Tucson native Terry Parish II is running for a four-year Oro Valley council seat on a platform of public safety and targeted growth.
The 34-year-old Pima County Sheriff's Department sergeant and father of three young children said he's running to protect and enhance the quality of life in Oro Valley.
"Once you lose control, you can't turn back. You can't turn back the clock on Tucson," he said. "I want to prevent us from losing control of Oro Valley. We need to maintain our (tough on crime) reputation."
Parish said he is not against growth but neither is he pro-developer. "I am for targeted growth," he said. "The council is at an important crossroads. It's going to have to look at development issues and problems from a broader perspective."
As part of his public safety platform, Parish supports the Oro Valley Police Officers Association in its efforts to gain union representation. The police association is a local affiliate of the statewide 5,000-member Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs.
"The police issue is very important," he said. "They want the right to elect a group to represent them when they negotiate with the town manager for pay and benefits. I don't see a problem" with that."
Parish is a member of the Pima County Deputy Sheriff's Association, an affiliate of AZCOPS.
AZCOPS has "been a great thing for law enforcement in Arizona," he said. "It's helped empower police in wages and legal protection. I'm glad AZCOPS is trying to help the police."
A second public safety issue for the candidate concerns the town's fire services, currently supplied by two different providers, Golder Ranch Fire District and Rural/Metro Fire Department.
"We need to enlarge Golder Ranch to include Oro Valley and have Golder Ranch be the sole fire service provider," he said. "I have a problem with the town creating its own fire department. Why create another level of bureaucracy? We're not gaining anything and we're spending money we don't have. The only way to pay for it is with a property tax, and that's a slippery slope."
As a citizen, Parish has attended council meetings and study sessions and other town board meetings when they concerned police and fire issues and the controversial Beztak development planned for La Canada Drive and Lambert Lane.
Parish, who is president of the Villages of La Cañada Homeowners Association, and other neighbors circulated petitions asking that the council not allow Beztak to amend a plan that was originally presented to them as an upscale shopping center, he said.
The Oro Valley Town Council approved the new plan, a mix of commercial and residential development, in August.
"We still got a lot accomplished," he said. "We raised the issue of safety for children on skateboards or bikes who would be sharing driveways with commercial users. As a result, the apartment complex is now gated so there will be no through-flow through the complex from La Canada to Lambert Lane."
The group also fought for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design concepts, he said. "It's landscaping that allows visual corridors so that you know who's in the parking lot with you." He believes town staff eliminated some CPTED designs to preserve views for renters. "When you sacrifice safety for a view shed, I have a problem with that," he said.
The candidate plans to devote 25 to 30 hours a week or "as much as it takes" to town business. To accommodate evening council meetings and study sessions, he requested and received a transfer from the day shift in the nearby Foothills District to nights in the Rincon District on the East side of Tucson.
"It will help avoid potential conflicts," he said. "The department didn't want anything I did to be perceived as politically motivated."
Parish gives the current council a grade of B or C+ for their performance over the past two years.
"You can never make all the people happy all the time," he said. "I don't agree with everything they've done. But they're working hard for us, whether we appreciate it or not.
The candidate, a registered Republican, said he doesn't anticipate that party affiliation will affect the race. "I hope partisan politics never has anything to do with town politics," he said. "We should be issues oriented."
Overall, he believes most people are happy in Oro Valley. "We live in a crime free area with great views and open space. Are there things we need to improve? Absolutely. But I don't think a whole lot of us have too much to complain about."
Parish is a native Arizonan, born in Phoenix and raised in northwest Tucson and Marana. His father and campaign manager is also Terry Parish, a lieutenant with the Pima County Sheriff's Department. His mother works with the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Tucson.
In 1978, when Parish was 9, cop killer Charles Coleman locked his father in the back of his own patrol car and drove the older Parish into the desert to kill him.
"I heard the officer in distress sirens," said his son. "We knew he was late coming home."
Miraculously, the killer changed his mind and released him unharmed.
"He took Dad into the desert but didn't kill him, because he was nice to him," said the younger Parish, who likes to relate that story to new deputies.
"I teach my guys that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," he said. "Treat people with respect and try to be amicable and polite."
Coleman was executed in 1993 in Oklahoma.
Parish graduated from Marana High School, where he edited the school paper and won several journalism awards. He studied political science at Pima Community College, but never finished, although he was a brown belt on the judo team and competed nationally for a few years.
The candidate met his wife Sarah at the El Conquistador resort, where she worked in banquets while he worked security. "She came in once without her identification and it was my job to check up on her."
The couple married in 1991 and had three children, two still under 5.
Sarah, also a native Tucsonan, teaches middle school children with special needs.
Parish spent six or seven years at Galloway Chrysler Plymouth Jeep Eagle in Tucson as a car salesman and customer relations director and then service manager supervising eight mechanics.
The couple waited until their first child was three and then in 1996, Parish enrolled in the Tucson Police Academy.
"I always wanted to be a cop and have always been very proud of my father," he said. "There are some bad things about the job and the stresses it causes families, but in the end the mission is more important, and worth it."
As an undercover detective on the south side of Tucson, Parish was part of a unique, focused effort that successfully cleaned up a transient camp of 100 people. "A lot of them were transporting narcotics for local drug dealers so they could support their habit," he said. "Some of those people we put into drug treatment or mental health facilities, or hooked up with social services." Some just needed homes. Some went to jail.
"We did it with long-range thinking, the same way we need to address growth today," he said. "Target resources for the long term, not just put a band-aid on it and call it a day."
Parish received the Medal of Valor in 1999, while working as a detective with the sheriff department's domestic violence unit.
"I heard a call go out on the radio - I knew the parties involved," he said. A man shot up a trailer park and kidnapped his pregnant wife. His 5-year-old stepchild had escaped unharmed.
While police were at the scene, the suspect returned. Parish and another cop were on the ground running along side the man's car when they saw him put a gun to his wife's head. The other officer fired. The suspect turned, and Parish shot and killed him.
Of his policing career, he said, "It's forced me to be comfortable speaking under any circumstances and comfortable negotiating under the worst of circumstances. I hope to use those skills at an even higher level."
Parish is currently enrolled in the town's Citizen Planning Institute.
Family: Married 13 years, 3 children
Education: Attended Pima Community College
Profession/Employer: Pima County Sheriff's Department, Sergeant
Lived in Arizona: 34 years
Lived in Oro Valley: 4 years
Came to Arizona from: N/A, Native
Public offices held: None
Other biographical data:
President of the Villages of La CanadaHomeowners Association.
Why he's running for council:
I want to protect and enhance the quality of life we currently enjoy in Oro Valley for my children. As Oro Valley grows we will face many challenges, especially in the areas of public safety. Council Member Werner Wolff has always been a great advocate for providing the best in public safety for the residents of Oro Valley. Councilman Wolff has decided not to run for re-election. I believe that I am uniquely qualified to be the new public safety advocate for Oro Valley. Like Councilman Wolff, I have a background in law enforcement. As a working sergeant for the Pima County Sheriff's Department I am also very aware of the current crime trends in the areas that surround us, and effective measures we can take to prevent them from coming here.
I am running for election on a public safety platform. I believe very strongly in preserving the relative crime free environment in which we live. One way to accomplish this is to support the police while creating recreational opportunities for families. There are no better crime fighters than strong families. I also believe that Golder Ranch Fire should be the single fire service provider for the entirety of Oro Valley. Oro Valley should be our concern, which leads us to the basic questions. Who can provide better service to Oro Valley? Golder Ranch is better, faster, and will save town residents money.