Six candidates are running for three seats on the Mesa del Caballo Fire District Board of Directors. One is running unopposed to fill one vacancy, and five are running for two additional seats.
The key issue: whether to keep the Mesa del fire department or contract with Payson for fire and medical emergency protection. Also on the ballot is an initiative to increase the fire board from three persons to five. If approved, those elected will appoint two additional people to the board.
These are the candidates in alphabetical order.
From: Southern California. Moved to Payson a little over three years ago.
Employment: Chapman Auto Center
Family: Wife, Carol, and son Jason, 26.
Qualifica-tions: "I'm a bit of a tightwad. As far as being a firefighter, I do not know fire and I don't intend to interfere. I just want to get some management going out there. Plus, I've tried to stay out of all the bickering. I think I can bring in a neutral viewpoint."
The most important issue that will face the new fire board: "To make sure that we have qualified, stable personnel."
Why voters should vote for you: "I don't know the other candidates, so I can't say why I am better or more qualified than they are. I just want to see what I can do to help. I've managed to squeak by on my own budget with not too many problems. I just want to see what we can do to stabilize the situation out there."
From: Wisconsin. Moved to Payson in May of this year.
Family: Wife, Sherry, and three adult children living in Madison, Wis.
Qualifica-tions: "I've gone to an Arizona Fire Protection Association conference, which goes into a lot of detail on the fire departments and their laws. I have been in the insurance field for 32 years, so I'm quite familiar with that aspect of it. And I've been attending the fire board meetings and trying to figure out what's going on. I've also got a good handle on what kind of condition it's in, what kind of equipment it has and what kind of safety equipment they're using."
The most important issue that will face the new fire board: "There are people in the community who would like to see the fire department done away with. I am for keeping it here."
Why voters should vote for you: "I have what I feel is an unbiased position. Everybody here is so emotional on the subject of what's going on here with the fire department, and there's been so much trouble on the board with people resigning, as well as past problems with the fire department. I feel pretty strongly that I could come in and present new ideas. I don't have the baggage of the past."
From: Omaha, Neb. Moved to Payson two and a half years ago.
Employment: Golliglee owns and, from her Payson home, operates Global Media, an L.A.-based manufacturing facility which produces DVDs, CD-Roms and audio/video cassettes.
Family: Daughter Tianna, 12, and son Tanner, 11.
Qualifications: "I have owned and operated a successful corporation for the past 13 years, which I started myself. I'm trained and certified on the fire department, and have been an active volunteer for the past two-and-a-half years . I'm very community oriented. I'm well aware of all the insurance budgets and rates, the tax rates, the assessments for property. I did a matrix and spreadsheet on all of these issues last year, so I'm versed on all of the numbers and where the funding has to go."
The most important issue that will face the new fire board: "Whether the community wants to keep the fire department operating out of Mesa del, or contract with Payson, or have Payson man the station out here. I am all for keeping it here. We've got six emergency medical technicians now, we've got 18 qualified firefighters, all at a volunteer level. Even if Payson does contract with us, they're going to charge us $109,000, plus another $20,000 as a surcharge. Our budget has dropped to $83,000, so if we do have Payson man the station, the budget would go up by about $40,000 a year.
Why voters should vote for you: "I think I'm one of the most qualified candidates, business-wise and community-wise. I researched the facts by going directly to the insurance securities office's headquarters in New York City and Atlanta; I went to Globe and got all the tax assessor's information; I researched everything."
From: Bisbee, Arizona. Moved to Payson in 1996
Employment: Manager, Pioneer Title.
Family: Wife Patricia, and sons Nick, 9, Jake, 7, and Brando, 3.
Qualifica-tions: "Ever since I got out of the military in 1990 and returned to Arizona, I've always held management positions. I think that's what the fire board needs; a good management team that's capable of managing something like a business. I believe that place has to be run just like a business."
The most important issue that will face the new fire board: "To get more of the community involved with the fire department."
Why voters should vote for you: "I'll bring a positive impact to them. I'm not looking at this as something for myself; I'm looking at this to better our community. If I could do that, then I've achieved something."
From: Iowa. Moved to Arizona in 1966 during a 22-year stint in the Air Force, and to Payson in 1992.
Family: Single; son Wayne Steffey, 38, and daughter Diana Robinson, 48.
Qualifications: "I have a fairly good background in upper and lower management in the Air Force. I think that's basically what's wrong with the fire department up here; it just requires some management."
The most important issue that will face the new fire board: "I believe that the big issue, and there's a lot of controversy over this, is whether we keep the fire department here, status quo, or whether we contract with Payson. There are a couple of options there. One is contracting with Payson and being serviced out of the Rancho station, and the other is contracting with Payson, and they would maintain and supervise the station right here in Mesa del. My position on that right now is that I think we need to work with the fire department as is. If it doesn't work out and we still have the turmoil we've had for 16 years up here, then I believe we should go ahead and contract with Payson."
Why voters should vote for you: "I really believe, with the management background I have, that I can actually do some good with the fire department. I don't hold any animosity toward anybody at the fire department, the fire chief or the board members. We just need to get in there and work together, and I really believe we can make a go of this thing. And we have to consider Wonder Valley and Freedom Acres, because they're part of our district; if we contracted with Payson, that would put them out of the five-mile radius, and their taxes would certainly go up while the response time would become a lot longer."
Distinction: The sole candidate running for the Mesa del fire board seat now held by Ed Blose.
From: Emporia, Kansas. Moved to Arizona in 1958, and to Payson in 1970.
Employment: Cashier at Foxworth-Galbraith
Family: Husband, Emmett, and sons Michael, 40, and Bill, 38.
Qualifica-tions: "I've been out here since the beginning. I was here when we first saw the need for a fire department. Back then, we found out that the clubhouse had been sold for back taxes, so we worked with a group out here to get it back. We then set property aside at the clubhouse for a fire department."
The most important issue that will face the new fire board: "No. 1 is keeping the fire department here as opposed to contracting it out to Payson. As people get older out here, there are more and more medical emergencies. Right now, the response time out here is very good, and for that reason alone, we need to keep it here. Let's face it; the Payson Fire Department is too busy now. I've been in town and seen both fire units out and when they're out, our next bet would be Star Valley, which is a long ways away."
Why voters should vote for you: "I just hope they do, if they want to see the fire department stay here. I know what goes on out here; there's a lot of ego that keeps tearing this place apart. I'd like to see a stop put to that. We need to think of what's good for the community, not what this person or that person wants."
Sample ballot error
There is a confusing error on the sample ballots for the Mesa del Caballo fire board election.
To the left of the name of Judy Thorman, the sole candidate running for the Mesa del fire board seat now held by Ed Blose, the ballot should read "Vote for one."
Also, to the left of the names of the other five candidates, the ballot should read, "Vote for two."
This mistake appears only in the sample ballot. It has been corrected on the final ballot.