Newly elected on the municipal council ballot: Nicole Buccellato | Alexis Young
(Pinal County, AZ) – Pinal County senior diversion officer, mom, wife, and lifer Nicole Buccellato throws her hat into the city council ring. Five people are running for the three seats on Florence City Council, with a range of powers and responsibilities ranging from public safety to budgeting. Buccellato joins two other candidates – Cassandra Scherm and Jose “Mo” Maldonado – as first-time political candidates. NewsBreak sat down (virtually) with Buccellato to discuss his life in Florence, his journey to the polls and his plans if elected.
This is not Buccellato’s first role as a civil servant. For seven years of his career, Buccellato was a contractor for the Department of Corrections; now known as the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry. Buccellato worked in the sheriff’s office for 13 years and she moved to the district attorney’s office two years ago.
What does your job in the prosecutor’s office consist of?
“I’m a senior diversion officer for the Pinal County District Attorney’s Office, so that means I help give first-time offenders a second chance at life. What happens is that they are charged with a misdemeanor or a crime. I assign them either treatment, therapy, classes or something that will help them improve their situation or improve their life and right their wrongs. When they complete all the assignments I give them, whether it’s community service classes, we go ahead and clear the case against the prosecution, as if it never happened. We help keep our community safe, which I’m very proud of and it’s exactly where I wanted to be. We give people a second chance; a new life.”
Does your work experience inform your application? How?
“I’ve always wanted to be involved in some way with our city government. Owning a home here and owning a business here led me in that direction, a little more and a little earlier. We are growing a lot and I feel like I have a new perspective to offer. I have great communication skills and am a great listener. […] You have to listen to people and with all due respect, make the best uniform decisions for our region. I am proud here because this is where my children are raised.
Your Facebook page advocates youth and senior engagement, what inspires the focus on engagement among these demographics?
“It starts with our children and we also need to take care of our elderly and elderly, as they are the backbone of our communities. A lot of kids stay home or go out and get into trouble, not all of them, but some because there’s absolutely nothing to do. I was a child once, we know that. But I would love a place where you could hang out, sit on an ottoman, interact with other people, and get to know people from the outer subdivisions. There’s a disconnect right now with the kids, so when they end up going to high school together, neither of them really know each other unless they’re playing sports against each other. It is uncomfortable for many young people.
If you are elected to the Florence City Council, will your initiatives be informed by successful plans of Florence from yesteryear or original years? Is there a Pinal County era you’re looking to reboot?
“Honestly I feel like a bit of everything just 10 years ago we had businesses open a bit later we had cars along the main street driving around kids hanging around a center for teenagers. I mean, it was way longer than 10 years ago, but we had a few bars open that had music, karaoke, dancing. Even though it can sometimes be a nuisance – living in a city, drinking and driving can be a hassle – I feel like these are still necessary things. Some people just want to get out after a hard day and have a drink and unload and at 8 p.m. here our town is getting dark. They keep coming back because they have Third Fridays and they do a lot with the businesses and the historical part. But for all of Florence, we need to fill our shops. Apart from what park and recreation already provides, we need activities.
When asked why now Buccellato explained that she was doing this for her children. Local government and city engagement has always been on his list of interests. Now, between work, sports commitments, her husband’s small business and family movie nights, she’s decided to show her boys that “if you take the time and commit to it, you can do it” .