Meet The Council Candidates

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Payson voters will head to the polls March 9 to choose three town councilors and their candidate for mayor.

In the event any candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, they will automatically be elected into office. Those who receive less than 50 percent of the vote, will square off in the town's general election, May 18.

Both the primary and general elections will be conducted by mail-in ballot this year. The town of Payson will mail ballots to registered voters on Feb. 5. Voters will have until March 9 to return their ballots by mail or by dropping it off at town hall.

The Roundup asked candidates to give voters their ideas and concerns regarding key issues facing the Rim country. Here, in alphabetical order, are their responses.

GEORGE BARRIGER

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George Barriger

George Barriger graduated from ASU in 1957.

He served in the U.S. Navy for four years, and has lived in Arizona on and off since 1953.

He managed major domestic and international projects for General Electric Company for 30 years.

Barriger has been married to Anna Jo for 45 years. They have two sons, one daughter-in-law, one horse, one dog and two cats.

The Barrigers have enjoyed retirement in Payson for the past 11 years.

Water

The town must continue to pursue additional sources of water to assure a reliable water supply for our citizens and to support our growing community. Since most, if not all, of the water sources within the town have already been developed, new water sources will have to come from federal and private lands outside of the town limits.

Considerable effort is already occurring to identify potential well sites and to obtain drilling permits on federal lands, along with the possibility of tapping into the Blue Ridge Reservoir. These efforts, as well as other potential sources of water, should continue to be strongly supported by future council members.

Infrastructure

The infrastructure is the underlying foundation of any community. It includes streets, utilities, schools, transportation and communication systems, police and fire protection, etc. Part of the town's infrastructure is in bad shape, specifically the streets in the older part of Payson.

These are the minor arterial and collector streets that are used by Payson citizens to get from one area of town to the other, especially when highways 87 and 260 are heavily congested with weekend and holiday traffic. These are narrow, undulating, bumpy, poorly maintained, dangerous streets that are overused out of necessity by Payson citizens.

A major effort should be mounted to address this long-deferred defect in the town's infrastructure.

Growth

The pressure on Payson's growth will continue to mount as Arizona continues to grow. Last month, the Arizona Republic reported Arizona's population to be an estimated 5.65 million, an increase of 518,000 since the 2000 census. What with the longer, hotter summers in the Phoenix metropolitan area, more Valley residents will look to retire, have second homes, vacation or weekend in the high country. Regardless of how we may feel about growth, it is inevitable and we must do our best to plan for its future impact on Payson.

Jobs

Payson must continue to attract new business and industry in an effort to provide additional jobs as well as additional sources of revenue. In preparation for filling current and future job opportunities, our high school and community college should coordinate with business owners to offer educational courses designed to prepare students to fill these jobs.

Transportation (traffic, bypass)

A proposed two lane Highway 87 to Highway 260 bypass route is a part of Payson's current Land Use Plan. Such a bypass would divert through traffic and heavy trucks and, therefore, alleviate the traffic congestion. This bypass, however, would not be within the town limits and, therefore, will require ADOT funding, which is not projected for the near future.

In the meantime, a concerted effort must be made to not only improve our older streets, but to work with ADOT to improve Highway 87 and Highway 260 so as to more easily move traffic through Payson.

Main Street

The concept of Main Street and the progress to date has been good. However, if Main Street is to become a destination for visitors and, therefore, an additional source of town revenue, it needs an anchor. An attraction that will pull visitors off the Beeline and into current and future businesses. A concerted effort is needed to entice such an attraction.

Public Safety

The citizens of Payson are fortunate to have both an excellent police department and an excellent fire department. Our health and safety and, therefore our quality of life, is definitely enhanced by their professionalism. We should all feel thankful and continue our full support of their efforts. In addition to ongoing safety efforts, Payson must mount a concerted and immediate effort to mitigate the forest fire danger to our town.

Budget

The budget process is most difficult at best with all departments vying for a larger share of the pie, albeit for worthwhile programs benefiting the town. Considering the poor state of our inner town streets, more monies should be budgeted for street maintenance.

What experience can you bring to the position you seek?

  • ver 30 years managing major domestic and international projects for General Electric Company.
  • bout three years on the Gila County Sheriff's Posse.
  • articipation in Payson 2020 town Hall and Focus Future meetings.
  • ore than two years on the Payson Planning and Zoning Commission.
  • ore than 45 years trying to get my wife to balance the checkbook.

Why should Payson residents vote for you?

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Tim Fruth

I have loved Arizona since first arriving in Phoenix in 1953 to attend college at Arizona State University, after being discharged from the U.S. Navy. Although I have not lived in Arizona continuously since then, I have spent 28 years of my life in this state, 11 years in Payson. To me, Payson is a special place with special people who care about their town and their neighbors. I am retired with no special agenda except to do my best to make Payson an even better place for us all to live.

TIM FRUTH

Tim Fruth was working for the Forest Service in Williams in 1980 when his father called and urged him to apply for a job teaching business at Payson High School.

Fruth got the job and has been involved in the school system ever since.

He and his wife, Carolyn, who grew up in Payson, have been married 19 years and have two girls, Caitlin, 15, and Jordyn, 9.

Water

I like the direction that the town has taken in conservation by installing water saving devices in high-use areas. Through a grant program, the town has acquired all new waterless urinals and low-water use toilets for the local schools. This is a positive step, small but positive and I hope that the town continues to work with others in replacing high water-use devices.

The town should continue to work on replacing areas of high water-use landscaping with xeriscaping projects. They have been doing this with the school district and it is effective. Conservation initiatives work and I want to build on this program. I would like to see us reward those that cut consumption through conservation. For example, if constituents replace an existing high-use washing machine with a certified low-water usage washing machine, we all win. We should be able to find some incentives to encourage users to cut water consumption.

The Blue Ridge Reservoir is very promising and we need to work with our legislators and SRP to allow us to deliver the water to our system. It is important that we continue to work with the Forest Service in developing new water sources especially the promising water sources east of Star Valley. All funding sources need to be explored so we are prepared to deliver the water to Payson residents. Gila County Government must be more involved in Northern Gila County water issues and provide some of the dollars for exploration and development of water delivery systems.

Infrastructure

Budget must be reviewed to see if money can be re-allocated to improve, repair, and maintain existing roads. We should use grant-matching funds to help in prioritizing our needs and must provide the funding on the approved projects. A priority list with the estimated costs of improvements must be developed and acted upon.

I would like to see the local library become a more integral part of our community. We have great people working in the library and a great facility. It is my goal to see the library become more family-friendly by increasing hours of operation so all citizens have opportunities in the library.

It is important that we continue to explore the development of recreational facilities that are multi-generational. It is critical that we develop funding sources to help develop new and existing facilities.

Growth

Our growth will always be limited due to available land and water. Growth must be planned and controlled. Whether one likes it or not, some growth is inevitable and necessary. Growth must be complementary to the town and not ruin our lifestyle.

Open space and proper land use is a key to any growth. To protect what we have, we need to build a defensible firebreak system around the town. This needs to be accomplished through a combined effort with the Forest Service in order to facilitate a safer environment.

Jobs

It is important that we continue to pursue smaller non-water dependent industries that are not tourism based. There are currently some opportunities in light industry and health occupations, but we need to seek those companies that do not drain natural resources.

The higher the discretionary income that families have, the more families will spend which increases our sales tax revenues. We need to seek those small companies that provide better employment opportunities for our citizens through higher wagers.

Transportation (traffic, bypass)

This involves so many different entities that we need to start the planning stage now. Traffic has increased tremendously and it is not only a transportation issue, but it has become a public safety issue.

At certain times, it is almost impossible to turn left without putting lives at risk.

I truly believe those who want to stop and spend their money will continue to do so.

The state has built and is continuing to build multilane highways that lead into Payson from the south and the east.

Once people reach Payson, they get funneled down into slow-moving congested town streets that are also used for local traffic as well as an interconnect to the highway system. This has resulted in a traffic control problem and a public safety issue.

Main Street

Can the area be viable and vibrant? Of course, and the area has improved tremendously over the past few years. Any development would be beneficial to citizens in the form of increased sales tax revenue. Private enterprise must be the leaders in any development process with limited government involvement.

Public Safety

Public Safety is one of government's basic responsibilities and something the town of Payson does very well. Our local police and fire departments have done a good job.

It is necessary to provide top-notch services in the most cost-effective manner. We must continue to add technological innovations to assure best possible service.

Public safety is central to the health and well-being of our community. Our town has a reputation as being a safe community and that is a reputation worth keeping.

Budget

The budget is, for the most part, well managed and organized. We may be able to do more within the existing framework. This will require thinking outside of the box.

Needs must be prioritized and the council needs to provide direction through sound policy decisions.

The area that we can impact the most is general fund expenditures. I will not look to micro-manage departments, but would like to see needs prioritized and then the direction given should be through policy decisions.

Our current fee structure should be reviewed and adjusted as necessary to offset costs.

What experience can you bring to the position you seek?

I have been active in the Payson Public School system as a teacher and an administrator for 20-plus years. My undergraduate degree is in general business and I recently received a Master's Degree from Northern Arizona University in the area of Educational Leadership. I have the training necessary to lead.

I have also served in a leadership role at my local church.

I have worked with Gila County Probation Department and served as the coordinator of the Teen Court program for more than 10 years. Under my leadership, the Payson Teen Court program became one of the most recognized and successful youth programs of its type.

I am an online administrator for two Christian Rock Bands: Third Day and Jeremy Camp. I am also teaching a high school class at my church.

Currently, I serve on the Parks and Recreation Board.

I am and have been part of the Payson Focus Future groups.

I have developed good, strong working relationships with the employees of the schools, town and county that will be necessary in various projects. I have worked on numerous committees over the years and have the ability to get things accomplished.

Why should Payson residents vote for you?

I have strong ties to the community. I have lived and worked in Payson for more than 20 years. My parents were active members of the community for more than 20 years. My family is actively involved in local community activities.

My children attend the local schools. I have developed strong working ties with many in the town, county, and school systems. I have developed communication skills that I believe are necessary to help restore faith and confidence in our elected officials.

I am very much a team player and will always have the interests of Payson as my priority. I love this community and truly believe that I can make a difference.

I am an innovator who is not afraid of change. I am caring and compassionate and have strong family values. I can get things done and I am not afraid to make the tough decisions. I have developed a great working relationship with the law enforcement community as we have worked together on many occasions.

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Vernon Randall

We cannot forget our young people. I think former President George Bush said it best, when explaining his reason for supporting a specific children's youth foundation. "The youth of our country only represent a fraction of our population, but they are 100 percent of our future. I can find nothing more worthy of serious investment of our time and resources than ensuring that the adults of tomorrow grow into healthy and productive citizens."

VERNON RANDALL

Vernon Randall is a native Arizonan, whose family has been in the Payson area since the late 1800s. He was raised in Mesa and Gilbert and graduated from Gilbert High School.

After high school, Randall oversaw the manufacturing area of his family's trailer manufacturing business and was partners in a concrete construction company.

He graduated form Mesa Community College with an Associates Degree in nursing and holds a current Arizona RN license.

After several years of hospital nursing, Randall joined the telephone triage department of a very large medical clinic and became nursing supervisor. He has also completed courses in real estate, economics, accounting and business law.

Randall moved to Payson in 2001 after many visits and vacations to Rim country. He is married to Wanda, and has two children, Mandy and Nickolas.

Water

Water is a commonly debated topic and somewhat passionate issue of top concern to our residents. There is no question that we have a shortage; we live in the high desert and are currently in a state of drought.

The questions to be answered are: What is the degree of this water crisis? and ... What are we going to do about it?

Up to this point, the water issue has seemingly been a "problem of convenience" varying from one moment to the next and sometimes handled with a knee-jerk response. It is neither justifiable nor fair to impose water-use limitations and restrictions upon the current citizens of Payson while continuing to approve new subdivisions and multi-unit housing developments.

Sound business practices need to be exercised in dealing with this dilemma. First, wisely assess the situation based on factual data. Next, create a reasonable and obtainable plan, developing creative solutions based on variable scenarios. And finally, stick to the plan.

Infrastructure

Our streets have been neglected far too long. Taxes are collected and budgeted, in part, to pay for our infrastructure. I believe it is short-sighted and irresponsible to take monies that should be used for street improvement to fund various unbudgeted items and pet projects and then ask the voters to approve bonds to pay for road improvements and other critical necessities originally included in the budget.

Growth

Growth is inevitable. Conversely, many residents come to Payson for the small-town atmosphere. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your stance, growth will happen and can have a positive effect on our community. But growth must be controlled contingent largely upon our water supply.

Jobs

It is difficult for a small town, especially without rail or an adjoining major interstate, to entice companies paying attractive salaries. My wife (our primary source of income) commutes daily to Scottsdale as comparable positions in Payson pay up to 50 percent less. There are, however, a number of good jobs continually available for educated and licensed individuals in field-specific positions such as nursing, law enforcement, etc.

Even with the challenges due to our remote location, I believe we should continually explore ways to attract industrial and corporate employers. Maybe the town should reconsider the limitations, conditions and restrictions currently placed upon prospective as well as existing businesses, which make it increasingly difficult to attract and retain them and the jobs they bring.

Additionally, training of unskilled workers for the kinds of jobs that are available is essential. Perhaps this is something that the chamber of commerce could and should be doing with a portion of the monies given to them annually by the town.

Transportation (traffic, bypass)

Traffic on the Beeline Highway is seemingly unbearable on the weekends, especially in the summer months. However, if we desire to revitalize Main Street and encourage vibrant businesses in town, we must think carefully about pursuing a bypass. I feel it would be beneficial for loop supporters to take a look at what happened to the once-thriving community of Holbrook once the interstate was completed, bypassing their downtown. Should a Payson bypass be constructed, existing businesses on the Beeline, Highway 260 and Main Street will inevitably suffer and die. New businesses will undoubtedly be built on or near the bypass -- outside the town limits -- depriving Payson of vital tax revenues.

I believe it would be more beneficial to repair and improve Payson side streets and educate residents on alternatives for avoiding highway traffic during peak times.

Main Street

A Main Street bustling with tourism and activity is a wonderful idea and lofty goal that I am not opposed to, if accomplished with private funds. I do not support the use of town monies including Community Development Block Grants, which can and should be spent on infrastructure, being diverted to Main Street.

A Main Street Redevelopment Corporation should be formed per the National Main Street Organization guidelines. The corporation, not the town, should pay Main Street personnel salaries and expenses.

I believe tax rebates and hefty incentives extended to new businesses and multi-unit housing developments in the Green Valley Redevelopment District are unnecessary and extremely costly, as well as unreasonably unfair to loyal and long-standing businesses outside the GVRD.

Public Safety

As a citizen and a father, public safety is of highest concern to me. I believe we have good police and fire departments and personnel and I feel safe living in this community. I would, of course, welcome any opportunities to improve upon what we have. As large amounts of money are being spent for these services, I look forward to learning if it is possible to get more bang for the buck.

Budget

Two words: Fiscal Accountability! The citizens of Payson want and deserve sound management of their tax dollars. The town budget should be developed based largely on necessities. Once approved, expenses should be made only for budgeted items. The town budget is not a slush fund. As a general rule, monies should not be moved from one department to another to fund projects not originally budgeted which can reasonably be postponed until the next fiscal budget year.

There also needs to be greater accountability of grant monies received and spent.

What experience can you bring to the position you seek?

I have served on numerous school, church and civic committees. Working in various professions, I garnered supervisory experience and business management skills. I enjoy thoroughly researching issues at hand. Rather than relying on information provided by factions with possible personal agendas and the potential of benefiting only a select few, I intend to open-mindedly gather data and information from a variety of sources which will hopefully assist me in making factual and informed decisions which will benefit the majority.

Why should Payson residents vote for you?

I am running for public office in an attempt to make a difference ... period. I believe there is a need for change in the way certain things are currently done at the town. Those changes, in my opinion, will likely come about with the election of persons with different perspectives.

As an individual with a young family on a somewhat fixed income, every decision the council makes affects me on a personal level.

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John Wilson

Sometimes it seems government leaders fail to consider the consequences of their actions and neglect to anticipate the effect the effect they will have on all of the citizens. I hope to change that.

JOHN WILSON

John Wilson was born and raised in Marengo, Ill. He went to Flagstaff to attend Arizona State College (now Northern Arizona University) in 1949 and graduated in 1953.

He and his wife, Sue, have seven children between them, 14 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

He is a CPA with a small tax practice, specializing in income tax returns for ministers of the Gospel and non-profit organizations.

Wilson retired in 1987 after a 32-year career with the IRS, which included working with a wide range of large and small businesses and mediating disputes as an appeals officer during the last eight years of his career.

Water

Water is an over-riding concern for most of our community. It is a major factor in economic development, visitor attraction, and the general well-being of the entire community. We need to continue to explore and consider all possibilities to ensure adequate water for our current population as well as anticipated growth. Cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and neighboring communities is essential to ensure adequate water for our neighbors and ourselves.

Infrastructure

We need to educate and inform the public concerning safety and commercial value of keeping community infrastructure up-to-date and gain their support.

Streets

Two bond issues for street improvements have failed, although by a small margin. Our streets should be a high priority but need to be considered along with other town needs, such as public safety, parks & recreation, water, etc. We need to utilize an existing study of traffic patterns to determine roads most used (or needed) and vital to the community, evaluate their condition, develop a maintenance and upgrade schedule and properly fund the effort.

Parks & Recreation Facilities

We need to take a good look at where we rank nationally and statewide with communities of similar demographics and determine need for expansion of the parks and recreation facilities. These facilities are important for our quality of life, both for our current residents, young and old, and to attract new quality businesses to our community.

Growth

Growth is inevitable, in my humble opinion. We have the best community in the state in which to live. It is natural that other people will want to enjoy the climate, caring community and all the other attractions that brought most of us to Payson. We need to control this growth so our public services can keep up and not change the character of our town.

Jobs

Our economy is heavily based on construction and tourism. We need to expand our economic base so that we are not overly dependent on any one job market. This means attracting new businesses to locate in the employment areas shown in our recently approved General Plan, bringing with them higher paying jobs.

Transportation (traffic, bypass)

The traffic, especially on holiday weekends and during the summer is a major problem. I would like to see an economic impact study to determine the feasibility of a bypass before forming a position on this issue.

Main Street

The Main Street Project is an economically viable program. It is needed to upgrade the businesses in this area as well as promote greater visitation to our area. The money spent here will pay dividends to the town far into the future through increased sales tax revenues.

Public Safety

This is a part of the town infrastructure discussed above. I strongly support the police and fire departments being adequately equipped and staffed. It is imperative that we look for the forest health surrounding and inside our town to prevent any disaster from another forest fire.

Budget

The town budget is a work of art. It must not only anticipate all of the known expenditures for the various departments, it must provide room for unexpected events, which would have a major impact on the budget. This includes anticipating income from various sources, over which we have no control, as well as costs, which are unanticipated. The hearings involved in building the budget are extremely important and I would encourage as much public input as possible to this process.

What experience can you bring to the position you seek?

I am a Certified Public Accountant. I have had considerable experience in budgeting, although not at the town level.

I have been a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for the past three years.

I was a member of the advisory committee to design the new Payson Public Library.

I was a member of the advisory committee to help develop the Town General Plan, which was approved at the last election.

I am a member of the action team for the Payson Focused Future II, which is developing a comprehensive economic development plan called the Focused Future Strategic Plan for Economic Development.

Why should Payson residents vote for you?

In addition to my experience as a Certified Public Accountant and my involvement in several town committees, I have also been active in charitable activities, including Boy Scouts, Arizona Interfaith Coalition on Energy, Library Friends of Payson, and Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation. I have had experience in helping resolve disputes between conflicting parties. I believe that I would be a reasonable voice on the town council in making decisions that would be for the benefit of the town as a whole.

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