Florence, AZ

Meet Nicole Buccellato — one of five candidates running for a Town Council seat

Alexis Young

By Alexis Young / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

(Pinal County, AZ) — Senior Diversion Officer, mom, wife and Pinal County lifer Nicole Buccellato is throwing her hat into the Town Council’s ring. There are five people running for Florence’s three city council seats complete with a breadth of powers and responsibilities ranging from public safety and 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 her life in Florence, her journey to the ballot and her plans if elected.

This isn’t Buccellato’s first role as a public servant. For seven years of her career, Buccellato was a contractor for the Department of Corrections; now known as the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry. Buccellato worked at the sheriff’s office for 13 years and she moved to the attorney’s office two years ago.

What does your work at the attorney’s office entail?

“I am a senior diversion officer for the Pinal County Attorney's Office, so what that means is I am helping give first-time offenders a second chance at life. What happens is they come on for either a misdemeanor or felony offense. I assign them either treatment, therapy, classes, or something that's going to help them better their situation or better their life and correct their wrongs. When they complete all the assignments that I’ve given them — whether it be community service classes — then we go ahead and clear the record of the charge, as if it never happened. We're helping keep our community safe, which I'm super proud of and it's exactly where I wanted to be. We're giving people a second chance; a new life.”

Does your career experience inform your candidacy? How?

“I've always wanted to be involved in some capacity with the government in our town. Owning a home here and owning a business here has led me in that direction, a little more and a little sooner. We are growing a lot and I feel like I have a fresh perspective to provide. I do have great communication skills and I am a great listener. […] You have to listen to the people and with all due respect, make the best uniform decisions for our area. I take pride here because this is where my kids are being raised.”

Your Facebook page advocates for youth and senior engagement, what inspires the emphasis for engagement amongst these demographics?

“It starts with our kids and we have to take care of our elderly and our senior citizens as well because those are the backbone of our communities. A lot of kids either stay home or kind of go out and get into a little bit of trouble, not all of them, but some of them because there's absolutely nothing to do. I was a kid once, we know. But I would love a place where you could go and hang out, sit down on a beanbag talk, 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 none of them really know each other unless they play sports against each other. It’s uncomfortable for a lot of the youth.”

Should you be elected to Florence Town Council will your initiatives be informed by successful blueprints from Florence’s yesteryears or original years? Is there a Pinal County era you’re looking to reboot?

“I honestly feel like a little bit of everything just 10 years ago we had businesses open a little bit later, we had cars up and down Main Street just cruising around, kids were at a teen center hanging out. I mean that was quite a longer than 10 years ago but we had a few open bars that would have music, karaoke, dancing. Even though those can be a nuisance sometimes —living in a town, drinking and driving can be a problem — I feel like those are still things that are needed. Some people just want to go out after a hard day and have a drink and unload and at 8 pm here, our town goes dark. They're getting back to that because they have Third Fridays and they're doing a lot of stuff with businesses and the historic part. But for all of Florence, we need our businesses filled. Outside of what the park and recreation already provide we need activities.”

When asked why now Buccellato explained that she’s doing this for her kids. Local government and town engagement have always been on her list of interests. Now in between work, sporting engagements, her husband’s small business and family movie nights she’s decided to show her boys that, “if you make time for it and you commit to it, you can do it.”

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I found an unexpected comfort and interest in journalism. From storytelling to holding the powerful accountable to the more technical parts of the job, most all of it interests me. I’m using that interest to ignite lights that will illuminate truth.

Phoenix, AZ

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