Candidates Get The Last Word

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The campaign is finally winding down, and registered voters who haven't yet cast their ballots will go to the polls from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to select a new mayor and three town council members.

Winners must receive 50 percent plus one vote. Otherwise, a runoff for the top two candidates at each position will be held May 21.

Incumbent councilmember Ken Murphy is taking on Diane Sexton and Jim White in a mayoral contest that has been, at times, heated. Mayor Ray Schum is not running for re-election.

Six candidates Judy Buettner, Robert Henley, Andy Kaiser, Kenny Knapp, Dick Reese, and John Wilson are squaring off over council seats vacated by Murphy, Hoby Herron and Jim Spencer, whose terms are expiring.

The Roundup offered each candidate a final chance to convince voters he or she is the right choice. Here are their statements of 200 words or less:

MAYOR

Kenneth P. Murphy

Payson is a small town. Hard work, American principles, and a sense that every man, woman, and child contributes to the greatness of a concept called "home" still truly matters.

The mayor of Payson should at least tell the truth I have.

The person selected should have roots and relationships that extend throughout the fiber of the town, with a record of giving back more than they've taken. I am that person.

Standing up for the right things, owning up to weaknesses and overcoming the roadblocks that life gives us is what builds the character to be your mayor.

I believe I am the only candidate who closely resembles these ideals.

Payson is you and me. A community like ours is as unique as a fingerprint the hard part is taking that individuality to form a hand that works to fix the problems we all face.

My voting record and leadership experience is unmatched and my potential for future service is unlimited. I have, and will serve you, as a friend, a leader, and willing listener for your ideas, your issues and initiatives.

You have my word I will strive to be the best mayor that Payson ever elected.

Diana Sexton

Payson is entering a challenging time because its growth and resources are out of balance. People are constantly moving to Payson to experience its rural atmosphere, yet, we cannot expect our established citizens to sacrifice water for growth. We need a better and secure plan.

Payson needs a government that listens to the people and acts for the majority, not just a select few. With good leadership, this can be accomplished. I can provide this leadership. I care about you, I will listen to you, I will represent you.

I will be your voice in town government.

A native Arizonan, I have lived in the Payson area for 35 years. I attended Payson schools, I married and raised a family here, and I plan to retire here.

As a Payson business owner, I have experienced the growing pains of Payson. I understand the economy. It needs strengthened, we need more high paying jobs and lower taxes.

I have taken no money for any special interest group to run my campaign for mayor, therefore, I have no obligations. I am free to represent the majority of the people.

Vote for a change. Give me your vote on March 12.

Jim White

I believe that I deserve to be elected as mayor of Payson because I not only have the credentials and qualifications, but also the working knowledge and experience at the federal, state and local levels of government to address and achieve consensus solutions to the major challenges that face our town. I have presented a documented, proven track record with respect to my service as a public servant.

My stance on the issues discussed during this campaign is clear and I intend to take a determined, aggressive, but logically conservative approach towards addressing them. I believe I can and will effectively interface with our town staff and council to maintain and improve our quality of life, without increasing the cost to do so.

Any issue/challenge facing our town can be successfully met with the proactive, constructive input of our citizens; sound decision making based on that input; and the application of prudent fiscal management policies and procedures. I subscribe and intend to implement that philosophy.

I believe that I have the knowledge, experience and desire to represent the citizens of Payson as your mayor. I ask for your vote on March 12.

COUNCIL

Judy Buettner

I have demonstrated my leadership abilities with my tenure as past president of the Library Friends of Payson and as chairwoman of the Payson Board of Adjustments. Coupled with my previous public and community service, I am well prepared to assume the role of Payson Town councilmember.

I believe very strongly in partnerships. Working with other state, federal, regional and local organizations affords us additional technical expertise and funds to achieve our common goals.

The decisions the new mayor and council will be required to make will be very challenging. Water, growth and development, streets and roads, housing and other needs of our diverse citizenry need to be addressed.

My decisions will be based on research and analyzing of related information and constituent input. I have the experience in coalition and consensus building that will be useful as we strive to find a win-win solution to all challenges.

My extensive experience is an asset that can be utilized as a town councilmember and I look forward to representing you on the council.

Please cast one of your votes for Judy Buettner.

Robert Henley

I've attended town council, planning and zoning and other advisory board meetings over the past two years. This has given me the opportunity to better understand the major issues that impact Payson.

My undergraduate business degree is from Oklahoma State University and I have an MBA from the University of Denver.

I have 28 years experience in the high technology industry, 20 of those years in management, with extensive experience in managing people, projects and budgets.

I know we need to reduce the divisiveness in our community. I've met with many groups, business owners and individuals in our town in order to develop a dialogue with them.

The council needs to work collaboratively with citizens and business owners to develop solutions for our major challenges. I will use my leadership and management skills to work with all in our town to address our major challenges. These include effectively managing the town's finances, developing a long-term water supply, improving our streets and drainage, consistent business development policies and procedures, and ensuring our quality of life here in Payson.

Please vote for me for town council. I will be a voice for the citizens and business owners of Payson.

Andy Kaiser

Payson's citizens need to have confidence in their elected officials and town staff. The responsibility for creating this trust lies in the hands of the leadership.

With confidence, we can achieve the goals we envision, resolving issues regarding water, streets and traffic, drug abuse, managed growth, and economic development.

Working confidently together, we can improve the quality of life for all.

Payson has an important future as the hub of Northern Gila County. Payson is "home town" for about 25,000 people in Rim country. They all depend upon the town as their marketplace, and for education, vocational training, youth activities, career opportunities, health care, professional services, religious worship, culture and entertainment. Our leadership must accept these "home town" responsibilities and provide the framework for their delivery.

Payson's leaders also must forge strong, compatible working relationships and partnerships with Gila County, the Tonto Apaches, the Forest Service, the school district, the hospital, the college, the sanitary district and many state and federal government entities. To accomplish this, our leaders should encourage the participation of qualified private citizens.

There is much to be done. I ask for your vote and hope to serve the people of Payson as councilman.

Kenny Knapp

There are thousands of concerned Payson homeowners who need someone to vigorously defend them against local monied interests. Instead of giving only lip service to the issues of water and streets, as so many candidates do and have done in past years, I will fight for homeowners' rights so their water supply will not be given away and their street improvements will be paid from their tax monies, not loans that put them in debt.

Unfortunately, many business people here value citizens only for their tax dollars. Pursuing profit, these people are depleting our water supply by pushing for more and more subdivisions. And they fully intend to spend millions of taxpayers' dollars on the folly of Main Street Redevelopment.

Economic development is a legitimate government activity, but it should benefit residents, not newcomers and a few businessmen. We need to work smarter at bringing jobs to Payson for families who already live here.

This all boils down to "Needs First, Wants Second."

I have lived in Payson longer than any other council candidate and have a reputation for honesty and plain speaking. The special interests I represent are the homeowners who are ignored but expected to pay for everything.

Dick Reese

You want your councilmember to be:

Qualified to conquer the water challenge for our community;

A leader with a track record of working successfully with people of all ages, attitudes and backgrounds;

Energetic, youthful, creative, not afraid to try something different;

A listener, respectful of your concerns about safety, costs of living, our environment, employment opportunities, youth programs, traffic, growth;

A role model, a person of uncompromising integrity;

A confident, resourceful and decisive individual, qualified to help expedite the achieving of results;

A conservative who has had to work hard, earn his way, respecting our free enterprise system;

A stable individual with a family that supports his commitment of community service.

Having built a home in this area in 1978, my wife and I decided five years ago to make this our last stop in the road.

As I considered the value of the rural quality of life in Payson, the needs we face and my qualifications, I realized I must step forward and get involved. I have the qualifications listed here and pledge to serve you well.

Thank you for your faith in me and your vote.

John Wilson

As a certified public accountant, I am experienced in preparing and monitoring the budgets of numerous organizations. My experience includes resolving issues in adversarial situations and bringing opposing parties together to reach agreeable solutions. I will use these skills to help resolve issues that come before the town council.

Since moving to Payson 11 years ago, I have been involved with community service including the Town Master Plan Update Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee concerning a community recreation center, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Library Project Policy Committee, the Library Friends of Payson, Boy Scouts, Kids Voting, Golden Frontier Homeowners Association, NARFE, and many more.

I will promote the continued search for water, economic development, affordable housing and monitoring growth to preserve the quality of life that attracted us to move here.

I am fiscally conservative (Scotch) and will not vote to spend the town's money foolishly.

I have no hidden agenda, no political axe to grind. I am motivated solely to serve the best interests of Payson, with an eye to the future.

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