Experts: Middle-ground voters are key in midterm battles

Voters are being flooded with political ads as candidates fight for attention in the waning weeks of the 2018 midterm primary. We spoke to two analysts who discussed the influence of federal races on local elections; midterm voter turnout; and the Trump effect.

A typical midterm election over the past 50 years has seen the party that controls the White House losing three seats in the Senate and 24 in the House, said Erich Saphir, head of the political science department at Pima Community College.

If that holds, the Democrats would end up controlling the Senate this year. There are 51 Republicans and 47 Democrats in the Senate. Two independents caucus with the Democrats.

But nothing’s for sure because Democrats are defending multiple Senate seats in states that voted for Trump in 2016, Saphir said.

Of the 35 Senate seats up for grabs, 26 are held by Democrats. The first midterm election faced by a new president is usually the most damaging for his party, Saphir said. President Obama losing 63 House seats in 2010.

“But even if it’s a terrible year for Republicans, I don’t see anything like that on the horizon,” he said.

It’s difficult to describe American elections in generalities, especially after President Trump secured the White House, said Micah Halpern, political commentator and guest columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

However, voters often tend to correct their partisan exaggeration in the midterm elections, he said.

“So if it went far to the left, it would come back to the center,” and vice versa, he said, adding that the vast majority of Americans hold moderate political values.

“Fundamentally, Americans are centrists,” he said. “We don’t hear about the centrists because they’re not very fun, they’re not entertaining, they’re not crazy and they’re not very newsworthy.”

The key to winning any election is to secure votes from the middle, he said.

Read the entire Green Valley News article here. Originally published July 24, 2018.


Animal League must turn away large dogs

For the first time in 33 years, The Animal League of Green Valley is not taking in large dogs because of financial and space reasons.

The TALGV board of directors moved Thursday to temporarily curb taking in dogs larger than 20 pounds on a temporary basis unless the animal was originally adopted from the local shelter.

The decision came as the no-kill animal shelter recognized it was depleting its financial reserves, president Jean Davis said.

“We have grown over the years by our hearts,” she said. “We had started seeing in this last year that we are spending more money then we are taking in.”

The temporary stay in admissions will be in place at least until TALGV can house all its pets on site.

The organization then needs to further clarify its boundaries regarding what programs it can provide to which service areas, Davis said.

About a year ago, the organization realized, for example, their open-door policy for accepting animals based on a first-come, first-served basis was problematic.

“We were trying to be as open-admission as we could be,” Davis said

Read the entire Green Valley News article here. Originally published July 24, 2018.

Trump meeting draws fire, but local GOP leaders not worried

President Donald Trump was met with swift and fierce condemnation on Tuesday after accepting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that Moscow didn’t meddle in the U.S. presidential election in 2016. The outrage from leaders on Capitol Hill was bipartisan.

But locally, Republican leaders aren’t worried about the comments or potential blowback on other candidates.

The president’s statements at a joint summit held in Helsinki publicly refuted a U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment report, from January, that states Moscow launched a multifaceted approach to undermine America’s democratic process and favored a Trump presidency.

By Tuesday afternoon, Trump walked back his comments and touted backing the stateside intelligence community.

“I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies — always have,” Trump said at a White House press conference. “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place.”

Read what local GOP and Democratic leaders had to say about Trump’s statements at the Green Valley News. Originally published July 18, 2018.

Carne y Vino closes abruptly

The Continental Shopping Plaza has lost another eatery in a space known for its unexpected vacancies after Carne y Vino shut down earlier this month.

A hand-written sign still hung on the front door Friday afternoon: “Sorry for the inconvenience. We are closed.”

Kathleen Mapelsden, assistant property manager at Continental Shopping Plaza, said owner Juan Herrera Sr. dropped by her office to say he was struggling financially about a week before Carne y Vino shuttered. He did not indicate he was thinking of closing shop.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published July 18, 2018.

Battle of the bonds: Multiple Pima County initiatives could split vote in November

Green Valley Council President Don Weaver said a parks improvement bond may derail a county road bond project, because they will both appear on November’s ballot.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors decided July 3 to place a $430 million road bond, by a vote of 4 to 1, in front of voters come November.

Two weeks prior, Tucson City Council moved to ask voters, 6-1, to pass a $225 million bond that will improve city parks and road connectivity projects like bicycle boulevards.

It will cost at least $1 billion to bring county roads up to speed, according to county estimates.

The GVC Executive Committee will discuss whether or not to endorse the county’s bond initiative on Wednesday, Weaver said. But they won’t rush propping up this project.

“The key here is, this is the only option for Pima County,” he said. “But I don’t want to force it.”

Weaver said he’s sure that Tucson roads need to be fixed just like other local throughways. However, he’s concerned that voters will balk at giving a green light to two bond packages in one election.

Communicating an accurate message about the county road bond is essential, he said. Not only will taxes not increase, but the county has done an exemplary job managing general obligation bonds in the past, he added.

If the county road bond passes, the current secondary property tax rate of 69 cents per $100 of assessed value will remain intact until the additional general obligation debit is paid. Currently, Pima County has more than $275 million in bond debt, which at its current rate of repayment will be repaid in about 11 years.

According to county estimates, if the secondary property tax holds at its current rate, the county will be able to repay its current debt as well as the additional $430 million by the end of FY 2030.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published July 11, 2018.

Tactical drawings par excellence: Patriotic artist a local pastor

Whether designing a piece or rendering a drawing, the first step is having a concept for the work, Joonho “JK” Kim says. Technique is something that an artist develops over time, and Kim says he has a “God-given” talent that allows him to visualize the end result of his art before placing pencil to paper. So sitting down to create the piece at home in Sahuarita is a matter of executing this internal image.

“It sounds like bragging, but it’s true,” Kim says. “God made me very good at what I do.”

Kim is tactical artist who creates depictions of law enforcement agencies in action. He also makes patriotic art. During the last 12 years, this 61-year-old has earned international recognition.

His Rancho Sahuarita home studio is littered with tactical drawings commissioned by law enforcement agencies from across the country. Some of the art will never see the light of day because of the department who paid for the work.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published July 10, 2018.

County disagrees with ACLU opinion on ICE agents in jails

An ACLU attorney whose opinion on ICE agents operating within the county jail complex was shredded by a Pima County staff attorney has dismissed the counter opinion as “political” and non-binding.

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Billy Peard argued in a May 7 memo that the Pima County Board of Supervisors can legally bar U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from operating within the county jail.

Peard’s memo stated that the county could be held liable for jail operations deemed as “tortious acts committed by its sheriff.”

Under this tort — a wrongful act or infringement of a civil right — the board can control how the sheriff operates a county jail and can impede ICE operations, Peard said.

Peard said there are board members who would like to remove ICE from the county jail, and they “can take action if they deem it desirable to do so.”

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published on July 6, 2018.

Years-long battle didn’t end like neighbors wanted

It took more than five years, but they finally have an answer. It just may not be the one they wanted to hear.

A few residents in Green Valley Vistas, off San Ignacio in northern Green Valley, were alarmed when they saw a huge RV garage going up behind a resident’s house. The home was 1,643 square feet. The garage was more than double that.

After the garage was completed, the heavy traffic began, residents said. There goes the neighborhood, they thought.

The garage belongs to Jeffrey Swigert, who operates Green Valley Garage Doors from his home at San Ignacio and La Canoa. It’s a licensed home-occupation business.

On Thursday, the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality inspected the business and found one code violation. Swigert has 30 days to submit a corrective action plan to the county.

Residents were hoping for a lot more.

The complaints started when Swigert built a structure that went through the permit and variance process under “somewhat questionable” circumstances, said resident Gerald G. Findling in a letter to former Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll dated Jan. 6, 2013.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published on July 4, 2018. Photo courtesy of GV News and Sun.

Pima County voters will decide $430 million bond for road repairs

Voters will get to decide in November whether to start fixing county roads using $430 million in bonds.

The proposal, approved in a 4-1 vote Tuesday by the Pima County Board of Supervisors, is the latest plan to raise an estimated $1 billion needed to address repair and maintenance issues.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry listed a string of failed plans to fix county roads and said the bond is the last option available.

District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller was the lone no vote. She said the board has not prioritized road repairs over the years and has the money in the budget to make it happen if it had the will.

“The people don’t trust us anymore and they shouldn’t trust us,” she said Tuesday.

District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy, who represents Green Valley and part of Sahuarita, voted for the bond resolution, saying voters should have the final say.

“The voters will decide and that’s how it should be,” he said.

Read the entire Green Valley News article here. Originally published on July 3, 2018.