Face off in Catalina.


     Tuesday evening a few Republican candidates spoke before the Catalina Village Council meeting. Pete Hershberger and Al Melvin squared off over the legislative district 26 senate seat. Ann Day and Joe Higgins talked about the Pima County Supervisor District 1 primary.

     Catalina is an unincorporated community north of Tucson. The area is an eclectic mix of manufactured and custom built homes. Despite recent growth the community has a rural feel. There were only about 35 people at the meeting, many of them with campaigns. There were probably not even a majority of Republicans among the crowd but it was a great opportunity to see the style and approach of each campaign. Speeches were about 10 minutes each followed by questions from the audience with both candidates at the podium.

     Al Melvin was up first and served a full platter of sizzling red meat to the granola chewing crowd. He brought up the platform and traditional Republican values and Hershberger’s record in relation to said platform. His comparison piece was handed out during his speech. He focused on his 5 points to make Arizona great: Secure Borders, Improve Education, Pro-growth Tax Structure, Nuclear Power, and Desalinization.

     Next up was Pete Hershberger. He firmly countered several of Melvin’s attacks and spoke about his experience, his record of winning house races, and his work for children. He also dragged up the favorite line from the previous Republican senator of the area, “I am a good fit for the district.” Some of Pete comments did not make much sense though. He attacked school vouchers on the grounds that they would lead to overcrowding. Sure schools may receive less money but only if the kid leaves for somewhere else. If you think alternatives to the public schools cause overcrowding you need to check what has happened to TUSD. They are having to close schools because of lack of enrollment and small class size.

     Hershberger draped himself in the Goldwater name. He failed to mention his D- grade from the Goldwater Institute. He did say that Melvin was relying on ratings from extremist groups that want guns in the schools. I was not able to find a single item in the 2007 Goldwater ratings about guns, or any other social issue for that matter. Their ratings are mostly based on private property and government regulation matters. Are we to believe that the Goldwater Institute is an extremist group just because Hershberger’s scored a D- on their report?

     There were a few questions but the candidates mostly stayed on the same issues. They were direct in their assertions but basically civil to each other.

     Next up were the supervisor candidates. Joe Higgins spoke first. He introduced himself and spelled out his call to action based on lack of leadership and bloated property taxes and budgets. He did not directly go after Day but was clearly stating the case for a change.

     Ann Day was the final speaker. Despite her crackly voice and reading from her notes style she was quite spunky. She attacked some of Higgins’ assertions and talked about all the great work she did when she first came to office 7 years ago. Few if any stories were recent. Her message of environmentalism was a perfect fit with the crowd and she event stated that (paraphrased) the “Sustainability is not just a buzz work but a state of being.” Sure is easy to drive a Prius when the taxpayers of Pima County give one to you free of charge.

     During the question and answer Higgins was careful not to attack the even more feisty Day but he continued with his theme of a need for new leadership for the district.

     The election was not moved one direction or another with so small a crowd but it was interesting to see the candidates speak in public. Hershberger will be running a more active campaign than Hellon did 2 years ago. Will it be enough to close the 2,500 vote gap the Melvin had over Hellon? We should know in the first week of September. Day also came out swinging but many of her points were from the past or simply not correct. Higgins is not basing his strategy on directly attacking Day.

     We do not know if Day will face Higgins again. The legislative 26 meetings are pretty booked up with legislative appearances from now to the primary. Melvin and Hershberger may appear again at the Clean Elections debate on July 2nd at Nanini Library. Based on Hershberger’s performance on Tuesday we expect that he will show up on the 2nd. If you want to see right vs. left don’t miss it.

     Speaking of Higgins, I spotted his newest vehicle wrap right on Oracle Road just above Magee. Talk about multiple impressions.


  1. […] We covered the Melvin vs. Hershberger match in Catalina last week. Looks like the Tucson Weekly will be showing up to this one. […]

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