District 3's Company
The balance of power in Pima County rests in the race between Democrat Sharon Bronson and Republican Kim DeMarco
The Skinny mentioned last week that an independent campaign effort was sending a series of slick mailers hammering Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson as she seeks a sixth term against Republican Kim DeMarco.
County critics see the District 3 as critical: In all likelihood, Republicans Ally Miller and Steve Christy will win their races in Districts 1 and 4, while Democrats Ramon Valadez and Richard Elias will win their races in Districts 2 and 5. That makes District 3 the swing seat. If Bronson wins, the balance of power remains in the hands of Democrats; if DeMarco wins, then Pima County is in for a Tea Party revolution.
On paper, Bronson should be a shoo-in. Roughly 40 percent of the voters in the district are Democrats, while roughly 33 percent are independents and 27 percent are Republicans.
But there is a strong anti-incumbent fever in the air, so a lot will depend on which way those independents decide to go in this election.
The independent expenditure effort against Bronson, Revitalize America, is being led by Maricopa County's Nathan Sproul, who is the go-to political guy for local auto dealer Jim Click, so it's not hard to figure out where the money to smear Bronson is coming from. Finding out how much he's spending, however, won't be clear until the next campaign-finance report comes out at the end of this week.
One of the repeated charges by Revitalize America is that county taxes have gone up 28 percent between 2011 and 2015.
The sourcing on that pants-on-liar fib comes from the Arizona Daily Independent website, a weird mix of innuendo, plagiarism, fabrication, gossip and general bullshit that purports to be a news outlet. There's not much love lost between Sproul and ADI, as it turns out: In the past, ADI has written that Sproul is "known for running dirty and dishonest campaigns," a "political predator" and a "consummate political opportunist."
In this case, Sproul's Revitalize America is leaning on an ADI report that notes that county primary tax rates rose by 28 percent between 2012 and 2015. But that's at best half the story, as because the rates don't really determine your tax bill; they are multiplied by property values, which have fluctuated considerably over the same period, meaning that most people saw their tax bills remain relatively stable until last year, when state lawmakers tried to illegally stick Pima County with an extra property-tax bill. The county successfully fought back in court (a move that was opposed by Miller because she didn't think the county had a case) and as a result of the victory, Pima taxpayers saved about $16 million a year.
Let's look at some of the actual property tax bills in Pima County: Click's home in Tucson Country Club Estates has not increased by that much: his total tax bill climbed from $6,747 in 2012 to $7,073 in 2015, which is way less than 28 percent. Longtime county critic and Miller supporter Joe Higgins saw his total property tax bill drop from $1,551 in 2012 to $1,492 in 2015. Geri Ottoboni-Gilmore, who regularly harangues the board majority during call to the audience, saw her total property tax bill drop from $1,865 in 2012 to $1,761 in 2013 and $1,847 in 2014 before rising to $1,941 in 2015. Not exactly the "skyrocketing" tax bills that we often hear about.
But as is obvious from the above, sorting out the real impact of fluctuations in tax rates and values on the total property tax bill requires considerable explanation, which is why attack mailers based on bullshit accusations move voters and complex responses put them to sleep.
But Bronson is not without her defenders. Wading into the race on her side is none other than legendary land speculator Don Diamond, who is spending six figures on a campaign to support Bronson.
We'll find out how much of an impact any of this has on Election Day, but seeing Click battle Diamond shows how the business community is split over the future of Pima County. Besides the support of Diamond, Bronson also has endorsement of the Metro Chamber of Commerce, while the Tucson Association of Realtors and the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association are backing DeMarco.
Why the split? Well, some members of the business community want a change at Pima County, no matter what. But others recognize that putting the highly unstable Ally Miller in a position of governing would be a disaster for Pima County and the very real momentum that is gathering in areas like the biosciences and high-tech. Those efforts are starting to pay off with announcements about relocations or expansions from companies like Caterpillar, Vector, Comcast and HomeGoods. The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity recently reported that between July 2015 and July 2016, Pima County had 4.2 percent job growth with the addition of 15,000 new jobs.
Given that Miller has opposed and openly derided most of those efforts (including the effort to retain the county's largest private employer, Raytheon, which Miller has repeatedly voted against), many members of the business community recognize that putting her in charge would throw all of that off track. And some of them, having seen her crackpot behavior over the last four years, also recognize that she'd throw the entire county bureaucracy into chaos.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., so get out and vote.
Guess who's back on the radio?
Veteran local broadcaster John C. Scott is returning the airwaves.
If all goes according to plan—and the last we heard, John C. was trying install some kind of framistat on the roof—the John C. Scott Show will already be airing from 3 to 5 p.m. on KEVT, 1210 AM. Scott is not only doing his own show; he's managing the entire station with a plan to program liberal talk from morning 'til night. We wish him the best of the luck with the station and expect you'll be hearing from us on the show.
We also want to wish a fond farewell to Emil Franzi's long-running Inside Track radio show. Franzi, 78, is giving up his Saturday slot on KVOI, 1030 AM. We will miss tuning into hear what the veteran political fixer and his guests are thinking, but suspect we haven't heard the last from him.This column has been updated to reflect the correct day of Franzi's radio show.