-running lawsuit over control of the Marana Wastewater Reclamation Facility was one of the driving factors in running for a spot on the dais.
Morales, a Vietnam veteran, retired copper miner, and married father of four, said the decision by council to pursue a town-owned facility is a big mistake.
“Since 2005, I’ve seen council at its best and worst, and the very worst is the Luckett sewer treatment plant,” he said. “I’m not against the council doing things that benefit the whole town, but to spend five million dollars for five years of lawsuits for a plant that only serves five percent of Marana residents is not one of those things.”
Morales said because the plant serves a relatively few 1,800 customers, the vote in March will not support a Town-owned facility.
“On March 12, they are going to get a resounding ‘No’ from the people in Marana,” said Morales.
Crotts, owner of five NAPA stores and married father of five, agrees the lawsuit has gone too far, and said he would like to see the citizens better represented on all fronts.
“We need to make sure we go the right route on wastewater, and not on lawsuits where we lose and have wasted $5.5 million on a lawsuit we lose,” he said. “I’m running because I haven’t felt I have been represented. I believe it would be refreshing to have a new face on council, and my door is always open to the public.”
Post, who was appointed in February 2008, has a different take on the wastewater issue, and hopes to be reelected to see the matter through.
“Anybody that believes it’s about wastewater doesn’t know the true purpose,” he said. “It’s about water. Owning a wastewater plant is secondary to the true need, and that’s about long-term water resources, and the facility is an absolute necessity to acquire those resources. I feel like we are making headway in our relations with the county, and particularly Mr. (Chuck) Huckelberry.”
Still, Post said a new face on the council wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing – though, of course, he would prefer it wasn’t his seat being filled. After all, there are still things he would like to accomplish in a future term.
“I feel like I’m good at this,” said Post. “I enjoy what I’m doing, and I believe in service.”
Councilwoman McGorray, running for her fourth term, feels the same way about contributing to her community, having retired from the Marana School District in 2003, and currently acting as a board member for the Marana Food Bank and Marana Health Center.
She thinks her consistent involvement will play a part in her reelection.
“Experience on council plays a large part, but I think it’s how well known you are in the community,” she said. “I’m always keeping the entire town in mind when I make decisions.”
If reelected, McGorray would like to see through some important community developments that are currently in the works, as well as to continue talks with the county in achieving a town-owned wastewater facility.
“I think it’s very necessary for the Town to have its own sewer, not only for reasons now, but in the future,” she said. “I think with our future land annexations, and our development to the northwest, that the plant will serve far more than five percent of the people here.”
Council member Herb Kai and Vice Mayor Patti Comerford were not reachable for comment before press time.
The Marana primary election takes place on March 12. The deadline to file for candidacy has already passed.