With current Council Member John Anderson not running for reelection, Vice Mayor Michelle Cordes and Council Member Judy Hughes are looking to keep their seats on the Florence Town Council.
They face candidates Nicole Buccellato, Jose “Mo” Maldonado and Cassandra Scherm. The primary election is Aug. 2. The general election, if needed, will be held on Nov. 8.
The town council is a seven-member non-partisan body elected to serve at large, representing all residents. The mayor and council serve four-year terms and there are no term limits.
The Florence Independent sent a questionnaire to the candidates. Their answers will be published in the June and July issues of the newspaper.
Why are you running?
Nicole Buccellato, 40, is a senior diversion officer for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office. She has lived in Florence for 36 years.
“I decided to run for Town Council because I have lived in Florence most of my life. I have seen what Florence once was, now is and I would be honored to help be a factor in deciding what Florence can become. I would love to set a positive example while doing so for my children. All three of my children attend three different schools within Florence and my husband owns a business here in town as well. I am a very proactive person and would love to serve the residents of the town I call home,” Buccellato wrote.
Michelle Cordes, 49, is a Realtor and serves as vice mayor on the Florence Town Council. She has lived in Florence for eight years.
“Ensuring that Florence is a great place to retire but also the perfect place to raise a family, work, play and retire,” Cordes wrote.
Judy Hughes, 65, is retired and serves as a member of the Florence Town Council. She has lived in Florence for 10 years.
“The last four years have changed how we do everything. With the pandemic we were forced to shelter in place and many people as well as businesses were decimated. The town was not able to move forward as we had hoped to, and we went from being proactive to being reactive and just maintaining. I feel that there is much more to be accomplished and would like the opportunity to work together with the other councilmembers to move us forward,” Hughes wrote.
Jose “Mo” Maldonado, 47, is a retired U.S. Air Force veteran and currently is a maintenance technician at CoreCivic. He has lived in Florence for six years.
“I have been involved for many years advocating for our veterans in Pinal County and would like to be able to do the same for our residents of Florence,” Maldonado wrote.
Cassandra Scherm, 46, is an educator. She has lived in Florence for more than eight years.
“The three Fs are my running platform.
Married over 20 years. Lifelong member of church and faith. Strong moral values. Build relationships.
Husband a firefighter for Florence. Three children all attending Florence schools. One is a graduate from [Florence High School] 2021, attending [Central Arizona College] to complete to become a police officer and is currently working for [Pinal County Sheriff’s Office]. Second will graduate next year and join the military. Third will enter FHS next year.
Educator for Florence for over 18 years (charter, public and corrections). Joined the Florence Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in 2019. Offices: assistant events coordinator, zone captain. Currently serving as the finance chief,” Scherm wrote.
What do you think should be the town’s priorities?
“Business retention and attraction, more programs and partnerships for our youth and elderly, staying within budget to help keep tax rates low, public safety within our community and ordinance compliance to further preserve and help beautify our historic town,” Buccellato wrote.
“The town is getting ready to experience growth. We need to be mindful of that growth and how it impacts our citizens as well as the overall feel and look of the town while preserving our place in Arizona history and the historic ambiance of our town,” Cordes wrote.
“Utilizing funds in a smart and productive way that does not affect our taxpayers’ pockets. Our roads need much improvement and easier accessibility to properly keep up with the expanding growth of our town. Safety is a top priority as well with the influx of residents. Obtain sustainable emergency personnel by being competitive with other towns wages/benefits. Increase job opportunities by focusing on more blue-collar businesses/schools,” Maldonado wrote.
Providing educational, governmental, occupational and recreational opportunities for our youth.
Improve response times, promote positive police presence to deter crime.
With continued growth the opportunity to properly staff police, fire (NFPA guideline) and emergency medical responses for the safety and quality of life of the town.
Communication is key to the success and growth of a town. Create opportunities for the town to actively engage and communicate ways to improve the goals of the town,” Scherm wrote.
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