The temperature in Oro Valley, Arizona, varies between a low of 34°F and a high of 103°F throughout the year. The city also experiences an annual precipitation of 13 inches and a snowfall of 2 inches. In Oro Valley, humidity remains comfortable throughout the summer, providing a pleasant environment for residents and visitors alike.

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Featured Citizen, April 2023

OV Hits its Stride with Mayor Winfield

When Mayor Joe Winfield first arrived in OV in 1996, there was only one stoplight.  “My wife and I used to travel outside of town to buy gasoline,” he recalls with a smile.

In his fifth year of leading the community, Mayor Winfield has helped OV consistently show up in lists of “best places in Arizona” to live, retire, raise a family, work remotely, or start a business.

A Life of Public Service

OV’s mayor served for over 35 years as a landscape architect for both the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service.  As the recreation staff officer for the Coronado National Forest, he oversaw recreation, archeology, special uses, trails, lands, and wilderness areas.

In his work for the Park Service, Mayor Winfield had the great honor of designing the 3-acre site at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta.  He collaborated directly with the late Coretta Scott King – who he says reminded him of his mother — in conceptualizing and designing the site near Reverend King’s tomb.

The mayor is an Eagle Scout and has volunteered as a leader of the Boy Scouts of America for 30 years.  Impressively, all of his six sons are also Eagle Scouts.  (The Eagle badge is the highest distinction in the Scout program, requiring up to a 6-year commitment, a major service project, and an extensive evaluation of merit and character.)

“Scouting has made a huge difference in my life,” he says.

Good Paths Make Good Neighbors

With OV’s sunny days and magnificent desert landscape, it’s appropriate that our mayor has a keen eye for how residents of all ages and abilities can partake of our outdoor resources.

Mayor Winfield says that from the day he arrived in town, he started looking at how trails, paths, and shared recreation areas could be developed for all residents.  Mayor Winfield served as vice-chair of the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and chaired the Oro Valley Trails Task Force.

In recent years, the mayor has overseen significant recent improvements, such as:

  • Naranja Park – a new playground, splashpad, skate park, bicycle pump track, multi-use fields and pickleball courts with related infrastructure (roads and parking)
  • Vistoso Trails Nature Preserve – featuring a 6.2-mile paved multi-use path
  • Community Center – investments including new pickleball courts, tennis court improvements, 36 hole golf course irrigation replacement, and planned accessibility upgrades

The mayor, who is now in his 60s, loves OV’s natural offerings as much as anyone:  a few years ago, he walked out of his front door in OV and carried out a 3-day backpacking trip along the Ridgeline Trail in Coronado National Forest.

Silicon Valley of the Southwest

One of the biggest success stories in Oro Valley is the number of biotech, aerospace, and health care businesses that have decided to set up operations here.

Roche Diagnostics, a major biotech company specializing in cancer research, now employees over 1800 people in OV.  The University of Arizona’s Center for Innovation, a bioscience incubator, opened in 2020.   Italian electronics company Leonardo is currently looking at an investment of $100 million into Innovation Park.

When asked how the town has been so successful at attracting primary employers to invest, the mayor says that what really attracts these businesses to OV is the same thing that draws all of us:  the great quality of life.

He explains that these companies place a high value on attracting and keeping the best employees.  OV is the type of safe, well-resourced town that families want to relocate to.

“I’ve recently talked to families who moved here from places like San Francisco and New York,” says Mayor Winfield.  “They look at our great schools and natural resources, and they see an ideal place to raise a family.”

Best Place to Live

OV was recently ranked the “Safest Place to Live in Arizona”.

Mayor Winfield points to the very short wait time for emergency calls to police, fire, or medical service.  OV police officers are some of the best paid in the state.  The OVPD also offers a range of supplemental programs to keep the community safe, such as

  • Dispose-A-Med program
  • Shred-A-Thon for sensitive documents
  • Digital Child Identification
  • Citizen’s Police Academy
  • Darkhouse program for out-of-town residents

OV’s schools are another big draw for families.  OV now has five high schools, all of which receive high marks.  BASIS charter school is rated one of the top 25 high schools in the U.S.

The quality of schools was a draw as far back as 1996, when Mayor Winfield was looking for a good community in which to raise his seven children.  (At that time, his oldest child was in tenth grade.  Today, he is blessed with 15 grandchildren.)  The mayor is a graduate of the University of Arizona.

Go West, Young Man

OV is a relatively new community, having been incorporated in 1974.  The growth rates over recent decades have been nothing short of extraordinary.  But now the community is easing into a plateau.

“When I’m speaking with constituents, they are often under the impression that we are rapidly growing,” says OV’s mayor.  “But our fastest growth was back in the 1990s.  Today, OV is growing at about 1% per year.  That is still significant given the size of the population, but our growth today is manageable and relatively predictable.”

OV updates its General Plan every 10 years.  Mayor Winfield served on committees of the 2006 and 2016 General Plans, and is now looking forward to working on the 2026 Plan.

The mayor explains that OV is reaching “build out” status.  This means that the majority of the town’s existing footprint is already spoken for in terms of major residential and commercial development.  In the future, the town will be considering the annexation of new land to the north, south, and west.

To the west, OV is considering annexing 880 acres of state trust land between OV and Marana.  To the north, OV could potentially annex additional state trust land.  While water and sewer services are in place for the potential western annexation, more work remains to be done to secure utilities for a potential northern expansion.  (You can read about the importance of annexation in OV here.)

Best in Show

The town has distinguished itself on many different levels under Mayor Winfield’s leadership.  The list of awards for Oro Valley speaks to all of the good work being carried out under the mayor’s watch.  It’s a long and diverse list, with distinctions including:

Toughest Part of the Job

When asked about the hardest part about his job, Mayor Winfield says that sometimes he has to make tough choices between competing interests when working with a limited town budget.  He says that he wishes he had more funds to invest in infrastructure.

This is a typically modest response from our leader, who has been widely lauded in the community for his integrity and fairness.  Having an Eagle Scout at the helm seems to be working for us. By every metric, OV is hitting its stride as one of the best towns to live anywhere in the U.S.

Stay Connected with Mayor Winfield

By Tom Ekman, J.D., M.Ed.

 

 

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