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District 2 supervisors' race focuses on rising costs, new business
Developing new business and deciding how to approach rising costs with less monies were key issues Thursday in the District 2 Board of Supervisors debate at Harvest Preparatory Academy, 350 E. 18th St.
Republican incumbent Russell McCloud and democratic challenger Donna Phipps said that incentivizing companies and ensuring they have the ability to educate workers were keys to increasing economic interest in the area.
McCloud, currently the vice chairman of the five-member board, explained that Yuma County is attempting to attract high-tech, good-paying jobs. Public-private partnerships, he said, were one way to make improvements. Phipps, the Arizona Public Service community development manager for Yuma and La Paz counties, highlighted the need to ensure educators and businesses work together to implement practices essential to the continued development of the workforce.
On the issue of alternative energy, and the jobs it could provide, McCloud said Arizona faces tremendous challenges when competing against other states. The problem of lack of incentives would not be solved by Yuma County, but that the Board of Supervisors would continue to work with state representatives to remedy the problem. He said the state was losing solar farms and manufacturing plants that would provide alternative-energy jobs.
Phipps said alternative energy is “cost-prohibitive” at times without incentives. She said if there are no tax incentives or credits passed through congress for a project her company is working on near Gila Bend the project will likely stop. She said public-private partnerships and collaboration between the cities of Yuma, Somerton, San Luis and others and the county would help avoid repeating past problems. She said the county will “struggle to provide mandatory services at county level with budget issues.”
McCloud said relationships have been “steadily improving” between the county and various cities, and that he expects the trend to continue.
Regarding a question from the audience, Phipps said new public parks were beyond the means of the county. McCloud said it could be done, but that it would have to come through improvement districts started by individual areas themselves.
Neither candidate liked state-based plans for school consolidation and ridiculed them for not taking local interests into account.
McCloud said the county, with state help, should provide for easier legal immigration for workers that have to come across border and facilitate movement in a legal and orderly manner. He also wants to reimburse counties on the border for expenses which are “immense.”
Both also vouched not to raise taxes, with McCloud saying that he heard from people who are “unhappy with property taxes. There is no way I will support any taxes. No new taxes, no tax increases.”
Phipps said the “state tax revenues are down because people are using their disposable income” to pay for milk and gas.
Phipps said to counter costs, she would “like to see us, countywide, institute a “best-practices” system. There is no one any better than employees in the trenches doing he jobs telling you how to save money and cut the budget. We need to have some type of proactive plan in place so we are not sitting here waiting for the other shoe to fall.”