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Election 2024

Apache Junction council candidates explain their visions for city

Posted 5/24/24

Apache Junction residents Peter Heck, Bambi Johnson, Mehmood “Moe” Mohiuddin and Tess Nesser met the April 1 filing deadline to run for the position of council member for a four-year term …

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Election 2024

Apache Junction council candidates explain their visions for city

Posted

Apache Junction residents Peter Heck, Bambi Johnson, Mehmood “Moe” Mohiuddin and Tess Nesser met the April 1 filing deadline to run for the position of council member for a four-year term and will appear on the primary ballot.

Three council member seats (each with a four-year term) are open for election in 2024.

The 2024 primary election is Tuesday, July 30, with a voter registration deadline of July 1. The 2024 General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 5, with the voter registration deadline Oct. 7.

Register to vote at https://servicearizona.com/VoterRegistration/selectLanguage.

The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent sent questionnaires to the candidates about their plans for their next terms. In alphabetical order, they are below:

Peter Heck
Peter Heck

Name: Peter Heck

Age: 68

Education: Bachelor’s degree in biology; graduate study in health care administration.

Present or most recent business/employment: Executive director in senior living for 35 years, 11 years as the executive director of Brookdale Apache Junction. The last four years as the executive director of Las Palomas Senior Living in Mesa. Currently retired.

Previous public office, boards and commissions: The past two years serving on City Council; eight years on the Planning and Zoning Commission (three years as vice chair and two years as chair); eight years serving with the AJ Mounted Rangers (currently serving a second term as the captain); six years on the board of the Apache Junction Area Chamber of Commerce; two years on the board of the Boys and Girls Club; two years on the board of the Friends of Lost Dutchman State Park.

X, Facebook, website and/or e-mail address for constituents to learn more about you: Facebook: Peter Heck for Apache Junction City Council.

What is your vision for the community?: I want to see this city grow in a controlled fashion while maintaining the legacy of our western heritage and commitment to the equine community. I want Apache Junction to enhance its reputation as a destination for travelers and tourists who want to experience the wonders of our natural surroundings while enjoying the appeal of the western lifestyle.

What are your top three campaign issues and why?: Economic Development: I want to see the city focus on the growth of the business community. Creating a welcoming environment for new businesses will provide more options for our residents while enhancing the revenue for the city. Leveraging the recent purchase of the 10-acre parcel downtown is a dynamic opportunity for the city.

Addressing the homeless situation: I want to see the city explore a humane as well as a strategic approach to address the homeless (unsheltered) population. It is important that we identify options to address this situation as it affects residents and businesses within the city.

Water conservation: I want to see the city engage in any processes or protocols that will enhance our water-conservation efforts. I want the city to explore emerging technologies that will increase our water resources.

What makes you different from the other candidates? I have spent many years of volunteer service to the city and the organizations that support the city. These experiences enable me to understand the larger picture of the city. I feel very capable of recognizing the city’s strengths and its opportunities for improvement. My extensive amount of volunteer service demonstrates my powerful commitment to the city and its residents.

How will you make a difference on the City Council? It is exceedingly important that a member of the City Council be able to work as part of a team. My professional career and volunteer service have helped me develop the skill of listening to all sides of an issue while being prepared to stand strong when needed. As an incumbent, I will continue to exercise these skills in a proactive manner.

Name one un-funded or under-funded program or project you would promote as a member of the City Council and why: Addressing the issues related to the homeless population is an under-funded project. This is an exceedingly complex issue but one that does impact the residents and businesses of this city. This is a situation that is not going to resolve itself. I will promote the importance of creating a coordinated approach to address the homeless population.

***

Bambi Johnson
Bambi Johnson

Name: Bambi Johnson

Age: 66

Education: Associate degree in accounting and business management.

Present or most recent business/employment: Controller for Little Dealer Little Prices RV

Previous public office, boards, and commissions: Municipal Board and Industrial Board

X, Facebook, website and/or e-mail address for constituents to learn more about you: email: wzzrd2@hotmail.com Facebook: Bambi Lynn Johnson

What is your vision for the community?: I see Apache Junction becoming known as a city that while embracing their history, moves forward for the enrichment of the lives of their citizens. A thriving downtown area where people can enjoy tasty food, entertainment and the beauty of our area.

What are your top three campaign issues and why?: Simplifying city services processes for our citizens and local business owners. While new large developers have teams of people to navigate what can be a confusing and detailed path through various permits and city code conditions, the average citizen does not. I would like to have the city develop part of their team to be devoted to providing more assistance to private residents and local existing small-business owners.

Developing a true Downtown Center for shopping and entertainment. While we have a number of businesses on Apache Trail, we need to focus on the area near the Focal Point for restaurants, unique shopping and entertainment.

Our water district is making big strides in maintaining and safeguarding our water supply for the future and we need to continue to improve our water filtration process to ensure our citizens have the best water quality for years to come.

What makes you different from the other candidates? How will you make a difference on the City Council? Since moving to Apache Junction more than 25 years ago, I have embraced a lot of western culture, but my interests are truly diverse, including art, music and sports. After serving in the U.S. Army, my 40-year career in financial and operational management has spanned from land development, retail and manufacturing, and as such has given me a unique opportunity to look at issues from various viewpoints with an open mind. I view items that come before the council without any personal preformed ideas or biases and base my vote only on the information presented by both the presenter and the public input.

Name one un-funded or under-funded program or project you would promote as a member of the City Council and why: We are putting a lot of effort into improving our city while keeping our small town charm but need to do a better job of promoting our city. Apache Junction has so much to offer new businesses and better promotion will have them asking us to allow them to come here, rather than our looking for them.

***

Mehmood “Moe” Mohiuddin
Mehmood “Moe” Mohiuddin

Name: Mehmood “Moe” Mohiuddin. I am an immigrant from Pakistan and came to America back in 1989 and became a U.S. citizen in 2001. I came to this country to live the American dream that is the envy of the world.

Age: I am 63 years old.

Education: Business management degree from Queens College in New York and a masters degree in applied physics from the University of Pakistan.

Present or most recent business/employment: I am the owner and manager of the small business here in Apache Junction called the Hitching Post Saloon. This business has been built from the ground up with a lot of hard work and perseverance making it a world-known place to visit in the wonderful city of Apache Junction.

Previous public office, boards, and commissions: Serving on a board or commission should never be a qualifying prerequisite to being a city council member. Having never served on a board or commission makes me a better candidate. It allows me to serve the people of this community with a clear, “non-molded” mind and attitude.

X, Facebook, website and/or e-mail address for constituents to learn more about you: Moeforajcouncil@gmail.com is my email contact. Constituents can also reach out to me on the Hitching Post Saloon Facebook page.

What is your vision for the community?: I am running for council to help continue to grow our city in a good and positive way. We all love our open space but also yearn for a downtown destination with a western flare and feel. I want to help our downtown grow while preserving our rural open space and low-density areas. I feel having an “old” Apache Junction and a “new” Apache Junction (south of Baseline Road) is a good thing for A.J. This will help to preserve the small town feel that A.J. residents have come to love.

What are your top three campaign issues and why?: 1: Stop the rezoning of commercial properties to high-density residential. We currently have less than approximately 7% of our available land for commercial growth and yet our current zoning commissioners and council seem to keep rezoning everything that developers bring to them. That needs to stop.

2: I hear from a bunch of small businesses that it is very difficult and extremely time consuming to get permits to both build or expand. The city needs to really improve the permitting process and get out of the way for small businesses to grow, flourish or build in our city. It should not take 14 to 16 weeks to get a permit when the city website says six to eight weeks.

3: We need to continue to expand our rodeo grounds by making it a destination for all kinds of events. We are a western town horse community. This needs to be preserved and expanded. Making our rodeo grounds part of the national rodeo circuit will bring lots of tax dollars to our city. The grounds should also be improved for hosting all kinds of non-rodeo events.

What makes you different from the other candidates? How will you make a difference on the City Council? What makes me stand out and different from the other candidates is my small business ethics and way of thinking. Having come from nothing and fighting to where I am now shows that I have what it takes to serve the community of Apache Junction. I will be the people’s voice on the council. I will work for the people, not the city. I will fight for all of my constituents and listen to their needs and help them to thrive here in A.J.

Name one un-funded or under-funded program or project you would promote as a member of the City Council and why: I have a lot of needs, wants and desires for Apache Junction. From helping to expand recreational opportunities for our children to expanding the rodeo grounds for the recreational needs for our adults. As for a starting point, I would like to see us finally get a center piece of artwork for our “roundabout” at Superstition and Highway 88. That center area has sat vacant for too long and we need something there that says “this is Apache Junction.” Something that promotes our western, horse loving ways and sets us apart from others.

***

Tess Nesser
Tess Nesser

Name: Tess Nesser

Age: 75

Education:
B.A. - criminal justice. University of Central Florida, 1978; CPM - certified public manager - Executive Education Program, ASU, 1998; 200-plus hours of seminar training in management, customer service and law; Apache Junction Citizen Leadership Academy, 1998; Apache Junction Citizen Police Academy, 2000; Arizona DPS Citizen Police Academy, 2000.

Present or most recent business/employment: I am retired from the Pinal County Attorney’s Office — supervisor of the intake unit of the Child Support Division, April 1, 1986 to June 30, 2010; I work one day a week at the Goldfield Ghost Town museum, 2020 to present; I am a poll worker (judge) with the Pinal County Elections Department (for approximately 10 years).

Previous public office, boards and commissions: I am running for reelection for a second term on the Apache Junction City Council. Prior to running for AJ City Council I was involved in my community as follows:

State of Arizona: Arizona State Parks Board: Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, vice chair, 2004-11; Arizona Family Support Council, past president, vice president, secretary, 1986-2000

Pinal County: Arizona Public Safety Foundation Inc., secretary, 2007-15; Adult Probation Citizen Advisory Board, founding member, 2004-06

City of Apache Junction: Planning & Zoning Commission, chair, 2000-20; Parks & Recreation Commission, chair, 1998-2018; Library Board of Trustees, past president, vice president, secretary, 1998-2019; Police Department, Victim Services Division, crisis responder, 2003-11; Police Department, Criminal Investigations Division, volunteer, 2010-20.

Community of Apache Junction: AJ Unified School District Superintendent Advisory Council, team member, 2019; PAC: “Yes Yes Our Kids Our Community.” member, 2019; Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center, volunteer, 2016-20; Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley, Superstition Mountain Branch, 1997-present; Superstition Arts & Cultural Alliance (SACA), founding member and secretary, 2004-20; Focal Point & Tourism Committee, secretary, 2010-20; Apache Junction Arizona Centennial Committee, member, 2011-12.

Social avocations: Arizona Renaissance Festival, contract entertainer, 1999-2023; RadiOzona (old Time Radio Readers Theater), entertainer, 2005-15; National Day of the Cowboy at Goldfield Ghost Town, entertainer, 2007-09; face painter for the AJ News Community Appreciation Day, Boys & Girls Club, Chamber of Commerce, Parks & Rec., and other events for kids.

X, Facebook, website and/or e-mail address for constituents to learn more about you: Facebook: I have three Facebook pages; but, the two that I use are: Tess Nesser (this is my primary) and Tess Nesser - Apache Junction City Council. E-Mail: I can be contacted on two accounts: tessnesser@apachejunctionaz.gov and truehart4@yahoo.com. Cell & Text: 480-540-9680.

What is your vision for the community?: I said this four years ago, and I will say it again: My vision is to see AJ grow in a responsible fashion and to prosper; while retaining its unique Western atmosphere, instead of becoming a large urban community, lost amongst all the rest. I remember AJ when there was less than 10,000 residents. Alas, as time passes, there is change. Once the Valley began to fill up there was no place left but to move except toward the East Valley and AJ was discovered. We cannot stop nor prevent growth; but, we can control it to some extent by how we designate the land via zoning — which includes making changes to the original zoning by Pinal County. My vision is to do all that I can to maintain our lifestyle as a “horse friendly community” with large acreage for those who desire that; but, also provide small lots for those who do not wish to live on and maintain large lots. As a homeowner, and for the benefit of all homeowners who pay the taxes to operate the city, we need more business and industry in AJ. I hope that any large industry is kept south of the US60; but, we do need to further develop a business corridor along Old West Highway. from Idaho Road to Goldfield Road, and develop a “downtown” area where we would have a lot of boutique businesses, restaurants and entertainment that will draw interest to our community.

What are your top three campaign issues and why?:
1: Growth. No need to repeat what I just stated in my vision; but, that is probably my main issue.

2: Schooling. When I first ran for City Council I made it an issue that AJ needed a trade school as it has not been fair that our students and community members have to travel down into Mesa to go to EVIT to be trained in a skill so they can support themselves and become responsible community members. This is happening now at CAC. But, the growth to training and educating our community members needs to continue to develop further so that everyone and anyone can learn a trade, a skill, a way to support themselves. One way this can happen is if our high school stepped up and developed a trade school approach to educating our youth. College is not for everyone and with the cost of education I believe fewer and fewer will learn a life skill via a college degree.

3: Taxes. OK, I said it...the “T” word that no one wants to hear. But, the reality is that our city does not have a city property tax. The property tax you pay to Pinal County, that money goes only to Pinal County and the state of Arizona...the City of AJ receives none of it. The city of AJ operates on sales tax and the state of Arizona is doing its darnedest to take a good chunk of that away from us by food and rental taxes. If taxes eliminated then the City Council has to determine how to make up the revenue loss, or cut/eliminate city services (AJPD, library, P&R and events and other city departments).

What makes you different from the other candidates? How will you make a difference on the City Council?: When I first ran for AJ City Council in 2020 I promised to always be available to everyone in our community, whether you voted for me, did not vote for me, or even if you did not vote. And I have. I have made myself available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I freely give out my city and my personal email addresses, along with my personal cell phone number where anyone can call or text me. Over the past four years I have assisted I don’t know how many people to get answers, work done, things corrected, etc. In doing so, I hope I have helped those people and our community improve their home, their lifestyle, and their situations. As I am retired, I have the free time to give to my community. I am and always will be here for our community. I am somewhat of a “newbie” to AJ as I have only lived here 38 years; but, since I grew up in a career military lifestyle, this is my first real home and I am proud of AJ and what has been, what is, and hopefully, what will be accomplished, and I wish to be an active part of making it happen.

Name one un-funded or under-funded program or project you would promote as a member of the City Council and why: City of AJ has a Health and Human Services Commission. The duty of this commission is to determine the needs of city residents with regards to public health, the care of the elderly and persons with disabilities. Annually, the commission accepts, reviews and makes recommendations of funding requests submitted by providers to the AJ City Council. For many years the commission received requests from approximately a half-dozen nonprofit organizations (some years more, some less). The total amount requested from these organizations averages from around $130,000 to $200,000 for any given year. The amount that the city has allocated is $80K. As we grow, so do the needs of our elderly and those less fortunate, and $80,000 is being spread very thinly, to the extent that it may not be of any great benefit to some who are truly in need. I believe it is time that the city consider doubling the allocated amount.