New State Leaders, Congressional Jobs Give Rural Residents Stronger Voice

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A fresh breeze could be blowing favorably for rural Arizona.

The leadership in both the Arizona House and Senate is now in the hands of rural legislators. In the U.S. Congress, Arizona has three delegates on the Resources Committee, which oversees the country's public and Indian lands. It is possible a fourth delegate from the state could be assigned to that committee as well, according to a report in the Jan. 10 Arizona Republic.

Ken Bennett, of Prescott, is president of the Arizona Senate; Payson's representative Jake Flake is speaker of the house; and Jack Brown, our other state representative, is minority leader.

Our Congressman, Rick Renzi, won an appointment on the Resources Committee, on which Arizona delegates J.D. Hayworth and Jeff Flake already serve. It is possible, according to the Republic report, that freshman Congressman Raul Grijalva may be put on that committee as well.

What this means for Payson and other rural Arizona residents is access to people in power who understand and have promised to look after our interests.

This access means we perhaps have a better chance of getting our voices heard above the clamor of Maricopa County, the special interest political action committees and maybe even big money.

We can go to them individually, or we can unite and go forward with regional concerns about new water sources, better relations with the administrators of the national forests, economic development and other issues on which our future depends.

Something to remember when we approach our representatives in the Legislature and Congress: be courteous, concise and consistent.

Congratulate them on their elections and appointments. Let them know you want them to stay in touch.

Get their phone numbers, their e-mail and regular addresses in Phoenix and Washington, D.C., and, for the Congressional delegation, their home office number and addresses. Ask the names of the people who answer the phone and make a note of them. They are the gate keepers, the men and women who can see that your call gets through or your letter is seen.

We have a rare opportunity here, a chance to help our leaders direct their efforts and resources toward things that will help rural Arizona.

It goes back to that old saying about honey and vinegar ... Pour it on.

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