Votes, kids and 'Cats - Tucson Local Media: Editorials

Votes, kids and 'Cats

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Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:25 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

Last week’s election in Marana may provide the latest evidence for municipal governments to rethink the way communities elect leadership.

Seven people are running for four seats on the Marana Town Council. Two, incumbents Herb Kai and Patti Comerford, were re-elected by plurality, garnering votes on more than half the ballots cast.

As of presstime Tuesday, decisions had yet to be made on who — if anyone — would not advance to the May ballot. Challengers Larry Steckler and Bret Summers are separated by one vote for sixth place. It may be that both would be placed on the May ballot, leaving five candidates for two remaining seats.

The primary election is intended, in this instance, to winnow a field so there are two candidates for each contested seat. It may not have worked this time. And it’s not that a seven-candidate field is too much for the electorate. Voters can make those choices much easier than, say, a field of nine or 10 candidates for four seats.

Turnout is a real concern in any Arizona municipal election. Marana has 17,807 registered voters. Of those, 3,214 — that’s 18 percent of those signed up — cast ballots in the primary election. Hardly a resounding show. The active minority, not to be discredited, makes decisions for the inactive majority.

Why not consider one election, one campaign, one set of decisions when there are fewer than two candidates for each open slot? Maranans would have benefited by a single, high-stakes campaign, with public forums, discussion and advertising focused on one date. The people would have been more likely to cast ballots, too.

The next Marana election could prove interesting, with Kelle Maslyn the primary leader by 16 votes over incumbent Carol McGorray, and incumbent Jon Post third. Is it wise to drop either Steckler or Summers from the roster, when one vote separates them? No.

Congratulations to Kai and Comerford for their re-elections. These are unprecedented times in Marana, and thoughtful leadership is essential.

Marana has made adjustments to an ordinance that imposes penalties on parents, guardians and adults who leave young children in vehicles.

The details are important, certainly. But it shouldn’t take an ordinance to remind adults that children should never be left in a vehicle unattended, period. It’s too hot here.

Even when loading the kids in a car, it should not be running when the driver is not seated. Thankfully, tragedies stemming from that action are very rare in America, but they do happen. No kids in unattended vehicles, please, and never in unattended vehicles that are running.

For the 25th season in a row — no one else comes close — the Arizona Wildcats are in the field for America’s best sporting event, the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament.

The debate is subsiding, some, about whether Russ Pennell’s ‘Cats deserved inclusion with a 19-13 record and too many road losses. Strength of schedule and good wins against strong teams sealed the deal. A win over Utah — Arizona is a slight favorite, even as a 12 seed against the 5th-seeded Utes — would end the debate.

No matter what happens Thursday, and beyond, Pennell, his staff and these ‘Cats have done themselves proud through the tumult of the campaign. These may be Pennell’s last games as Arizona coach. There is widespread desire for a “name” coach to come in, someone with a reputation who can bring in top talent (as if Tucson, weather, the UofA, the Pac 10 aren’t enough). But everyone in the program has embraced Pennell’s focus on the moment. He’s done a terrific job, and has proven himself a worthy Division 1 head coach, here, or elsewhere.

Two words — Go ‘Cats. Three more — Enjoy the Madness.

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