NPR 89.1

2020 Pima County Supervisors District 4 Candidate Guide

Board of Supervisors candidates respond to an AZPM survey, weighing in on issues facing the community and how to solve them. Responses have not been edited.
The Candidates
Steve Diamond
Pima County

Steve Diamond

Democrat
Steve Christy
Pima County

Steve Christy

Republican

Why are you running for this office?

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond I’m running because I’m passionate about the well-being and the future of our community and because I’m dismayed by the divisiveness I’ve seen during several years of observing the current Board. I'm also dismayed by attempts to count some voices in the community as being more worthy to be heard than others. I pledge to represent all the people of Pima County, not just entrenched special interests.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy To continue my four top priorities I’ve championed during my first term: Fixing our Roads; supporting our Law Enforcement Community; advocating relentlessly for Small Businesses; and reopening our local economy.

What do you think are the top issues of concern for Pima County in the next 5 years?

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond • Economic recovery and development, without which we won't have the means to invest in other projects.
• Preserving the environment, especially ensuring a clean water supply and clean air for future generations.
• Climate change; sustainable energy use.
• Early childhood education, one of the best investments we can make in the future.
• Criminal justice reform.
• Affordable housing and tenant-landlord reform to reverse the tide of evictions and homelessness.
• Repairing and rebuilding our roads and other infrastructure.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy Infrastructure/transportation challenges; reopening our local economy; promoting tourism and attractions; attracting new jobs by attracting new businesses; retaining the businesses we already have in Pima County; focusing on overall economic development.

How well is the county handling the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected or reelected, would you change anything to respond differently?

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond The county was a little slow in implementing widespread testing and contact tracing, but it's doing much better recently. The county has published sensible guidelines on when and how businesses can reopen, but it's been hampered by state regulations that supersede the county's. If elected, I would push back harder against the governor's attempts to dictate non-negotiable local policy.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy The County has demonstrated a “knee jerk” reaction to dealing with Covid-19 without fully reflecting on the unintended consequences such an approach causes. Such actions have placed unnecessary and devastating sanctions and punitive actions on businesses and schools. I would continue to work towards changing the County’s mindset that businesses are not the bad guy and that businesses can be trusted to do the right thing.

What ideas do you have to help the local economy recover after the pandemic fallout?

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond I intend to help grow the local economy out of the present recession without imposing tax increases or giving away taxpayer money. My economic plan will invest county money to support the economy from the ground up, helping existing local businesses to expand and new ones to start up. We can do this by redirecting county money that currently gets spent outside the area, and buying more from local companies. We can also lobby other large institutional spenders, like hospitals and universities, to redirect their spending locally. Our focus should shift toward retaining and developing companies that keep their profits right here in Pima County, with less emphasis on attracting outside companies whose profits go mostly to outside shareholders.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy Much opportunity for recovery has been lost and is too late. I would continue to work to ease restrictive regulations on businesses-even temporarily removing them-and insist that Pima County gets out of the way of businesses and let the creativity of business owners lead by doing what they know and do best-taking action to make sure their business survive and remain profitable.

If elected, would you vote to accept Stonegarden funds?

ResponseSteve Diamond DiamondSteve Christy Christy
Yes
No
Explain your answer to Stonegarden funding (optional).
Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond The Operation Stonegarden is not "free money." It comes with strings attached. The grant requires our sheriff's deputies to work for the US Border Patrol under the direct supervision of BP agents. Our deputies must make saturation traffic stops on flimsy pretexts such as a broken taillight. Then they must call ICE to determine the immigration status of anyone they deem suspicious. This leads to rampant racial profiling, as documented in data collected by the Sheriff's Department, and it leads to distrust in our most vulnerable communities. These activities do not help keep us safe, which should be the number one mission of our deputies. Deputies should not be forced to act as immigration agents.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy I have always and consistently advocated accepting all Stonegarden grants and other State and Federal fundings. We have a crisis in Pima County, particularly along our southern border, dealing with drug cartels, human and gun trafficking and illegal entry into Pima County. Stonegarden grants would provide much needed financial aid and would give our Law Enforcement entities the support necessary to provide for the safety of our citizens and our community. It makes no sense that after 12 years of unanimous acceptance of these very same grants by the Board of Supervisors, that suddenly they have become unacceptable.

What do you think of Pima County's property tax rate?

ResponseSteve Diamond DiamondSteve Christy Christy
Too high
Good as is
Too low
Explain your answer to the property tax rate question above (optional).
Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond This is not the time to be tinkering with tax rates. Rather, we should be examining the county budget and looking for better, more efficient ways to spend the taxpayers' money. If elected, I pledge to review the budget in detail, renouncing "business as usual" and reassessing each item.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy There is room to lower even further the County’s primary tax rate. By doing so, this would act as a buffer and counter-balance to rising property value assessments.

Do you support "defunding" the Pima County Sheriff's Department in any way, and shifting any of its duties to other departments (mental health, for example)?

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond Yes. Some kinds of incidents where armed deputies currently respond can be handled better by others. Examples include disruptive behavior, a mental health issue better suited to psychiatric social workers. One objective of reallocating funds and duties would be to prevent deadly force from being deployed in situations where it's not appropriate.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy I do not support in any way any defunding of the Pima County Sheriffs Department. In fact, I support the opposite. I don’t support “shifting duties”, but perhaps adding them as additional resources.

Voters rejected new bonds to pay for road repair. Should the county ask the voters again, or continue with its current approach?

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond The current approach is unsustainable, especially with the Pay As You Go (PAYGO) program suspended due to the pandemic recession. We don't have enough money to maintain roads on an optimum schedule. We must continue to lobby the state aggressively to return to the counties Highway Use and Vehicle License money that they've been withholding, and I think we should revisit the question of a new bond issue after the economy has a chance to recover, perhaps in 2022.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy PAYGO is the best alternative at this time. Our road repair plan will not be halted as we utilize Certificates of Participation (extremely low interest, short-term bonds) to kick start the PAYGO program and keep on track, post Covid-19, programming road repair. The RTA should be renewed.

Do you support Pima County using taxpayer funds to assist businesses, especially startups like WorldView Enterprises?

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond Yes, especially for startups like World View that have headquarters here in Pima County and for established companies like Accelerate Diagnostics that move their headquarters here. The county's investment in these companies is calculated to return a profit to taxpayers after a period of time, while simultaneously contributing to the local economy through jobs and local spending. Accelerate Diagnostics, for example, employs more than 100 workers at an average annual salary of more than $90,000.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy Not as a general rule, as the WVE example created troubling issues. Each instance of business assistance potential should be thoughtfully, carefully and fully discerned while simultaneously insuring taxpayers safeguards and protections. No “emergency” actions of taxpayer financial assistance should be allowed. That’s how mistakes occur.

Should the county be responsible for making universal early childhood education a reality? If yes, how would you go about making that happen?

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond Yes, the county should collaborate with other public and private organizations to provide universal early childhood education. It's one of the best investments we can make in our future, while at the same time relieving childcare burdens on working families. To fund and implement it will require cooperation and creativity. I would work toward obtaining funding from federal, state, city, private, and county sources. And I would work toward a coalition of experts for planning and implementation.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy No. ECE is not and should not be a County responsibility, nor should it ever be allowed to become a matter for the Board of Supervisors.

What do you think of the job County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is doing?

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond Mr. Huckelberry is an effective administrator with an encyclopedic knowledge of Pima County's operations. However, his relationship with the Board of Supervisors is unbalanced. If elected, I will work toward a more proactive Board that sets policy and directs the County Administrator to implement it.
Steve Christy
Steve Christy I believe it is time for Mr. Huckleberry to retire and it’s time for a change in the County Administrators position. A new set of eyes, ideas and a overall approach are now needed. The County Administrator has become a lightning rod for all that has become deemed negative in Pima County.
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