Why did you decide to leave the Nogales City Council to run for supervisor?
“I served as a councilman for six years, and after the six years I re-evaluated my position and I thought about how I could serve the City of Nogales more. And I think that the opportunity of running for supervisor gave me that opportunity to serve the community more,” Rojas said.
Why do you think you’d be a better option than the incumbent, Manuel Ruiz?
“I have a lot of experience, I’m well educated, I did receive a degree from Arizona State University,” he said. “I was in the community for 38 years as a teacher and coach and also as a politician and I feel that I’m very prepared for the position.
“I think that the community is ready for the change and I think I’m the right change,” he added.
Can you give a specific example of how you would continue serving the community if elected as supervisor?
“One of the things that the city was looking into was annexation,” he said. “And many of the things that we came across as we were going through the process of annexation is that a lot of the community members and citizens weren’t getting the services and the attention that they needed from the county.”
Rojas added that he thinks he can make improvements around the county, not just in District 1.
What are two or three specific goals you have for your first term in office to help the residents of District 1?
“To establish better working relationships with the city,” Rojas said.
He noted that the county and city work together on issues like the IOI sewer pipe, animal control and the library. “I think we can do (an even) better job if the relationships are well established,” he said.
District 1 has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, both in terms of infections and the economic fallout. What ideas do you have for helping the district’s constituents recover?
Rojas noted that he’s also a member of the Nogales Unified School District governing board and said: “One of the things that, again, goes back to my experience and being in the different organizations, is I can establish good relationships to continue better working relationships with the local government as well as the state government.”
You’ve talked a lot about your own experience, but can you point to something you’ll do to benefit the residents of District 1?
“The big situation right now that’s impacting us tremendously is the economics,” he said.
Rojas said he wants to create a joint position for economic development in the city and the county – something that’s been tried, unsuccessfully, various times in recent years, including during Rojas’ time in public office.
“I think that I can do that” through better relationships, he said.
How would you assess efforts by the city and county to work together on projects to benefit the community? What are some of the areas where you think the two governments could collaborate better, particularly in District 1, and how could you make that happen?
Rojas talked about his prior stint as a county supervisor and his experience on the city council and said he was more prepared than ever to serve in public office.
“I think that I’ve established myself more and I’ve learned more on how to approach people with an idea that could benefit us all,” he said.
During your recent stint on the city council, you and the other council members generally took a back seat to Mayor Arturo Garino and Councilman Marcelino Varona, Jr., who led the way in addressing issues and asking questions about city government operations. If elected to the board of supervisors, would we see more assertive leadership from you?
“Yes, I think that you would see a much more assertive attitude,” Rojas said. He said that during his “earlier years” in local politics he was more assertive, but that approach wasn’t well-received at the time, because people thought he was “moving too fast” on some issues.
The county government, with some exceptions, can be frustratingly non-transparent for those of us in the public who try to keep tabs on what they’re doing. What would you do as supervisor to change that culture?
Rojas said that, during his previous terms on the city council, he had a good relationship with the NI and regularly shared information with the media.
But what would you do to promote transparency at the county?
“I would probably have some more press time, where they would feel open to come and ask me the questions,” Rojas said. He added that he spoke on the radio regularly during the mayoral term of John Doyle, though he had stopped doing that recently.
“I agree with you,” he added. “I think that that’s one of the things that we need – is transparency. You can put me on record that I would be more transparent.”
You’re running as a Democrat, but you’ve shared on your Facebook page clips from Fox News, videos about gun rights and statements of support for the NRA. In what way does your political thinking align with that of the Democratic Party?
Rojas said that he was a lifelong Democrat, but considers himself a moderate member of the party. “I’m pretty conservative in my thinking and I think that what’s going on currently in the world, especially the Democratic Party with it going too far to the left, I do have concerns with that,” he added.
He also said that he’s a Catholic and has a pro-life stance on abortion due to his religious beliefs, as well as supporting the Second Amendment.
“We have those conflicting positions in life,” he said.
Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know about you and your candidacy?
“I think that the City of Nogales, the County of Santa Cruz, is ready for a change in District 1. I believe that I’m the right change for Santa Cruz County,” he said. “I believe that people will see a difference right from the start, so I’m looking for the support, for the community to vote me in. As their supervisor, I will represent them with honor and with respect and with a loud voice.”