Debbie Hecht: MY STORY as of 8.2018
TUCSON, AZ: 35 years
- University of Arizona and taught school for several years.
- In 1978 she became licensed to sell real estate in Arizona, specializing in selling land and apartment buildings. She was a licensed real estate broker from 1981 to 2014.
- She invested in tri-plexes and 4-plexes as she earned the money for down payments to be able to establish a dependable income. She has remodeled 11 properties and designed and built her own home. She has managed properties since 1978.
- She was Tucson Mountain Association (TMA) President (6 years) and a Board member for 2 years. During, during her tenure TMA:
- Partnered with the Trust for Public Lands to save 880 acres as Sweetwater Nature Preserve and to protect endangered species, which is now a Pima County Park.
- Helped pass the $215 million Open Space Bond that purchased Sweetwater as the first acquisition. (TMA turned out more people from the Westside to vote for the Open Space Bond than any other part of Pima County).
- Wrote the legislation to protect the peaks and ridges of the surrounding mountains and led the group to successful lobby to make the Peaks and Ridges Ordinance part of the Pima County Code.
- Led the planning of Columbus Park, a 300-acre active sports park, facilitated adding 60 acres to the park by the City of Tucson as ball fields. TMA collaborated with 18 homeowners groups to plan a 12-mile long roadway with 3 different governments, which is now being built.
- Organized political forums:
- To help elect Pima County Supervisors.
- To elect a Pima County Assessor who promised to give tax reductions for conservation easements.
- She represented TMA on the 85-member Steering Committee for 4 years that wrote the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (a multi-species habitat conservation plan) and provided direction for areas for development.
- She wrote a policy with Gail Hartmann to award property tax reductions to property owners who used conservation easements to reduce or extinguish their development rights.
- Appointed to the Board to recommend Judicial Appointments.
- Appointed to the Pima County Bond Advisory Board by Supervisor Sharon Bronson.
- Worked with Congressmen Raul Grijalva (AZ-D) on land use issues when he was a supervisor. (He was a great supporter of creating Sweetwater Nature Preserve and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan).
HAWAII- Debbie lived on the Big Island of Hawaii (Hawaii County) for 12 years from 2001 to 2013 and returns frequently to see friends and manage properties. While on the Big Island she was:
- The 2% Land Fund as Campaign Coordinator from 2005 to 2102 to pass the legislation to create the 2% Land Fund. The Land Fund was on the ballot 3 times.
- The 2% Land Fund sets aside 2% of property taxes each year for Open Space acquisition in Hawaii County.
- So far, 4,400 acres has been preserved, which as of 7.2018, the County of Hawaii 2% Land Fund has paid: $27,389,268 million of taxpayer funds, received Grants from matching funds from State Legacy Lands and the US Fish and Wildlife Agency for endangered species totaling $8.764 million, and from Private funds: $2,000,000 million
- There are 2,200 more acres at Waikapuna, Ka’u slated for acquisition this year (2018) from the 2% Land Fund, with matching funds. Waikapuna is the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources highest priority for acquisition for 2017.
- Appointed by Mayor Billy Kenoi to the Public Access, Open Space Natural Resources Commission, which considers citizen’s proposals on lands to be acquired.
- Helped to write the by-laws for the West Hawaii Unitarian Universalists and is a founding member.
- Worked as the legislative aid to Council member Brenda Ford for the Hawaii County Council and helped to research and write legislation.
- Served as a board member and secretary for 4 years with the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association (HPPA) and served on the committee to re-write the bylaws for that group. HPPA is the non-profit that runs the bookstores at the National Parks in the state of Hawaii, and makes grants with the proceeds that provide funding for interpretive staff salaries and National Parks projects.
- Worked as a member of the League of Women Voters to re-write the Initiative and Referendum Article that was approved by voters and is part of the Hawaii County Charter.
- Proposed several changes to the Hawaii County charter during the charter review in 2010 on Referendum, Recall and Transparency in Government.
- Wrote the by-laws and was the founder of the Kona Community Tennis Association in Kona.
SAN DIEGO AREA: 2013 to present
- Elected chair of the Steering Committee for the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club for 2 years from February of 2014 to January of 2016.
- Wrote the Guidelines for Aquaculture that were unanimously accepted by the 39 delegates representing all of the chapters of the Sierra Club in California and Nevada at the 2016 Sierra Club’s California Nevada Regional Conservation Committee.
- Directed the effort at the Unitarian Universalists Fellowship of San Dieguito to convert to an all-solar campus and wrote the Kitchen Guidelines to eliminate waste and reduce recycling.
- Currently proposing a water bottle ban for the City of Del Mar.
- Working with neighbors to protect Scripps Bluff Preserve near Dog Beach in Del Mar, CA.
She enjoys establishing non-profits, facilitating groups, creating mission and vision statements, facilitating public forums and debates on political issues, negotiating with groups on diverse issues to reach agreements and conservation land planning in all of the places she has lived.
Debbie Hecht grew up a block from the ocean in Deal, New Jersey, where her love of the ocean started. She enjoys reading, researching and writing. She is a swimmer, snorkeler, hiker, Master Gardener and tennis player. She lives close to the beach and is interested in water quality. She lives with her partner Jon Luft. Her son Matt Bender and wife Melanie and granddaughter Mila live in Culver City, CA.