Population Shift Gives Rim Country Political Clout

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A primary but unwritten issue facing Gila County voters in next week's election is local control.

There are two county races for public office, and one candidate from each contest county attorney candidate James Hazel and county sheriff candidate Art Stone hails from the Rim country.

The candidates themselves have noted that there are now more voters in the northern half of the county than in the southern half, where Globe has dominated as the county seat since 1881.

Now, for the first time in county history, Rim country voters are a population force to be reckoned with, and they will go to the polls Tuesday with real political clout.

The candidates

Gila County attorney

Jerry DeRose, (D) The incumbent county attorney is a former patrol officer with the Department of Public Safety.

He has seven years experience as county attorney, which has given him the top priority of "continuing to improve upon the accomplishments the office has made during his tenure," during which he worked part time.

James Hazel, (R) A Pine resident and 10-year contract defense attorney who has worked for Gila County since 1986, Hazel's campaign has focused on the charge that DeRose has developed an overabundance of power. Hazel has also said he would devote full time to the county attorney's duties.

Gila County sheriff

Art Stone, (R) With a history of 20 years in Kansas law enforcement, which includes holding the positions of deputy sheriff, chief of police and chief investigator for the sheriff's office, Stone's top priorities are to provide residents with a "reasonable and honest budget for the services they desire with a maximum use of every dollar," and to "upgrade the professionalism of the sheriff's office by encouraging education and in-service training."

John Armer, (D) A third-generation Gila County native, he served 21 years with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

He retired in 1989 with the rank of major in charge of court services. He has served as chief of police for the City of Globe since 1995.

"My pledge is to ... mold the sheriff's office into an organization we can all be proud of, and to make Gila County a safer place to live," he has said.

Corporation commission

Six candidates are vying for two seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The following three candidates are running for a corporation slot that expires in 2007:

Marc Spitzer, (R)

Sandra Kennedy, (D)

E. Edward Zajac, (L)

The other three candidates are running for a seat that expires in 2005. They are:

Bill Mundell, (R)

Barbara Lubin, (D)

Ray Price, (L)

State representative

The two incumbent state representatives for Dist. 4, which includes Payson, both have challengers. Democrats Phil Martin and Claudia Maestas are trying to unseat incumbent Republicans Jake Flake and Debra Brimhall.

U.S. president/vice president

George W. Bush/Dick Cheney (Republican)

Al Gore/ Joseph Lieberman (Democrat)

Harry Browne/Art Olivier (Libertarian)

Pat Buchanan/Ezola Foster (Reform)

Ralph Nader/Winona LaDuke (Green)

John Hagelin/Nat Goldhaber (National Law Party/Independent Party Coalition)

U.S. Senate

Republican incumbent Jon Kyle faces challengers J. Barry Hess II, (L), and William Toel, (I).

House of Representatives

Republican incumbent J.D. Hayworth faces challengers Larry Nelson, (D), and Richard Duncan, (L).

Unopposed candidates

Gila County

The following incumbents are unopposed in their bids for re-election:

Ron Christensen, (R) Gila County Dist. 1 supervisor

Edward L. Dawson, (D) Gila County Superior Court judge, Division 1

Armida G. Bittner, (D) Gila County School superintendent

Priscilla M.L. Knuckey-Ralls Gila County treasurer

Linda Haught Ortega, (D) Gila County Recorder

Dale Hom, (D) Gila County Assessor

Payson School Board

Caron Gaskill, Eileen Daniels and incumbent Kristi Ford are running unopposed for the three vacant seats on the Payson Unified School Board.

State Senate

Incumbent Jack Brown, (D), is unopposed in his bid for the Dist. 4 Arizona Senate seat.

Hot-button propositions

Proposition 301 would, if passed, increase education funding to address Arizona's last-place national ranking in per pupil expenditures, the state's low teacher salaries, and the fact that Arizona has the fourth-highest class sizes in the nation.

Proposition 202, also known as the Citizens Growth Management Initiative, would change existing growth management statutes to require cities and counties with populations of more than 2,500 people to develop and institute voter-approved growth management plans within two years.

Proposition 106 would create a five-member Citizen's Independent Redistricting Commission to draw legislative and congressional district boundaries instead of allowing the Arizona Legislature to do it.

Propositions at a glance

Trust land Proposition 100 would amend the Arizona Constitution to authorize that up to 3 percent of state trust land be set aside for conservation without compensation to the trust.

Constitutional changes Proposition 101 would change several sections of the Arizona Constitution to match voting provisions to federal guidelines and existing state practice and to change references to people with disabilities.

Wildlife initiatives Proposition 102 would amend the Constitution to require a two-thirds vote, not just a majority, before an initiative on hunting or fishing could take effect.

Corporation commission Proposition 103 would amend the Constitution to give the Corporation Commission five members instead of three, change terms of office to four years from six and allow commissioners to serve up to two terms.

Property taxes (seniors) Proposition 104 would amend the Constitution to enable low-income seniors to have the property tax values of their primary homes frozen.

Property taxes (cemeteries) Proposition 105 would amend the Constitution to authorize the Legislature to exempt for-profit cemeteries from property taxes.

Phone deregulation Proposition 108 would amend the Constitution to let local telephone service providers set their own rates and charges in areas with competition. Also would allow the Corporation Commission to use alternative methods to set rates.

Tobacco settlement money Proposition 200 would change state law to dedicate Arizona's share of the multistate settlement with the tobacco industry to a variety of health programs.

Bilingual education Proposition 203 would change state law to require public school instruction to be conducted in English and place students not fluent in English in a one-year, intensive-English immersion program.

Tobacco settlement Proposition 204 would change state law to dedicate Arizona's share of the multistate settlement with the tobacco industry to health care for the poor.

Legislative pay Proposition 300 would raise annual salaries of legislators to $30,000 from the current $24,000. Put on the ballot by a state commission.

Look for the Roundup's special election edition Wednesday morning at select locations including Payson Town Hall, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Bashas' and the Roundup, or log on to the Roundup's Web site at payson.com, for complete election results.

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