Oct. 24, 2004
Tribune Election 2004 Special Section
The November election will fill a new board that could have a dramatic effect on public health services in Maricopa County.
Thirteen people are vying for seats on the Maricopa County Special Health Care District Board, which was created when voters agreed last November to hand over the county-run health system to a special district funded by up to $40 million a year in property taxes.
The five-member board is split geographically into five districts that mirror districts represented by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Districts 1 and 2 make up the board’s East Valley seats. Bil Bruno and Billy Little are competing for District 1, which covers Chandler, Tempe and Queen Creek. Merwin Grant and Charlie Gail Hendrix are competing for District 2, which covers Scottsdale, Mesa and Gilbert.
Bruno, 56, of Chandler, is an insurance broker and health care risk manager who has been a member of the nowdisbanded volunteer advisory board for Maricopa Integrated Health District for four years. He said he wants to help put the district in a good financial situation, then pursue partnerships between the health system and other health care organizations.
Partnerships, he said, "might work out real well, but we wouldn’t give up our mission to the poor."
Grant, 60, of Mesa, is an attorney who was a member of the health system board. He was also chairman of the task force that studied and later unanimously recommended creating the special health care district approved by voters. He said he wants to help the system find funding and improve its aging hospital. "There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done," said Grant. "We need to look for a longterm fix."
Hendrix, 31, of Mesa, is a homemaker and a member of the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery. She said she wants to make the county health system financially viable again. "There’s been so much mismanagement in the past. It’s time we become a fiscally solvent organization."
Several attempts to reach Little by telephone last week were unsuccessful.
The district board, whose members will be sworn in after the election has been certified, will be responsible for the state’s largest public health system. The Maricopa Integrated Health System includes Maricopa Medical Center, the Arizona Burn Center, 10 family health centers, and three health plans. Each year, nearly 320,000 people visit the health system’s hospital and outpatient facilities.