In this land of mostly Republicans, Connie Bullock is the consummate Republican.
She's the founder and first president of the Mogollon Republican Women and the chairman of the Gila County Women's Coalition. But that only begins to tell the story.
"My passion is politics," Bullock said. "Politics affects your life, so I don't know how people can be blase about it."Hers is a passion that goes way back to Richard Nixon's run for the California governorship.
"That is when I really got involved," she said. "He ran against Pat Johnson, and it was one of the dirtiest races I've ever been involved in."
Of course, she elaborated.
"We lived in little town called Hermosa Beach. We lived on the corner, and we had a huge picture window. I had it filled with Nixon (campaign materials).
"Then we started getting threats, like a brick is going to be coming through there. I told my kids, ‘Don't sit in that room until this election's over,' so we didn't."
Nixon would later run for president and win, but Bullock ultimately ranked him as her greatest disappointment.
"I never forgave him until he died," she said. "It was all so stupid. I always thought he was above that."
But it obviously wasn't enough to dampen her ardor, a reflection of deep-seated beliefs. Her parents, though, were Democrats.
"My mother was a Republican, but didn't know it," she said. "She came from the era where if you were a working class person you had to be a Democrat and a Republican was considered elite."
So what is the difference between a Republican and a Democrat, according to Bullock?
"Republicans give helping hands; Democrats give handouts," she answered without hesitation.
But while she draws a distinct line between the two parties, Bullock also sees the big picture.
"The worst thing in this country would be if we only had one party," she said. "It would be terrible, so we've got to have two parties. We'd have a dictatorship if we didn't.
Bullock and husband Don retired to the Rim country in 1995 from Paradise Valley, but most of their lives were spent in southern California where Bullock worked for Hughes Aircraft. Although she never met him, she has fond memories of Howard Hughes.
"I have nothing but amazing things to say about him," she said. "He really knew how to treat his people."
She recounted a favorite example.
"In the 50s smoking, was really a big deal. When you went there to work, you were issued your badge, and you were also issued an ashtray. That was a big deal."
She was also present when Hughes' lumbering Spruce Goose made its maiden and only flight.
"I saw it take off that day at Terminal Island," she said. "It didn't get above the water too high, but it still flew."
The move to Paradise Valley came in 1979, when Don was offered a career opportunity he couldn't refuse. It didn't take the Bullocks long to discover that they hadn't just moved to a neighboring state. They had moved to a different world.
"In California, if you tell people to come to your house at five, they'd get there at six. When we moved to Arizona, we gave an open house at five, and at quarter-to-five people were at our door."
After that bit of culture shock, the move to Payson was almost painless.
"We had neighbors in Paradise Valley who had a cabin in East Verde, so we started coming up here with them," Bullock said. "We really liked it, so we bought a lot. We figured when we retired this was it. Now those neighbors, Tom and Marion, have built a home next to ours, so after 25 years, we're next door neighbors again.
The Bullocks have settled nicely into the Payson lifestyle.
"In California, I never went to bed before Johnny Carson was over," she said. "Now I go to bed very early and I'm up very early."
Although it's their first small town experience, the Bullocks don't notice much difference.
"I don't think it's any different than a larger town," she said. "It's just that you see the same people more often. And then there's the shopping, but I go to the Valley twice a month."
Life is good for the Bullocks, but a Bush victory in November would make it even sweeter.
But not perfect, because Bullock has a confession to make. She really wishes she could vote for Sen. John McCain for President.
"He's the politician I admire most," she said. "I get angry with him and the party gets angry with him, but he's his own person and I really like that."
Name: Connie Bullock
Occupation: Retired (mostly sales electronic industry)
Employer: See above.
Age: Not telling.
Birthplace: Danville, Ill.
Family: Husband Don, sons John and Bruce (acquired upon marriage to Don), daughter Susan, granddaughters Meegan and Vonelle, great grandson Aidan.
Personal motto: Hang in there.
Inspiration: My darling mother.
Greatest feat: Surviving
Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Reading, gardening, movies, short trips (always accompanied by dog Margot).
Three words that describe me best: Persistent, loyal, vocal.
I don't want to brag ... so I won't.
Person in history I'd most like to meet: Albert Einstein
Dream vacation spot: Laguna Beach, Calif.
Why Payson? We started visiting some friends' cabin 20 years ago in East Verde, liked it, bought a lot, and built a home 10 years ago overlooking the East Verde River.