What’s your assessment of the performance of the current mayor and council during the past two years?
“We are working a lot more together than in the past administration,” Maldonado said, referencing the term of former Mayor John Doyle, whose term expired at the end of 2018. “I think it’s going good.”
He added that the council could get more accomplished if each member focused on specific projects and brought their work back to the seven-member group.
Can you give me a specific example of what’s gone well?
“We finally got accomplished – even though it’s been continuous – the IOI,” he said. “Parks, we’ve been working a lot in getting them fixed. Streets we’ve been doing a lot more, even though everything came to a halt with this COVID.”
(Note: The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality announced a settlement last month with the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission that includes provisions to clean up the International Outfall Interceptor (IOI), the cross-border pipe that carries sewage from Nogales, Sonora to the Nogales Wastewater Treatment Plant in Rio Rico. However, the City of Nogales wasn’t part of that settlement and the city’s claim that it pays too much for maintenance of the IOI remains unresolved.)
What’s your assessment of your own role in the council’s performance? What have you helped accomplish, what do you wish you had done differently?
Maldonado pointed to his work as part of a group of city officials that went to Washington, D.C. to speak with Arizona leaders about the IOI. “I think me being vice-mayor gave them a bigger mark on everybody’s mind that we were really serious about trying to get this settled,” he said.
What do you think you can do to improve that performance, and if you are elected, what are two or three issues that voters can expect to see you play an especially active role in?
He said he would be involved in creating more parks for soccer and baseball, as well as a bike lane in the city. He added that he is interested in economic development, but said progress in that area will be difficult given the “situation with the border.”
In an interview in 2016 before that year’s election, you said that if you were elected you wanted to work on the city’s budget, which you said was a problem, as well as bringing in funding for the city to build more parks and creating more programs for children with special needs. Do you think you have addressed those issues during your first term on the council?
“We’ve addressed it, we haven’t accomplished it,” Maldonado said. “Teyechea Park is one of the things that is in the process. It’s been approved. So I could say I’m only 30-40 percent there. We got the money and budgeted for all that to be done. And again with this COVID thing, I think we would’ve seen a lot more advancement.”
What ideas do you have for mitigating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the city’s residents and economy?
Maldonado said he’s most concerned about health and security and said it’s important that community members follow guidelines including wearing a face mask.
Can you point to a particular action you’ve taken as a council member or that you are working on that had or can have a significant impact during this crisis?
“I’m very close with the Community Food Bank and I’ve been able to acquire fruits and vegetables to give to them so they could give to the people in the community,” he said.
What’s your understanding of the city council’s role in a council-manager form of government?
“The council has to give direction to our city manager, and as far as going through his working agenda, the city manager has his own role. But there’s things that we have to approve and there’s things that he’s got the right to do,” Maldonado said. He added that he thinks a recent council move that would give the council some oversight of hiring processes was appropriate.
Former City Manager Eddie Johnson complained about Mayor Arturo Garino overstepping the mayor’s authority by leading public works meetings, trying to influence personnel decisions and getting involved in workplace issues in the finance department. Do you think those are appropriate actions for a mayor under a council-manager form of government and do you think the council has a responsibility to rein in a mayor or anyone else who oversteps the boundaries?
“I was not involved or present when all those things… happened between the mayor and the past city manager,” Maldonado said. “My opinion is it should be a collaboration of both working together. And the mayor should be just overseeing, I don’t think it’s something that the mayor should get involved with (hiring) and all that.”
But do you think the council has some responsibility to rein in the mayor if they’re trying to get involved in hiring decisions?
“It all depends on the (level) of the involvement,” Maldonado said, adding that he wasn’t involved in the dispute. “What was said between the mayor and the past city manager, that’s hard to judge without being there or being involved.”
What do the mayor and council need to do differently at this point to attract good city manager candidates?
“Show that we’re all a team. We all got to be in the same ballfield and play the same game. That’s the main issue with our city council, that we’ve got to be team players,” he said.
What would you say to voters who say that the city council has been dysfunctional for years and we need new faces to bring some change?
“Definitely, we need new faces, we need people that are (trying) to really do better things for the city,” he said. “You got to do it for my reason, for the heart, for the love of your own city… I think new people with new decisions or new ideas would be very good for city council.”
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or your candidacy?
“I’m here for the community,” he said. “I’ve always done it through Little League baseball, I’ve done it through the produce industry, I’ve done it through the boys and girls club. I love Nogales, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I want people to know that I’m here for them and every decision that I’ve made during my three years in council has been for the… people and the community.”