Gila County District One County Supervisor candidate Dan Haapala claims there are four reasons he'll make a strong public servant.
They are his thorough knowledge of how government works, his personal and professional associations with state representatives, his close work with Tonto National Forest Payson Ranger District officials, and understanding of the water issues that face the county.
Regarding his knowledge of government, Haapala says he's attended hundreds of public meetings over the past four years, including the town council, county supervisors, other boards and commissions, and state and federal town halls.
The state representatives he knows include Speaker of the House Jake Flake, State Representative Bill Konopnicki and Senator Jack Brown. He also has had associations with U.S. Congressmen J.D. Hayworth and Rick Renzi as well as Senator Jon Kyl, he said.
As part of his job as news director for KMOG, Haapala says he has had to work alongside Payson District Ranger Ed Armenta and his staff.
"I know the problems of our forest, what's being done and what needs to be done," Haapala said.
Regarding water, Haapala said, "I have followed closely the issues of its supply and demand, the effects of our current drought and the frustrations and successes of exploring for more water."
Because he is a newsman, the candidate also says he knows firsthand the frustrations and difficulties of "trying to get information in a timely matter on issues that affect this district."If elected, he said, "I will make that change first."
Haapala also promises he will work to solve all county problems and "will listen and respond to your concerns."
His goal is to work "together to make Gila County the user friendly government it should be."
The fact he has never held a political office has not slowed Haapala's enthusiasm.
"I think never being in politics is a plus," he said.
He also has a firm conviction that the government belongs to the people and he plans, if elected, "to give it back to the people,"
A native of Portland, Ore., the 56-year-old Haapala says he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve while still in high school.
During the Vietnam War, he served aboard the submarine U.S.S. Tinny in operations off the coast of Vietnam.
"I transferred to Mobile Riverine Task Force in the Mekong Delta and piloted an assault support patrol boat as part of a joint Army-Navy operation," he said. "I completed my tour of duty in 1968, returned home, and was honorably discharged."
In 1969, he worked as a Scottsdale police officer while attending college under the G.I. Bill, he said.
By 1977 he hooked up with Water Resources International as a salesman.
"I was rapidly promoted to management and traveled the country for eight years hiring, training and motivating sales people," he said.
Haapala's first visit to the Rim country came in the 1970s just after his father died.
"My brother and I came up here camping and fell in love with the place," he said.
Although Haapala wanted for years to move to the Rim country, it wasn't until 1987 that he did so.
"I was in Southern Arizona and I realized my lifestyle wasn't what I wanted," he said. "So, I made the decision to move."
After arriving in Payson, Haapala admits he "struggled to make a living" until finding his niche in radio broadcasting.
Since 2000, he has been the news director at KMOG.
His duties include "researching and reporting activities of local county, state and federal government and promoting citizen activities that work for the common good," he said.