Jose Cardenas: I'm José Cardenas. Thank you for joining us. After more than a decade, there is a changing of the guard in Maricopa County. Two new Maricopa County elected leaders took office this week. Long time supervisors Don Stapley and Fulton Brock have finished their terms, and returned to the private sector. Denny Barney will represent the County's district 1 in the Southeast valley, and Steve Chucri will represent east valley in district 2. Joining me is one of those two newcomers, Maricopa County supervisor Steve Chucri. Welcome to "Horizonte" and congratulations on your new position. Give us just a quick thumbnail sketch of your back ground. Then I want to talk a little bit about the campaign and your priorities for your new position.
Steve Chucri: Sure. I’m happy to. Again, thank you for having me tonight. I am actually born and raised right here in the east valley. I went to Catholic grad school growing up and I have got a long family roots in Arizona. My grandfather, Tony Corey who was actually born a year before state hood, and went to Lebanon and then came back as a young teen and started to provide for his family. And so my roots do run deep. Of my grandfather was the first licensed auto dealer in the state of Arizona. And so it's a rarity to see Arizonans that are actually born and raised right here in the valley.
Jose Cardenas: Give us also a thumbnail sketch of your district and the demographics.
Steve Chucri: Sure. It's a big district. It's about 770,000 people that we represent on the County board in each the five districts. Mine goes down and starts in the Gilbert, basically Elliott is the line of demarcation and goes north. Takes in Mesa. It goes all the way on the east side to the Pinal County borders and takes in fountain hills, Phoenix-Arcadia area, the eastern quarter of paradise valley and goes all the way up to Cave Creek and Carefree. It's a very large district but I have got to learn a lot during the campaign about exactly the nuances of each part of those cities and in every respect of that district 2.
Jose Cardenas: And you also learned a lot about politics. I know that you are no stranger to the area because you have worked in Washington and have been involved. But you have never run for election before. What made you think you wanted to do that?
Steve Chucri: You know, it was an opportunity. My day job, if you will, is presidency of the Arizona restaurant association. And when I took over the association about 10 and a half years ago, there was a lot of opportunity to grow. There was opportunity to fix a lot of the things that were broken. And to make it into the great entity it is today. And I saw the same thing with Maricopa County. It's the 4th largest County in the nation. Very few people realize that. And I saw that, I think in many ways, José, we weren't living up to the potential of that County. And the people it serves. And the acrimony, the infighting to me became the antithesis of what good government is about. So that was one of the reasons. The other reason was it seems as though we became, as government, we have become more onerous in, there's been more burdensome regulations placed on the private sector. I saw that getting to a point of beginning to stifle business. That's the last thing we need to be doing right now as this down turn that we witnessed in late 2007, that we are trying to come out of. That's the last thing we want government to do is to weigh down business. We need to prop up business and we need to make sure we can encourage and find incentives to allow businesses to grow and to hire, not create added fees and added regulations that they have to comply with.
Jose Cardenas: Your opponent in the primary was Lester Pierce, Russell Pierce's brother.
Steve Chucri: That's correct.
Jose Cardenas: Was that a factor one way or the other in your decision to run?
Steve Chucri: None whatsoever, actually. Because I challenged Mr. Stapley, no disrespect to Don. It was something that I felt for the reasons I just stated that I need to run. Owe Mr. Pierce wasn't a factor. I entered the race in September of 2011 and Mr. Pierce didn't get in until March of 2012. So it wasn't a fact inner my decision-making. I didn't, in fact, even open up an exploratory committee. I was going to get into this race. I was getting in and jump in feet first and that's exactly what we did as a campaign team and we were fortunately very successful in doing so.
Jose Cardenas: In the course of your campaign, you emphasized your conservative credentials. Even though, of course, Mr. Pierce was emphasizing his even more conservative.
Steve Chucri: Sure.
Jose Cardenas: Since your victory, you have talked about how that will guide and influence your decision-making, your priority setting as a supervisor. In what way?
Steve Chucri: Right. I think in a few different ways. From my business background, I think businesses, for the most part, can be conservative, and I certainly want to, those regulations and other things that I mentioned, I want to use a conservative approach to that. The property tax rate, that is a big deal to every resident in the County. And I want to make sure that we use a conservative approach, a deliberative approach, in making sure that we don't just have a knee-jerk reaction should we not be able to balance our budget, to go and raise the property tax rate just to answer all the questions. Or answer all the problems that we see. So that is how I see the conservative approach, I think addressing, not just your typical conservative issues, but also how it blends in and how it morphs into business issues.
Jose Cardenas: And again, you had talked about during your campaign and even earlier in your interview about ending the acrimony and I assume you are talking about acrimony between the supervisors and other branches of County government. One of the participants is still there, sheriff Arpaio. What do you see coming about in terms of that relationship?
Steve Chucri: I hope I am successful, José, in bringing about that same spirit of cooperation to the County board as bill Montgomery has brought to the County attorney's office. In fact, Bill, I asked Bill to swear me in just a few days ago because of our long-time friendship. But also I think it makes a comment, makes a statement that it is a new day. And Bill has done a marvelous job at leveling the field, at helping break down those barriers that once existed with County attorney's office, with the board of supervisors, with the sheriff's office. And I see myself doing the very same thing in working with the sheriff. In our job, I think is to make sure that the sheriff operates within his budget, that he has the proper tools in his toolbox to carry out his duties, and that's something I fully expect and will do.
Jose Cardenas: Now, we are almost out of time but I did promise we would talk about your priorities. Why don't you outline. We touched on some of them already but what else is it?
Steve Chucri: Fiscal discipline. I won't go into that but that's got to be a priority to make sure we keep our fiscal house in order. And that we don't arbitrarily continue to raise property tax rate on residents of Maricopa County. And secondly, a big issue that I campaigned on and that I am already started doing is working with our municipalities. Working with our mayors and our councils. The issues can become bigger problems. I want to work with these municipalities to make these issues, to resolve them and to not allow them to become serious problems. So that's something I am doing. I am speaking in fountain hills next week to their mayor and council. And work with every city within my district to open up those lines of communication to problems so it's not something that happened very often and it's something that I think can really bring about some positive results and making a positive difference. And then also applies to the state legislature. A lot of folks were ignored during all this time and era of infighting and finger pointing. So as much as we can do with the municipalities, I hope to take to the state legislature and work with them as well.
Jose Cardenas: Supervisor Steve Chucri, thank you for joining us.
Steve Chucri: Thank you for having me. Thank you very much.
Jose Cardenas: Congratulations on your election success.
Steve Chucri: Appreciate it.