Why did you decide to run for county supervisor?
“We have problems that we need to solve and I think that my background could help us get through these challenges,” she said. “That’s why I decided to run. I got tired of hearing myself complain about problems and I really want to do something to change things.”
Federici said she’s lived in Santa Cruz County since 2008 and is a local business owner.
What are some of the specific problems you’d like to work on as supervisor?
Federici pointed to frustrated District 3 residents that want to leave Santa Cruz County, real estate tax issues, lack of transparency in government and a lack of economic development as areas she would work on.
On his campaign website and in his Facebook ads, incumbent Supervisor Bruce Bracker touts a long list of accomplishments, and says he has worked tirelessly to improve roads and parks, support public safety, promote job creation and respond to the COVID-19 crisis in Santa Cruz County. What do you think of that assessment?
“There are so many items on his list that were started so many years ago,” she said.
She said some of Bracker’s stances are common sense: “I mean, who wouldn’t advocate for repairing the IOI?” And who wouldn’t advocate for trying to resolve the tomato suspension for the produce association?”
And she asserted that her competitor is “not very results-oriented.”
District 3 is fairly expansive and includes several communities with unique needs. Starting with Eastern Santa Cruz County, what are a couple of ideas you have that would benefit constituents in that area?
Federici said the county should focus on growing tourism in the area and highlighted the growth of the wine industry over the past 25 years. She said the county should also look into additional forms of eco-tourism.
“The county doesn’t even have a tourism bureau to brag about Santa Cruz County, and we need to develop that,” she said.
The South32 mine development project in the Patagonia Mountains promises to bring jobs and economic activity, but also has major ramifications for the area’s rural way of life by way of new roads, heavy truck traffic, new UniSource transmission lines and an electrical substation in the mountains. What would your posture be as supervisor toward South32 and its plans in Santa Cruz County?
“I support all business, OK?” she said. “I don’t believe that the environment and the economy have to be at odds with each other all the time. I believe there can be a way to sort this out, but it will not happen as long as South32 is not being transparent about their activities and what they’re doing.”
Now how about the Rio Rico-Tumacacori-Tubac-Amado corridor. What would you like to accomplish for constituents in that area?
“There’s a great part of the area that I would like to improve tourism of,” she said. “We need more restaurants, more beds.”
Federici added that she wanted to improve safety in Rio Rico through better roads and low-level lighting on some Rio Rico roadways.
And she said she’ll support the produce industry: “Let’s try and remove things that are inhibiting their growth as well.”
A group of residents in Eastern Santa Cruz County has advocated for the re-drawing of the county line so that they could be part of Cochise County instead of Santa Cruz. Have you been part of that movement, or do you support it?
“I support every resident of Santa Cruz County being heard and listened to. I support all of them in feeling that they are important,” she said. “I really want to unite that group to Santa Cruz County and I want to provide them with the benefits that they believe they deserve.”
If elected supervisor, would you actively work against any effort to have part of the county redrawn into another county?
“No… I’m not going to fight people that believe that they have been violated or that their concerns are not met,” she said. “I will try to bring them back into the fold so that they know that their voice matters.”
Some people in Eastern Santa Cruz County believe that the county’s property tax rate is too high, or that their properties are assessed at too great a value. What’s your stance on those complaints?
Federici said she wants to do something to change the system that evaluates property value.
“What we need is strong legislators on our side and we need the county and these legislators to work together to change using that particular software. It does unfairly treat people,” she said.
That same software is used in all 15 counties in Arizona. Is it feasible to change it here in Santa Cruz County?
“We can either keep accepting what people say: ‘Oh, you can’t change this.’ Or we can fight to change it,” she said.
Would you seek to change the county’s tax rate?
Federici said that property tax rates have gone up in six of the past 10 years, and that’s an issue for District 3 residents.
“This is the problem I’m talking about, if we don’t get this under control now, the effects of COVID on the economy are going to create massive problems, especially for District 3,” she said.
Is there anywhere in particular in the county budget that you would look to make cuts?
“I would have to take that line item by line item,” she said.
What’s your assessment of the county’s COVID-19 response? Would you have done anything differently?
Federici said that the county should have put people at the U.S.-Mexico border to hand out information about the pandemic in Spanish and provided information at locations like Walmart.
“Mexico didn’t respond to the pandemic as quickly as the U.S. did or in the fashion that the U.S. did. They didn’t shut down anything, they didn’t require anything early on,” she said. “Had we done one small thing like print literature in Spanish and had it delivered every single day down at the border for three-to-four weeks – the first month – we could have… enlightened and educated early on,” she said.
(Note: Sonora announced a stay-at-home order on March 16, two weeks before Arizona did so on March 30.)
How would you have approached the county-wide face mask mandate?
Federici said she would have consulted people from different parts of the county, but didn’t say whether she supported the county-wide mandate.
“One size does not fit all, you have to be area-specific,” she said.
What will the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic be on the county, and what do you think will need to be done to mitigate those effects?
Federici said the county should support small businesses. And, she added: “We’re going to see foreclosures in and around Santa Cruz County. We’re going to lose houses, which means we’re going to lose revenue. When that happens, you rely on the other ones to have to pay more.”
What concrete proposals would you pursue to address those issues?
Federici pointed to a California proposal that she said would keep property valuations the same for longtime homeowners even if newcomers buy homes at high prices. “We need to put those things in place now for senior citizens. We need to do that for people that have been here,” she said.
She said the county should help small businesses access loans that will help them weather the next one to two years and, she added, the county could create tax incentives for people to start businesses in Santa Cruz County or move existing businesses to the area.
What’s your assessment of the county’s efforts at transparency and community outreach? Is it your impression that they make it easy for citizens to interact with their government, and that they make a good effort to keep their constituents informed of what they’re doing? Or do you see room for improvement?
“I don’t view them as being transparent at all and I don’t believe that they try to engage,” she said. “The (organization) chart of the county is this: Voters are at the top.”
Federici said she would consult constituents for their opinions on issues that affect them and would seek to communicate about county activities.
“Whether it’s through putting their meetings on YouTube, whether it’s putting out advance notices in the Nogales International, whether it’s putting it on radio through Maxima or other (places) where people listen and get information, we need the message out when things are happening,” she said.
Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?
“I’m a solutions-oriented person because it’s part of the business that I have been involved in for the majority of my life,” she said. “I love a challenge and I will work tirelessly with the other supervisors in bringing about results to Santa Cruz County.”
(This story has been updated to reflect that Federici said she moved to Santa Cruz County in 2008, not 2012. One sentence about her position on the mining industry was removed because an interruption in the phone call made the statement ambiguous.)