Elections Canceled For Water, Fire Districts

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Twenty-two political nominees from Northern Gila County won't have to wait until the Nov. 5 general election to find out how they fared. They've been handed the water- and fire-district seats they were seeking by the county's board of supervisors.

Dixie Mundy, Gila County's elections director, said that the supervisors' move last month amounts to a sensible financial strategy which will save each district from $200 to $4,000, depending on its size.

"If candidates file nominating petitions for a position on a fire board or a water improvement district board, and there is the exact same number of candidates as there are vacancies on those boards not more, not less then the board of supervisors may cancel the election and appoint, by resolution, those persons who filed a petition for those positions," Mundy said.

Since voters would be electing exactly the same people to the positions they seek, the action allows districts to save the money it takes to run an election. "And we do have to collect reimbursements from each district, so this helps the district not have to pay for an election," Mundy said. "That's the advantage of doing it this way."

According to Mundy, a smaller district may save $200 to $300, while a larger district may be able to hang onto $1,000 to $2,000 or more.

"Take the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District, for instance," she said. "It's a huge district because of the voter registration. Of course, in a water district, even property owners who don't live in the district but are registered in Arizona can vote in those water district elections. The district itself has to reach out to all of those property owners to let them know of an election."

For the Pine-Strawberry water district alone, the cost that would have had to be reimbursed to the county was $2,900, "and that did not cover the mailing they would have had to do to all of these non-resident property owners ...

"So when you're looking at a district the size of Pine-Strawberry, you could be looking at $4,000."

On the other hand, Mundy said, "if you look at a district the size of East Verde Park, where we did cancel the election, you may only be looking at $200 or $300."

The candidates appointed to seats within northern Gila County's fire districts are:

Deer Valley: Ray C. Friesen, Larry G. Martin, Herman N. Stephan.

Diamond Star: Mike C. Foree, Richard A. Pinkerton.

East Verde Park: Matalyn Gardner, Philip A. Kamesch.

Round Valley/Ox Bow Estates: Charles H. Jett, Chester R. Smith.

Whispering Pines: Thomas G. Carlson, Donald R. King, Brent S. Ruttle Sr.

The candidates appointed to seats within Northern Gila County's water improvement districts are:

Pine Creek Canyon: Richard D. Anslow, Nelson W. Armstrong Jr., Delbert L. Walch.

Pine-Strawberry: John O. Breninger, Marvin Mortensen, Mary Lou Myers.

PWA: Don J. Holt, Maurine Heisdorffer.

Solitude Trails: Roger F. Mioteo.

Strawberry Hollow: Sarah D. Peterson.

"That's who we had that canceled," Mundy said. "Everyone else is having an election." That would include entities such as the Mesa del Caballo Fire District, which so far has one candidate, Ginny Ennen, and two vacant seats on its board.

"If there are less candidates than there are positions, there must be an election," Mundy said.

"In the case of Mesa del, there weren't enough people running to allow us to cancel."

Even if a second candidate were to appear, the election would take place because the cancelation time has passed.

"We have to enter (candidate and other election) information into our computer so early so it can appear on the sample ballot, we can't just withdraw an election," she said. "Besides, it's too late to circulate petitions; you'd have to run as a write-in."

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