By CLARA DUPNIK and FATHER TOM TUREMAN, S.D.S.
Msgr. Jeremiah McCarthy, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Tucson, joined more than 40 religious leaders representing eight denominations at a forum earlier this year on the 2015 Pima County Bond Election.
Sponsored by the Pima County Interfaith Council and its sister organization, the Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization (PCICEO), the forum explained the seven bond propositions voters will be asked to approve at the Nov. 3 election.
Pima County Manager Chuck Huckelberry presented details on the propositions and answered questions, while County Supervisor Richard Elias explained the multi-year process of determining the 99 countywide projects included in the propositions. He also expressed pleasure that the bond proposals include a building for JobPath.
If that proposition passes, JobPath will have its own building and the money it saves will pay for a dozen additional families annually to receive workforce-training. JobPath not only helps participants move into living-wage jobs, it also helps people like Alec Moreno pursue a college education. Moreno, currently a Pima Community College student, said he plans to continue his studies at the University of Arizona and pursue an engineering degree.
He is proud of the progress he has made with JobPath’s guidance and is looking forward to being “the first member of my family to graduate from college,” he said. JobPath was created by PCIC and the Pima County business community in the late 1990s and to date has moved 1,400 participants out of poverty.
Larry Hecker, chairman of the YES on Pima County Bonds committee, explained the seven bond proposals that will be presented to voters in November. Totaling $815 million, the bond proposals include funding of about $200 million for roads as well as funds for libraries, parks, affordable housing, neighborhood reinvestment and open space. Past bonds have led to public-private funded parks at St. John’s and Sacred Heart parishes. The current bond will match private funding for the Mission San Xavier East Tower and Façade Restoration.
Hecker also answered questions raised by the pastors about what impact the resulting taxes would have on Pima County residents.
“If all seven bond proposals pass,” he said, “it will add approximately $18 per year to the tax bill on a median-priced home of $152,000.”
Randy Mayer, pastor of The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, strongly supports the bond package. His church has provided space in its buildings for the community’s food bank, but as the community grows, the food bank’s need for additional space has become critical. If the bond passes, Good Shepherd UCC has agreed to a long-term lease of land for the construction of a building specifically for the Sahuarita food bank.
“The bond gives us a chance to leave Pima County better than we found it,” Mayer said.
The bond informational event was chaired by Father Tom Tureman, pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish, and the Rev. Delle McCormick, senior pastor at Rincon Congregational UCC. In all, three rabbis, a Latter Day Saints Church leader, a Missionary Baptist pastor as well as clergy from Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran and United Church of Christ attended.
Representing the Roman Catholic community in Pima County were Father Jim Hobert, Sacred Heart; Father Gonzalo Villegas, St. Augustine Cathedral; Father Edgar Lopez, St. Cyril of Alexandria; Father Seraphim Molina, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Sister Esther Calderon of the Eucharistic Sisters and Sister Leonette Kochan of the Diocesan Pastoral Center.
Clara Dupnik is a member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish and Father Tom Tureman is pastor at Most Holy Trinity.