Board of Supervisors candidates split on county response to COVID-19 outbreak

With all five seats up for grabs in this year’s election, candidates for the board of Supervisors  have a range of opinions on  Pima County’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some support the calls to stay at home and close or limit businesses, while others say that citizens should be free to make their own decisions on how to best protect their health….

Republican candidate Rhonda Piña, who currently serves on the Oro Valley Town Council, said the county is working diligently with local municipalities to ensure information provided by governments to their citizens is streamlined.

“We’re trying to work collaboratively to have a united message with resources so that they can help our community as efficiently and as much as possible,” Piña said. “There’s a thing called the Emergency Operations Center and that is a way of participating in briefings where we share, receive and distribute information. In a nutshell, it’s to ensure that the same messaging is going out throughout the communities.”

Piña said local officials are taking the politics out of their decision-making process, “to some degree.” She urges every community leader to do what’s best for their citizens, and believes that collaboration will yield the best outcomes.

Another Republican candidate, Vic Williams, said the county has done a poor job of working with the business community to ensure that the economy doesn’t completely shut down.

“A lot of small business owners, which is the backbone of our job creation in this country, have just been basically put on hold and in many ways put out of business,” Williams said.

He wants to see the county and the state government create “task forces” that work to find ways to open up businesses again. Williams said there are many ways to adhere to social distancing guidelines while also allowing businesses to operate, and those options need to be explored further.

Fellow Republican candidate Bill Beard, a former staff member of current District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller, said the government should not interfere with businesses’ decision to operate or not, because a halt in the local economy will cause poverty to increase.

Beard said he understands the concerns about COVID-19, but he believes the virus is “on par with a particularly bad flu season.” As a supervisor, Beard said he would have provided guidelines for businesses to consider, but would not have mandated that they do anything in response to the coronavirus.

Beard said the longer businesses are forced to be closed, the higher the chance they will go out of business forever.

When asked about the county supervisors’ response to COVID-19, Republican candidate Steven Spain said the board has “once again given a gift to their cronies,” referencing the state and local decisions to halt some residential eviction hearings.

“They’re giving gifts to their cronies while making it much harder for everybody else to resume once things open back up,” he said.

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