Q-and-A with Apache Junction mayor candidate Dave Waldron

Dave Waldron

Two Apache Junction residents are running for mayor and four for three seats on the council in the Aug. 28 primary election. The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent e-mailed questionnaires to the candidates. They will be posted online in the order they were received.

Name: Dave Waldron.

Age: 69.

Education: Bachelor of science degree.

Present or most recent business/employment: IT for Horizon Health and Wellness; IT for CACDD.

Previous public office, boards and commissions (and what years): planning and zoning commission, 2000-03; city council (current); vice-chair CAG Regional Council (current); chair of the Pinal County Regional Transportation Authority (current).

What is the role of the city council?: Council members represent the citizens of Apache Junction to city management. The council sets policy direction for the city and the city manager implements that direction. Apache Junction has a strong manager form of government so the manager is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the city.

If elected, what will you accomplish in your first 100 days in office?: The 100-day deadline is never realistic and creates a false promise. Communication between council members can be addressed quickly as well as discussing and setting the priorities of the new council. Rebuilding relationships with our governmental neighbors would be a high priority for me so Apache Junction is an integral part of the East Valley.

What are your hopes for the city of Apache Junction?: Apache Junction will continue to grow and my hope is for sustained growth not just expansion. Infill properties and infrastructure needs to be the development priority. If we are to attract businesses we need to continue to get a clear understanding of the requirements of the business community as it relates to adding a location in Apache Junction. If we solely concentrate on the state land to the south we run the risk of creating two separate areas of Apache Junction as opposed to a unified Apache Junction. It’s important to have sustained growth throughout the city by marketing the infill property as well.

How would you rate the state of public transportation in the city of Apache Junction? What changes would you recommend?: Since there is no public transportation in Apache Junction, it has to be rated as non-existence. I would like to see a shuttle-type service that would connect with Valley Metro to give folks that option. With the increase in ride-sharing opportunities more transportation options have become available. During election cycles there is always talk about a bus service in Apache Junction. Some folks will recall this has been tried in the past and met with failure; there just wasn’t enough ridership to sustain the service. I would like to see a ride-choice program where folks can get some reimbursement for taking friends, neighbors and/or family members to medical appointment. It isn’t as easy as buying a bus and hoping it works, it has to be profitable or at a minimum pay for itself, it has to be sustainable and it has to operate with extended hours.

Name one un-funded or under-funded program or project you would promote as a member of the city council and why: We need to increase the funding to our current senior-citizen program. The city, through parks and recreation, took over this program when the previous vendor was no longer able to sustain the program. Seniors are a vulnerable population and we need to ensure adequate funding is available for the current program. It would also be nice to add some dollars to the health and human services budget to be able to provide more services through non-profits to Apache Junction residents.

What types of jobs does Apache Junction need? What is your plan for economic development?: Other than heavy industrial I’m not sure the type of job is what’s important so long as they are jobs that pay a living wage to sustain families. Economic development shouldn’t be restricted based on the types of jobs and the economic-development staff needs to have the ability to pursue opportunities as they become available or are developed. Not only working on new opportunities but also working with existing businesses as needed and the opportunity to take the time needed with businesses to understand their needs. Businesses that look at A.J. as a possible location will look to see that businesses are treated equally and one type isn’t favored over others, how the city interacts with all current businesses and the market that can be served. A.J. needs to be prepared to discuss these situations with potential businesses, small and large.

What makes you different from the other candidates? How will you make a difference on the city council?: Everyone is important and everyone must be treated with respect. That’s what I will bring as mayor. Our citizens deserve respect, city staff deserves respect and council members deserve respect. Transparency is absolutely critical so the people of Apache Junction, staff and council members know how everything works. Transparency is created by being open and honest with everyone as information becomes available, with the exception of that information protected by law. The difference I will make on the council will be not excluding certain council members when looking for information on an issue. That is, each council member has various experiences that add to solutions and/or proposals and that need to be considered. No council member should be excluded because they might have an opposing view. Transparency is absolutely necessary from all members of the council and I will promote that as a priority.

If residents of Gold Canyon petitioned to be annexed into the city of Apache Junction, would you vote yes? Why or why not?: Before any vote would be taken as a yes or no, certain information would have to be gathered not the least of which would be a financial-viability study. There seems to be this feeling that, say Gold Canyon petitioned Apache Junction, that it would be a done deal. Can the services that Apache Junction would have to undertake in Gold Canyon be sustained by the businesses community? I ask because Apache Junction operates on sales tax, we have no city property tax, so what would be the cost/benefit to Apache Junction under this scenario? That question would have to be answered before there would be a yes/no vote. By the way, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for them to present a petition for annexation, they seem quite happy as they are.

What opportunities do you see for regional collaboration?: Being on the edge of a Valley with close to five million people we have to collaborate with neighboring cities, counties and tribal governments. By working with the other entities information is gathered and passed along as a way to help each other. Apache Junction can’t be isolated by not offering and receiving mutual respect of our government neighbors and organizations promoting our region. Networking with them on a regular basis is vital for Apache Junction and our future. In doing so, we position ourselves to be on the mind of our neighbors when opportunities arise. Networking isn’t just going to board meetings with these folks, it’s dealing with them every chance we get and we have to use those opportunities to invest in Apache Junction.

In August voters will decide if a permanent base adjustment budget is approved in one election that would be adjusted annually by population and inflation. Are you in favor of this? Why or why not?: Yes I am in favor of it. Like most cities and towns in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Apache Junction has seen significant growth since 1978. When the state-imposed formula was originally developed, Apache Junction had a population of less than 10,000. Today, Apache Junction is more than 39,000 residents and is poised for more growth. The city now provides many services it did not provide in 1979, such as its many parks and recreation facilities and programs, library services and programs, a full-time police department, water treatment and distribution, municipal court system, new streets, sidewalks and trails as well as additional parks. As Apache Junction has grown, so too have revenues and operating costs. Every four years since 1983, Apache Junction voters have approved the temporary “Home Rule” Alternative Expenditure Limitation option. When compared to the “Home Rule” Alternative Expenditure Limitation, the Permanent Base Adjustment would save on administration and election costs every four years along with allowing the city council to address future budget needs with an expenditure base that is in line with current revenue, population and inflation trends. It allows the city to spend the revenue it collects for programs it operates in a manner that adequately serves the needs of the community based on current financial conditions. It is in the best interest of the city and its residents to permanently adjust the state imposed budget base by allowing the city to use the sales tax collected in a balanced budget. This will not raise your taxes; it simply sets a permanent base for budgeting purposes as opposed to the 1979-80 base.

Twitter: @ajtravelers.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ajazwaldron.

Website: None.

E-mail: dave_waldron@live.com.

Campaign office phone number: 480-250-0944.

The Apache Junction Independent publishes a daily newsletter and website. A print edition is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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