Pine resident Jim Hazel plans to give Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose a run for his money this November when DeRose's position comes up for election.
Hazel, a 10-year contract defense attorney who has worked for Gila County since 1986, said that his formula for unseating DeRose is simple: "A lot of hard work and meeting a lot of people."
If that strategy works, Hazel has a shopping list of county attorney duties he said he'll be able to perform more efficiently and effectively than the incumbent.
"The people in this community have a concern that he doesn't always come to Payson and represent Payson's interests," Hazel said. "My first goal is to represent all the people of Gila County.
"Secondly, I'm going to commit full-time to the job. Right now, it's well-known that Mr. DeRose spends a great amount of time working as a police officer. I don't think you can handle the full-time job of county attorney and at the same time spend 17 weeks a year being a police officer
"I don't think that the taxpayers deserve that," Hazel said. "(We all know) first-hand that there's enough crime up here and in Globe and in other places to require a full-time county attorney."
Hazel said he decided to enter the election fray because he felt it was time for new blood.
"I can't complain about the way this county is run if I'm not willing to stand up and do something about it," he said.
In addition to his current Gila County job, Hazel serves regularly as a judge for the City of Phoenix, for which he was a prosecutor prior to his entry into private practice. Hazel is currently the only attorney in Gila County certified as a criminal law specialist -- a certification held by less than 1 percent of Arizona attorneys.
Born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Hazel has lived in Pine since September 1998 with his wife of 17 years, Barbara, and their four children.
If elected, Hazel said he also pledges to hire a professional staff which will deal with all participants of the legal system with fairness and respect; expand drug treatment programs for first-time offenders; train local police agencies to assist in prosecuting serious offenses; work with local school boards to improve safety in schools and adopt a no-tolerance policy toward weapons or violence; and prosecute individuals based on crimes committed rather than who they are or who they know.