Joe Higgins, the Republican challenging incumbent Ann Day for supervisor in Pima County District 1, carries note cards that he believes tell a story of unchecked growth, spending and inefficiency in Pima County government.
In comparison with Tucson, Pima County spends more money ($1.48 billion to $1.26 billion), has more employees (8,396 to 5,847), and does not provide fire protection and refuse service (Tucson does).
Property tax rates to support Pima County government are $3.79 per $100 in valuation; in Maricopa County, the rate is $1.10 per $100 in valuation.
Pima County government has “almost doubled in the last eight years,” Higgins said. While the period was a time of escalating real estate values and construction, “instead of limiting, government grew.”
He’s seen enough of tax increases. With rising gasoline and food prices, “property taxes are really going to start making a major difference in people’s lives,” Higgins believes.
“In my conversations with voters, they’ve said ‘let’s look for inefficiencies, let’s look for ways to reduce cost’,” Higgins said.
Higgins is an entrepreneur and businessman. He owns three Sports Buzz Haircuts businesses and licenses six others. And he owns Talking Trash, which removes trash from 1,200 bus stops in the region, and has residential contracts in Green Valley and the Foothills. The business owns seven trucks, and employs 12.
“Four months ago, I was approached by folks from the business community” who were “looking for candidates. They had a feeling they’re not represented.” It was suggested he “run in this election cycle. I committed.”
He’s watched government from a businessman’s perspective.
“The closer I got to the flame, the more I’d say ‘why?’ This isn’t right. It’s not a friendly, ‘how do we get this done?’” approach. “It’s more of an adversarial kind of approach.”
“Removing the bureaucratic red tape” is vital to economic growth, Higgins believes.
Day is “a 20-year career politician. When’s the last time she met a payroll?
“I’m not looking to go to Washington, D.C., I’m not looking to go to Phoenix, I don’t want to do this forever,” Higgins said. “I want to get in there, turn the tide, turn the conversations, then get back to private life.”