Radio Man To Run For County Supervisor

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KMOG news director Dan Haapala plans to run for Gila County supervisor next year, regardless of whether incumbent Ron Christensen seeks re-election.

"It's not against Ron in particular," Haapala said. "He may even choose to retire, but I'm going for it."

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Dan Haapala, KMOG news director and 16-year resident of the Rim country, is the first person to declare his candidacy for the District 1 county supervisor's seat.

Haapala, 55, said he is concerned about the encroachment of government at all levels.

"I look at government in general, and for years our government has just been sneaking up on us, taking a little bit more and a little bit more," he said. "It starts at the federal (level) and works its way down.

"They have this mindset that says what's good for us is good for you. I think that's wrong, and that's part of what I'm going to work at seeing if I can change."

At the county level, Haapala said he thinks it's time for new leadership.

"I've talked to the county over there so many times," he said. "(Elected officials) run in the district and it's all about Payson, and then as soon as they become a county employee, it's all about the county and we're second," he said. "That's not right."

Haapala said he believes the three county supervisors can be passionate about their individual districts and still work together for the overall good.

"It has to be Dist. 1 first," he said, "and there's two other supervisors out there who should have the exact same feelings. I believe there's ways to work together so that everybody gets what they want, but my first consideration, should I become county supervisor, has got to be this district."

A major issue that Haapala plans to make a centerpiece of his campaign is rising property taxes.

"If you look at the budget, anyone in town is going to tell you it's the same thing," he said. "It's our taxes. They're outrageous."

But he stopped short of promising a tax cut.

"I would like to say I can reduce taxes, but not until I know how the county pays for everything, and if they're spending too much then, by gosh, yes, taxes will come down. But if I can't bring the taxes down then, by golly, we're going to get a bigger piece of that pie back here."

Similarly, Haapala is taking a wait-and-see position about moving the county seat from Globe to Payson.

"When you stop and look at that issue, I don't know if we want it -- and that's my feeling right now," he said. "But if the county is so inefficient as I suspect that it is and it's not working in Globe to the benefit of the majority of the county and a shake-up is necessary, then, yes, moving it is a serious consideration."

Haapala, who has lived in the Rim country 16 years, admitted he has a lot to learn, but says learning has always been a strength.

"One of the things I've always prided myself on is being a student," he said. "That's why I do news the way I do it. When I talk about an issue I want to know all the facts first. I've done a lot of research. I've been watching the county the last four years with this particular job, and I think I can make a difference."

Haapala said he will resign his position at KMOG if elected, but will continue as news director throughout the campaign.

"I'll continue to do the news until the (election) and if somebody else (wins) I'll stick around at KMOG," he said. "I would never take advantage of this position to promote myself for the office. I just won't do it."

A registered Republican, Haapala said he plans to run an austere campaign.

"I have no campaign committee," he said. "I have no desire to raise funds. As a matter of fact, it's probably going to be the cheapest campaign ever run. When it gets here, I'm going to start knocking on doors. I'll start at the tip of the northern Gila County district and work across it."

Until now, Haapala's sole experience in politics was a run for class treasurer when he was a fifth-grader in Portland, Ore.

"I asked three of the most popular girls in school to dress up in little bunny costumes and come across the stage going, ‘Hop, hop, hop along and vote for Haapala.' It didn't work."

He said he anticipates a different outcome this time.

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