Tucson Weekly Investigation Fallout: Higgins Property-Tax Story Hits Airwaves

If you read The Skinny in last week’s Tucson Weekly, you’d know that Mari Herreras broke the story that Republican Joe Higgins, who is challenging Pima County Supervisor Ann Day, was running a commercial trash-hauling business out of a home that he had listed as owner-occupied residential on the property-tax rolls. That translates into a property-tax savings of more than 50 percent and allowed him to take advantage of a special tax rebate for homeowners who aren’t renting out their homes.

We have to thank Mark Kimble of the Tucson Citizen for bringing up the story on KUAT-TV’s Arizona Illustrated last week in the debate between Day and Higgins. The mainstream media often ignores TW’s reporting, so it was great to see Kimble step up and acknowledge the importance of our investigation.

Day took advantage of the exchange to take some shots at her opponent. She also mentioned another story broken by TW and ScrambleWatch: Higgins’ failure to vote in most primaries, city elections and bond elections over the last two decades.

KUAT has been posting the debates online, so if you missed it, you can see it here.

Higgins has responded with press releases downplaying the property-tax mix-up and accusing Day of going negative.

Here’s Mari Herreras’ original piece from last week’s Skinny:

When Republican Joe Higgins first announced his campaign against Pima County Supervisor Ann Day for her District 1 seat in the upcoming Sept. 2 GOP primary, the Tucson businessman said he was inspired to run because of the rising property taxes.

Those high tax bills might explain why Higgins is running his commercial trash-hauling business out of a property that he has listed as “owner-occupied residential” with the Pima County Assessor’s Office.

In 2006, when Higgins bought the property at 1520 N. 15th Ave., along with a vacant lot next door where he parks his garbage trucks, he indicated on documents filed with the county that the house would remain owner-occupied.

That netted him a nice savings of more than 50 percent on the property-tax bill, because he was able to keep the residential tax rate and enjoy a special education tax rebate Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Joe Higgins on Growth and Conservation (And More On Property Taxes)

Republican Joe Higgins is challenging Republican District 1 Supervisor Ann Day in the Sept. 2 Republican primary.

Critics have said that you may say you favor the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, but that doesn’t mean you really believe in it. What are your thoughts on development issues facing Pima County?

Let me break a story for you today. SAHBA (Southern Arizona Home Builders Association) is endorsing Ann and they are not going to endorse me. The development community—although I respect them and understand them, I think it’s important to point out that Ann is certainly a part of that.

The conservation plan—the business community was in support of it. An editorial had said the reason people come to our community is because of the beauty behind it. So, that’s a very big factor.

Is there a need for it? I think it would be a great idea to create an overlay that can go with property tax bills to show property owners how they are paying for it. I think it’s good to Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Joe Higgins on Property Taxes

Republican Joe Higgins is challenging Republican District 1 Supervisor Ann Day in the Sept. 2 Republican primary.

Some critics have complained that your Web site is erroneous and that you have people quoted on the site as if they are endorsing your campaign. One is from Ray Carroll, who is not supporting your campaign. Do you think it’s misleading?

Those are just articles I’ve pulled that help make a case for a change in Pima County. And if you look at the board, Ray is one of those people pushing for change. Ray’s the front charge. So I read it and I put it up there.

Let’s say you do beat Ann. You’re still likely to be a minority on the board. How do you see yourself bringing change?

If you look at the A-frame sign issue, I build consensus. I’m not going to duke it out until we don’t like each other. I find a middle ground to get things done. But it is also an amazing pulpit to get your message out. Look at the problems and shed light on the problem. I think that’s what Ray Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Joe Higgins on Why He’s Challenging Pima County Supervisor Ann Day

Republican Joe Higgins is running against Republican District 1 Supervisor Ann Day in the Sept. 2 Republican primary. He talks to ScrambleWatch about why he’s in this race.

You’ve been in Tucson for more than 10 years. When do you arrive?

We moved from Wisconsin in 1976 from a small farming community. I was in second grade and went to school at Saints Peter and Paul. I’m 39 now. I graduated from high school at Salpointe and got a degree in Political Science at the UA.

There’s not a lot of jobs right out of the UA, so I started my own businesses. I moved to San Diego for a little while and then Pennsylvania. I was gone for just two years.

I got married 11 years ago and have two children, 10-year-old Halley and 6-year-old Jack. I’m really involved in their lives.

What was your first successful start in business?

First the cell phone business. Started off with a $5,000 investment and within two years we were doing $2.5 million in sales and Continue reading

Supes Candidate Joe Higgins Blows Off Voting in Primaries: “Just haven’t done it”

Republican Joe Higgins, a local businessman who hopes to unseat District 1 Supervisor Ann Day in September’s GOP primary, has himself only voted in one primary since registering in Pima County. Higgins has voted in most statewide general elections, although he sat out 1994 and 2002 entirely and never voted in any city elections when he lived inside the Tucson city limits.

Higgins says he only really started getting involved in politics a few years ago, which is why he voted in the 2006 primary.

Higgins, whose business endeavors have included a chain of barber shops and cell-phone stores, makes no excuse for not voting in the primaries. “Just haven’t stepped in, just haven’t done it,” he says.

Higgins also voted in the 2006 RTA election. But he has never voted in a county bond election, even though he’s critical of recent increases in property taxes—part of which is driven by voter-approved debt. He’s also missed out on voting in any city primary or general elections when he was registered inside the Tucson city limits between 1987 and 2004.

Asked if he had been irresponsible when he sat out the bond elections, given his concerns about rising property taxes, Higgins responds: “That’s a good question. I don’t have an answer for you there.”

Meet Your Candidates: Board of Supes

Tune into John C. Scott’s radio show between 11 a.m. and noon on Friday, June 13, for a one-hour interview with Democrat Donna Branch-Gilby, who is challenging Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson in the District 3 primary. Scott’s show airs Monday through Friday on KVOI, 690 AM.

If you want to meet a candidate in person, Republican Joe Higgins, who is challenging Supervisor Ann Day in the District 1 GOP primary, has announced a listening tour of local coffee houses. The first Cup of Joe is 7 a.m. Friday, June 13, at Kelly’s Coffee and Fudge, 3605 W. Cortaro Farms Road.

Higgins also announced support of some local business types this week, including restaurateur Bob McMahon; Elizabeth Gonzales-Gann, chair of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Dorothy Finley, owner of Finley Distributing.