The Oro Valley Town Council has appointed a local developer to fill a vacant seat on the body.
Last Wednesday, the town council named Steve Solomon to serve the remaining two years of the term left open when Councilwoman Salette Latas resigned in April. Solomon owns Cañada Vistas Homes and has been a prominent residential developer in Oro Valley since 1994.
"It's really exciting," Solomon said in an interview.
Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath said the choice of Solomon was difficult because of the quality of applicants. Nineteen people, including former town council members, sought the position.
"It was an exceptionally tough choice," Hiremath said.
Council members Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters joined the mayor in voting for Solomon. Councilman Bill Garner voted against the appointment, and Councilman Barry Gillaspie abstained from voting.
"I didn't agree with the choice," Gillaspie said afterward.
"For those people not selected, you are, have been and will continue to be the reason Oro Valley has been so successful," Hiremath said.
The selection of Solomon could indicate a change in direction for the council, which has in the past gained a reputation among some as anti-business. Business and homebuilders groups railed against a series of development impact fee increases over the past three years. The business community also bridled over recent efforts to step up enforcement of the town's sign code.
Solomon's appointment comes as welcome news to groups like the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, which in the past has been at odds with the town.
"I think Steve is a good selection," said David Godlewski, SAHBA's spokesman.
Godlewski said Solomon's years as a builder add an expertise that in the past had been lacking.
The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce also was receptive to Solomon's selection.
"There's a lot to be said for Steve and the kind of development he does," said Ramon Gaanderse, chamber president. "It's definitely going to be a new council going forward. The philosophy that's there now is definitely more business-friendly."
Gaanderse said the new council members, all four of whom the chamber endorsed, would not simply be a rubber stamp for the business community.
In 2006, Solomon donated 13 acres of a mixed residential and commercial site near Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and Moore Road for an archeological preserve. The site, part of a development Solomon's company owns, sits on the site of a first millennium B.C. Hohokam Indian settlement.
Solomon has built numerous communities in the past nearly 20 years, all in Oro Valley.
Solomon said he could bring an expertise that would benefit the town and residents, especially when dealing with proposed development projects.
"I can bring a real life experience of working in the town and with the Town of Oro Valley," Solomon said.
The Oro Valley home builder is an active member of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.