Aftermath of a vote - The Explorer: Editorials

Aftermath of a vote

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Posted: Monday, May 31, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:19 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Mark Twain once said that the only people who have the right to use the collective "we" are kings, presidents, editors and people with tapeworms.

There's some sensitivity to the use of "we" in this column, so consider this the opinion of one: the passage of Proposition 100 was something of a surprise, and its margin of victory a flat-out shocker.

Ahead of last week's vote, the visible support for the sales tax increase was, candidly, thin, and the undercurrent of voter discontent seemed strong. Alas, a big majority of Arizona voters said "yes" to a higher sales tax for the next three years (and don't you just wonder what might happen in 2013?)

For the voters of Arizona to pass a sales tax increase in this economic climate says … something. Voters care about education and public safety. They may have felt pushed into a corner by a Legislature unwilling to make yet another hard choice. They may have believed the size of reductions forced upon the public schools was already enough.

Don't forget that Prop 100 reduces the degree of cuts, but does not eliminate the need for them. The Northwest's two main school districts are still making real reductions from current-year spending. People in the public sector are losing jobs.

At some point, Arizona needs to have a heart-to-heart, reasoned conversation about taxes, and how it funds public education. Maybe Gov. Jan Brewer could lead the discussion. No political figure in the state benefited more by last week's result. She pushed for it, she got it by a wide count, and she has gained politically from it.

This spring's roller coaster of reduction-in-force notices, people crying and the like only benefits the tissue vendors. There's got to be a better mechanism to finance the essential education of our children.

•••

Congratulations to Oro Valley's newly elected mayor, Satish Hiremath, as well as elected council members Lou Waters and Joe Hornat. Thanks and congratulations as well to mayoral challenger Mike Zinkin and council hopeful Matthew Rabb. All of them have subjected themselves to the pains of public office pursuit, and they know how grueling and personal it can be.

Hiremath has earned a 30-vote victory among 16,116 total voters — 61.4 percent of Oro Valley's registered voters, which is a respectable turnout. There's no mandate in the tea leaves. Results reveal that Zinkin was strongest among early and mail-in voters, with day-of polling in favor of Hiremath. Read into that what you will.

The community's new elected leadership has important decisions to make almost immediately. For one, it has to appoint someone to a council vacancy, and the list of 19 applicants — 19! — includes the incumbent mayor, Paul Loomis, incumbent councilman K.C. Carter, past council member Helen Dankwerth, current and appointed councilwoman Pat Spoerl … a fascinating field from which to choose. Too many, maybe. But it's a significant choice.

There is also the business of town management. Jerene Watson has been the interim town manager, and the town has agreed to look afield. What effect shall this election have upon that selection? Time will tell.

•••

A few weeks back, this writer had the pleasure of seeing parent Lee Souter and young people stand up for the game they love before the Oro Valley Town Council.

A recent council ordinance apparently makes it illegal for kids to play Airsoft, a replica-weapons game that shoots a pellet some short distance. "It's more dangerous to drive to the Airsoft game than to play the game itself," said one young man. Souter observed that he'd found an errant golf ball in his yard, and that such missiles are far more dangerous than Airsoft pellets. Let's see someone try to outlaw golf in OV.

"Can we find some common ground here?" the council was asked.

It should listen, and figure out a way to let kids play a game that doesn't hurt people.

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