THE LATEST DEVELOPMENT
The Tucson City Council last week voted to approve an annexation of land near River and Craycroft roads.
The property owner, Broadway Realty and Trust, hopes to build Rio Verde Village, which will include a hotel (perhaps as high as seven stories), retail stores, a school, homes, an assisted-living center and a gas station, all on 40 acres.
Developer Joe Cesare and his partners had tried for years to work out an agreement with the county, but County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry had been driving a hard bargain as part of any rezoning. Huckelberry wanted to ensure that the developer provided enough money to pay for road improvements and turned over a stretch of land to extend the Rillito River Park, which now dead-ends just east of Craycroft Road.
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who voted in favor of the annexation, said the city would ensure that the river park be extended. He called the concerns about the annexation a "tempest in a teapot. ... It is not smart for our region to be fighting annexation and incorporations."
The area in question is part of Pima County's District 1, where four Republicans are vying in the Aug. 28 primary. All of them say that the county needs to be more business-friendly and ease up on regulations.
In the case of Rio Verde Village, Mike Hellon says that he has concerns about the annexation, because the neighborhood will see a substantial increase in traffic, and the county will be responsible for improving the road.
"I think the city is going to come out ahead on it," says Hellon, a former Arizona Republican Party chairman who recently picked up the endorsement of U.S. Jon Kyl. "I think the neighborhood is totally screwed. That's one of the areas where I want to see a lot better cooperation and coordination between the county and the city."
Stuart McDaniel, a mortgage broker and consultant, sees it as a "shame the county and the developer couldn't come to an agreement, and the city came in. ... There will be additional traffic, but I certainly welcome the new development and the jobs it will bring."
Tea Party activist Ally Miller tells The Skinny via email that she doesn't have enough "inside details to weigh in on that annexation in particular," but that in general, annexation is up to property owners, and as long as proper procedures are followed, she would not block annexations.
State lawmaker Vic Williams told The Skinny that he wasn't following the dispute.
"I would have to take a look at the issue," Williams says. "I'm not aware of the details, so I would have to study it before I make a comment."
Pima County's District 4 has a boundary close to the area. Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll says he's "concerned for those constituents" because of the increase in traffic. He said he tried to help facilitate a deal between Huckelberry and the developer, but the two parties couldn't come to an agreement.
"I thought the annexation was something we could have compromised on, and (the county could have) ultimately provided a better land-use plan than the city of Tucson did," Carroll says.
Carroll's primary opponent, Dairy Queen owner Sean Collins, says that he would have rallied the local residents who opposed the project so they could have been better organized to speak up against it.
"Ray Carroll could have gotten those people together and told them, 'Here's how you go about fighting this, if that's what you choose to do.'"
However, Collins says he's not sure he would have led any opposition to the project itself.
"I'm 100 percent pro-business," Collins says. "But I believe that all of the rules need to be followed. I'm not saying they have not been, but when you have a project ... people need to be notified of those things. ... People need to have a say. But I'm pro-business; I'm not anti-business."
FOLLOWING THE MONEY, CONGRESSIONAL EDITION
In the new Congressional District 2, Congressman Ron Barber outraised Democratic challenger Matt Heinz nearly 10-to-1, according to the most-recent campaign-finance reports.
Barber raised $332,828 in the 5 1/2 weeks between May 24 and July 2. (His reporting period is different from the rest of the candidates, because he was embroiled in the special election to complete Gabrielle Giffords' term.)
To win that race, Barber spent nearly $1.3 million and finished the reporting period with just less than $195,000 in the bank.
Barber spokeswoman Jessica Schultz said that the fundraising report shows that "people continue to be excited about Ron's plans to rebuild the middle class, protect Social Security and look out for veterans."
Heinz raised just $33,755 and spent $68,527 over the second quarter. When funds he already had were added in, that left him with $42,263 in the bank as of June 30.
Heinz says he has raised many of his campaign dollars since Barber won the June 12 special election, and the fundraising report shows "the growing strength of my campaign."
He adds that he believes he can run a low-budget effort that focuses on grassroots organization and telephone town halls rather than expensive TV commercials.
"We are finding a lot of really amazing ways to do a campaign," Heinz says. "There's a misperception that campaigns have to be these million-dollar things."
Republican candidate Martha McSally raised $246,401 over the reporting period, and had just less than $135,000 on hand as of June 30. She's facing token resistance from Mark Koskiniemi in the GOP primary, who tells The Skinny that he has not yet raised $5,000 for his campaign.
Koskiniemi says via email that he doesn't want to add to the "significant fatigue in the community" from the ongoing 2012 campaigns, and he hopes "to demonstrate that a successful campaign can be run without the obscene amounts of money generated traditionally."
BTW: If you want to see both GOP candidates in action, they'll be appearing together on Arizona Illustrated at 6:30 p.m., Monday, July 23, on KUAT Channel 6.
In Congressional District 1, which includes Oro Valley and Marana (as well as the eastern rural half of Arizona, Flagstaff and the massive Navajo reservation up north), former congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick continues to have a dominating fundraising advantage over Wenona Benally Baldenegro.
Kirkpatrick, who served one term in Congress before losing in 2010, raised nearly $357,000 over the three-month quarter, and had more than $837,000 on hand as of June 30.
Baldenegro had raised just more than $18,000 between April and June and finished the quarter with about $8,000 in the bank, and $6,200 in debt.
On the GOP side, Jonathan Paton leads the fundraising race. The former state lawmaker brought in nearly $325,000 over the quarter and had $343,100 on hand as of June 30.
Paton's GOP opponents aren't in his league. Gaither Martin has raised just more than $44,000, although he'd loaned his campaign $57,000, and ended Q2 with about $86K in the bank. Sedona contractor Doug Wade raised about $10,000 during the three-month quarter; he had about $9,000 in the bank and a debt of nearly $16,000. And the Federal Election Commission has yet to post any information about retired Show Low businessman Patrick Gatti's fundraising.