Sheila Tobias on Donna Branch-Gilby for Pima County Supervisor


Sheila Tobias, a well-known educator and activist here in southern Arizona recently has been circulating her endorsement of Donna Branch-Gilby over incumbent Sharon Bronson in the Democratic primary for District 3 Pima County Supervisor. I thought it really well done, and worth a read for anyone trying to understand why Donna is challenging an incumbent Democrat:

Dear Friends:

A Board of Supervisors
election rarely generates the passion and excitement of a
presidential primary; or a congressional race; or even the contest
for Mayor and City Council.

But, once you think
about the power exerted by the Pima County Board of Supervisors over
everything that matters, from plugging potholes to budgeting and
managing the libraries, from juvenile detention to solid waste land
fills, from ensuring the integrity of elections to waste water
treatment, county property assessments and taxing, and approving (or
rejecting) rezoning requests for homes and business development, you
will realize, as I have come to realize: that the upcoming election
to the Board of Supervisors matters very much to all of us who live
here in the County.

The five supervisors
sometimes appear to be a permanent body. With two of the Supervisors
in their (well-paid by the way) positions
for 12 and 10 years, a third for 8 and a fourth ensconced for six, I
am supporting a challenger, Donna Branch Gilby, former Pima County
Chair of the Democratic Party, most recently Vice-Chair of the State
Party, because Donna is committed to voter integrity (see below) and
balanced growth. She’s already been endorsed by the Election
Integrity Committee of the Pima County Democratic Party.

Donna has explained to
me the arcane workings of the Board of Supervisors – which we
voters cannot alter; all we can do is to change the “cast of

Donna is running
against a Democrat in a district that includes north Tucson and
extends from the West side of Tucson to the Yuma County line and
south to the Mexico border and includes the Tohono O’odham
Nation. If you’re wondering why a Democrat would oppose another
Democrat (and two of the other Democratic Supervisors are likely to
be challenged by members of their own party this year as well), the
reason resides in yet another responsibility that the Supervisors
have, namely, determining voting modalities, and certifying

State law charges
political parties with performing oversight of the election process;
this includes monitoring the vote counting process.  When Donna
chaired the Pima County Democratic Party, she spoke numerous times on
this before the Board of Supervisors.  Her opponent in this election
was the leading obstructionist.  Even after a 3½ day trial in
December 2007, when Judge Michael Miller ruled that political party
officials could examine the databases of the 2006 elections,
Supervisor Bronson was calling for an appeal of the judge’s

With friends like these
(on voter integrity), you don’t need enemies.

About Donna:

  • Donna is a 40-year
    resident of Tucson with a Master’s in Public Administration
    from the U of A.  She taught supervisory and management skills to
    Dept of Economic Security staff for 20 years.  Was a member of

  • Served as Chair of
    the Pima County Democratic Party in 2006 and then as 1st
    Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party in 2007

  • Founder of the
    Arizona Women’s Political Caucus; served as a Director on the
    Boards of Tucson Peace Center, Planned Parenthood, Open Inn and as a
    Commissioner on the Tucson Human Relations Commission for 8 years. 

  • She lives with her
    husband Bob Gilby at Milagro Cohousing – a Community in Balance with
    Nature, which they co-founded in 2001. She is the mother of Michelle
    Williams, MD, Tucson, and Toby Branch, AIA, Denver.

priorities – including voter integrity – are ours:

  • Balanced growth –
    to ensure that the population of Pima County doesn’t exceed
    our water supplies – employing the Board’s power over

    •      zoning,

    •      building  codes,

    • impact fees,

    • determining where
      sewer lines will go

    the Board could communicate to developers that in-fill rather than
    sprawl is a Pima County priority; and make that ruling stick!

  • Transportation
    –through the budgeting process,

  • Election process –
    through funding and supervision over the County Elections Division

  • Open Decisions –
    Openly Arrived At

  • Taking more
    leadership so that the professional County Administrator (who has
    also been on the job a long time, directing policy from behind the
    scenes) implements Board policy rather than his own.

The Pima County Board
of Supervisors is required by law to hold open “Study Sessions”
at which upcoming decisions (not laws – they do not legislate)
are supposed to be publicly aired. But  for the past several years,
these “Study Sessions” have been routinely canceled.
Donna wants to bring in the kind of experienced people who invite
input, criticism, and other (better) ideas when appropriate to a
discussion or a decision.

Donna is likely to be
opposed in her bid to unseat Supervisor Bronson (in office since
1996) by the Arizona Home Builders, Realtors, and others who have
come to benefit from her long incumbency.

Once you meet Donna
Branch-Gilby, you will know that she would make the Board of
Supervisors more responsive to the views and the needs of people like

What you can do?:

  • Offer your support
    publicly, by adding your name to a list of supporters.

  • Volunteer,
    especially to do research on the impact of the Board’s
    actions/inaction on the utility service delivery boundary.

  • Make a financial
    contribution. County elections are not part of “Clean
    Elections,” so candidates must raise funds traditionally –
    by asking. The maximum allowed contribution is $390 per person each
    election cycle.  Checks to “Branch-Gilby 2008” may be
    sent to P.O. Box 85781, Tucson, AZ 85754 

  • Join me at a Meet
    the Candidate party at the home of

Bob and Joan Kaye Cauthorn

Wednesday, April 2,  5:30 – 7:30 pm

30 N Camino Espanol

One block North and East of Broadway and Country Club.


  1. Bronson made that motion because she knew which way the wind blew. She was the heart of opposition to the Democrat’s lawsuit and public transparency. She pared the cheese of that motion down to next to nothing in subsequent votes and advocacy The only reason she made the motion is because of the intense pressure activists brought to bear – and so that quislings like you could make this ahistorical and totally disingenuous argument that she is some sort of a supporter of Election Integrity. She’s not, and never has been.

  2. Shelia writes, “Even after a 3½ day trial in December 2007, when Judge Michael Miller ruled that political party officials could examine the databases of the 2006 elections, Supervisor Bronson was calling for an appeal of the judge’s ruling.”

    This is insane. Anyone who watches the BOS meetings online knows that it was actually Bronson that made the motion NOT TO APPEAL the judge’s decission.

    I read Donna’s first newsletter and she said the same thing. Why isn’t anyone correcting this in the blogs? Why isn’t anyone questioning her personal integrity. I am surprised that she and her supporters are lying about this and nobody is calling them out for it.

    Again I repeat Bronson actually made the motion NOT to appeal!!!

  3. Thanks for the info Sheila! Although we’ve had disagreements in the past, I hope Donna is successful in her bid for election.


  4. Last year Donna came all the way up to Congressional District 1 to present the “Are You the Candidate?” workshop for us. She and her co-creator did a fantastic job. You are fortunate to have this talented and dedicated woman running for office.

  5. I 100% support Donna Gilby. Nothing like a good ol’ catfight primary!

    Go Donna Go!!!!!!!!!

    Barney sends his love.

  6. It’s wonderful to see a substantive, thoughtful analysis of a candidate and the position she is running for. Terrific job, Sheila. Donna has my support. If I were in her District, she would have my vote.