OV COUNCIL CANDIDATES PREPARE FOR RUNOFF - The Explorer: Import

OV COUNCIL CANDIDATES PREPARE FOR RUNOFF

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Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2002 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:46 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

With the May 21 election less than a month away, Oro Valley council candidates Lyra Done and Paula Abbott prepare for anoter run in politics.

LYRA DONE: BANKING ON AGE AND EXPERIENCE

Town Council candidate Lyra Done is pinning her hopes for election in the May 21 runoff election on a record of commitment.

"Week after week, month after month, year after year I have been here to discover what was going on in this little community," Done said. "If voters want the kind of councilmember that always stays interested, is committed and has proven their commitment through past loyalty, it's me. It's a proven track record.

"My age and experience help me know the ins and outs of the older segment of the community, but my family helps me stay in touch with all the things in between," she said.

"I've proven my commitment to this town," Done said, adding that few people have gone to more council meetings than her. Among those is town founder Jim Kriegh, who has rarely missed a council meeting over the past 20 plus years other than for two open heart surgeries. "I expect to win," Done said. " But if I don't, I'll still be there," unlike candidates who only show up while they're running and then disappear never to be heard from again unless they're ticked about something, she said.

Neither Done, 65, nor Paula Abbott, 41, was able to win a majority in the town's March 12 primary election. Abbott received 39.4 percent of the votes cast to Done's 26 percent.

Done said she blamed no one but herself for the poor showing. She said she thought she would do better with direct mail campaign literature, but that didn't work. Looking back, she said, the mailings just "didn't have enough substance."

As a result, this time around there will be a change in campaigning with less emphasis on mailings and more emphasis on signs and ads. And of course, a lot more talking to people, with greater emphasis on the issues.

Done said she's been less critical than others of the town's efforts to develop a General Plan, improve transportation and bring Central Arizona Project water to town, because she's been witness to those efforts and is far more aware than many of the progress being made.

As an example, Done noted that just days before the primary the Town Council approved a plan to hasten bringing renewable water to Oro Valley ahead of developing a delivery system for the Central Arizona Project. It was a move she supported.

"If I were to have said 'those louses, when are they going to do something,' how would that have looked. The town did exactly what I would have done," Done said.

Similar progress is being made in terms of the town's General Plan and Naranja Town Site development, but criticisms are being leveled in these areas by people who don't know what's going on, she said.

Done, a broker with Prudential Aegis Realty, is currently serving on the town's Board of Adjustment, Budget and Bond Committee and Naranja Task Force Executive Committee. She is a graduate of the town's Citizen's Planning Institute and served as a member of the citizen's interview panel for the police chief position in 2000. She is also president of the board of directors of the Carmel Pointe Homeowners Association and has served as president and treasurer of the Oro Valley Civitan Club.

She was named the Women's Council of Realtors Woman of the Year in 2001, as well as Realtor of the Year by the Women's Council of Realtors. She has also received a Community Champion Award from the Prudential Foundation and an award from the Hearth Foundation.

Done said she has found too many people saying this or that is what the town wants in connection with a particular issue when, as in the case of the town's plans to annex 360 acres in Rancho Vistoso, the town's voters are saying the opposite.

In the Rancho Vistoso annexation case, Done said, people claimed residents wanted Pima County to handle it, while at the same the county was approving the annexation, voters in Oro Valley were saying they wanted the town to do so.

Done is counting on winning over the 954 registered voters in Oro Valley who never even cast a vote in the primary as well as the many who she said apparently threw their mail ballots away thinking they were just sample ballots.

She suffers no illusions about being able to capture the majority of the 1,459 votes, or 20.5 percent of those cast, that went to the third candidate in the council primary, Emily Smith Sleigh.

"Being as realistic as possible, in a worse case scenario, she (Abbott) will get more of Emily's votes," Done said.

To counter that, Done said she has sought assistance from her Oro Valley supporters to see that more people vote this time around. "Now all I need is one vote," she said. "That's all it takes."

Abbott and Done understate it, but both are playing the age card.

Abbott's campaign theme is one that calls for broader representation on the council of the town's 50 and under population. She stresses her educational background, which includes a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from the University of Arizona and associate science degree in mathematics from Cochise Community College.

Done, meanwhile, is saying "I represent, in one way or another, everyone who lives in this town. OK, so I'm not 21. I understand the people of Sun City and what their needs are. But I also have children and grandchildren who keep me well apprised of what's going on in the generations beneath me.

"I'm an extremely well rounded person," Done said. "I'm not this narrow category of psychology or whatever. This comes from my being older. As we get older we have more opportunities to experience different things and have had more opportunities to serve in different capacities that are all building and honing our leadership skills. I've been honing my leadership skills since I was 19."

Comparing herself to Abbott in another vein, Done said "I don't think she can outdo me in my energy and enthusiasm."

In addition, 40 years in business, Done said, has given her an understanding of budgets and bottom lines, and as a result a greater understanding of the needs and problems that businesses in Oro Valley face and the importance of remembering in particular those small businesses that have invested so much in the community.

PAULA ABBOTT: COUNCIL NEEDS YOUTH MOVEMENT

One thing Oro Valley Town Council candidate Paula Abbott would like to see come out of the May 21 runoff for the only vacancy on the council is as broad a demographic representation of the town as possible.

Should that happen, Abbott could be the one sitting in that council seat when the election is over.

Neither Abbott, 41, nor Lyra Done, 65, her runoff foe, were able to garner the necessary vote majority to avoid the May election. Abbott received 39.4 percent of the votes cast, Done 26 percent in the March 12 primary.

"We desperately need representation for residents under age 50 and families, which I would estimate constitutes more than 50 percent of the town's population," said Abbott, a mother of two sons, 14 and 10.

Among the keys to being able to broaden council representation, Abbott said, will be harvesting the 1,459 votes, or 20.5 percent of the total cast, that went to the third candidate in the primary, Emily Smith Sleigh.

Abbott estimated she has an excellent chance of doing just that since both she and Sleigh stand for many of the same things, including greater accessibility of the public to elected officials and a commitment to follow the will of the people.

Abbott, a loan officer for Allied Mortgage, viewed the primary election returns as a reflection of widespread support for her based on the name recognition she's built up through her involvement in community affairs as an Oro Valley resident during the past nine years, backing siphoned off somewhat by those who voted for Sleigh.

She is a former president of the committee responsible for creating Wildlife Ridge Park in Rancho Vistoso, a nine-year parent volunteer at Copper Creek Elementary and Wilson schools, a former campaign associate for United Way, a Heart Association volunteer and a former member of the Oro Valley Neighborhood Coalition.

To succeed in this second go around, "I think all I need to do is keep focusing on the issues I think are important," she said. Those issues include creating more parks and high-tech job opportunities and expanding the town's transportation system with direct bus service to major employers such as Raytheon.

She would try to increase citizen participation by getting residents involved in the decision-making processes at the earliest stage possible so they can "better understand how a proposed development will impact them, their values and quality of life."

In Abbott's view, citizens often are brought into the participation process too late. More effort should be made to bring residents in to participate at the pre-development stage, she said.

As an example, Abbott noted the stiff opposition Canyon Del Oro Partners is encountering in plans to develop the 130-acre Pusch Ridge Center, a combined commercial-residential center in the La Reserve area on the east side of Oracle Road.

Abbott said she would be better able to support those development efforts if they followed the town's General Plan, but can't because the type of development proposed doesn't fit in this neighborhood and residents are concerned about their property values and quality of life. "I think they're trying to do something residents don't want," she said.

On another issue, Abbott said council members should appoint their own representatives to the important town boards such as the Planning and Zoning Commission and Development Review Board and noted that appointments to these boards currently are made by the council as a whole and don't necessarily reflect the views of each council member.

She would encourage a distinction of needs and wants by the town's residents and a prioritization of needs by the community at large.

"High on my list of wants is to develop the Naranja Town Site," a 213-acre site comprised of 175 acres of the former CalMat of Arizona asphalt plant east of the Copper Creek subdivision and 38 acres to the south of Copper Creek Elementary School, Abbott said.

Residents may have to show a little patience while the town determines the means by which the park will be funded since the cost of doing so is estimated at more than $40 million, Abbott said.

Because of that cost, Abbott said the park may have to be developed in stages, concentrating first on the construction of a community center, complete with an indoor track and basketball courts financed out of either sales tax revenues or the sale of bonds, with voter approval.

She is opposed to taxing residents for the park improvements and instead would prefer bond financing, but said that will be up to voters to decide.

In addition to bringing broader age bracket representation to the council, Abbott pointed to her education - a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from the University of Arizona and an associate science degree in mathematics from Cochise Community College - as an element that will give her an edge over Done.

"Residents understand the importance of an education and a council that reflects the demographics of our town," she said. "My education, energy and success in solving neighborhood issues will be an asset to this town."

Abbott attributed her inability to garner the necessary majority vote in the primary at least in part to a difference in the dynamics between the race for mayor and council.

While there were the same number of candidates in both races, two of the mayoral candidates had the more difficult task of overcoming an incumbent, Mayor Paul Loomis, who had a track record of leadership, Abbott said. So there was greater pressure on the council candidates to prove themselves, she said.

Abbott would have preferred to have systems developed for bringing both Central Arizona Project water and effluent to the town at the same time, but said she could find no fault with the town's decision to concentrate on bringing in effluent first to get golf courses off ground water, particularly since it won't interfere with plans for simultaneously developing a CAP delivery system.

She is opposed to the use of property taxes to finance either the Naranja Town Site improvements or CAP-related costs unless that's the means voters prefer, advocating first an exploration of all funding alternatives available, not only on these two projects, but all major improvement projects.

In urging voters to support her, Abbott concluded by saying "People realize the need for balance in the community and if they don't vote for me they won't have that balanced representation."

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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