Meet The Mayoral 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.

BARBARA BREWER

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Barbara Brewer

Barbara Brewer was born in Saginaw, Mich. and came to Arizona at 13, first living in Phoenix. In 1971, she moved to Payson.

She owns and operates the Swiss Beauty Connection salon in the Swiss Village Shops, and has had the shop for 15 years.

Brewer's husband, Sam, was with the Gila County Sheriff's Office and now owns and operates Brewer's Towing in Payson.

The Brewers have one daughter, Amy, who is married to Jack Lloyd.

They recently became grandparents for the first time to Amy and Jack's son, Jackson. Brewer's mother, Grace Martin, also lives in Payson.

Water

I strongly support our partnership with Gila County and with the federal government through our Congressional delegation and the Bureau of Reclamation. We need to obtain water rights from Blue Ridge Reservoir, and we also need to encourage our Congressional delegation to expedite the permitting process to allow drilling in the forests. I believe strongly in water conservation, and voted for our plan which has become a model throughout Arizona.

Infrastructure

I believe that we have a great town government staff that continues to incorporate our Corporate Strategic Plan. This plan addresses streets, drainage, public safety, parks and recreation. This plan is then linked to the town budget. Considering the continuing deterioration of our streets and the two failed bond elections to fix them, we need to carefully analyze the budget to appropriate the maximum amount to streets without jeopardizing other town services.

Growth

Growth is inevitable and the only way to manage it is through careful, thoughtful planning and zoning. We have already implemented several steps that regulate future growth. For example, by limiting the amount of water available for housing subdivisions and putting limits on hillside development.

Jobs

I recognize the need for a greater number of higher paying jobs, and will strive to identify and attract small, clean industry to Payson. Since aviation is an area that offers higher paying jobs, I initiated the purchase of the 25 acres of land south of the airport to be used for economic development. I will encourage more high-tech companies to locate here by offering our quality of life and climate.

Transportation (traffic, bypass)

Traffic has been a problem ever since I moved here in 1971 when the Beeline was two lanes. Although the state built four lanes through town, it still isn't enough to handle the volume of traffic during the summer. This is the reason we need connector roads within our town to enable our citizens to traverse without using the Beeline or Highway 260. I will need to review the feasibility and economic impact study before deciding on the bypass issue.

Main Street

I envision Main Street as a tourist destination that will take time to develop. Significant progress has been made from what it was four years ago when I initiated the program after attending the Governor's Conference on Rural Development. At that conference, I learned what other communities were doing to attract tourist dollars, and Main Street was a major component. Thanks to the efforts of the Main Street board and coordinator, it is moving in a positive direction.

Public Safety

I believe we have the finest police and fire departments of their size in the state. We need to take time to say thanks for all the hard work they do. It is our job to assure our citizens that they can feel secure in their community. I am dedicated to providing sufficient resources to our fire and police departments.

Budget

My hat is off to Glenn Smith, our chief financial officer, and his staff for earning the "CAFRA" -- a very prestigious accounting award -- for our town every year since Glenn has been here.

The town has a very tight budget, and I will strive to reduce spending within each department. Staff has been directed more than once to reduce their budget requests, and they have done so to help us balance the budget. It will be another tight year, but I believe that we will adopt a budget without raising your taxes, while continuing to meet the needs of our community.

What experience can you bring to the position you seek?

I am bringing to you eight years of dedication and experience in town government. My offer is to listen with compassion, to meet your needs with understanding and perseverance. I have experience in working with our legislators in passing necessary legislation to benefit our town.

Why should Payson residents vote for you?

I have a strong desire to continue to serve you. I am dedicated and care very much about Payson. I am proud of what I have accomplished for our community.

To list a few of my accomplishments:

  • Pursued the State of Arizona to take responsibility for the ground water contamination and cleanup thereby adding an extra 350 gallons of water per minute back into our system.
  • I was instrumental in the Arizona State Land Department releasing the 25 acres from its trust lands to the town of Payson for economic development at the airport.
  • Initiated the "Clean It or Lien It" ordinance as part of the Payson Beautification Program along with the "Adopt a Street" program.
  • Initiated changing Arizona State law regarding property easements.
  • Lobbied the State of Arizona for our Community College, and was successful by obtaining $1 million two years in succession for our College. This was unheard of in our state at that time.
  • Met with the Game and Fish Department to obtain permits to put White Amur fish in our Green Valley Lakes for algae control. We are awaiting final approval.
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    Jim Chase

JIM CHASE

Jim Chase and his family moved to Payson 24 years ago.

He has two sons, Eric, who lives in Scottsdale and Sean, who lives in Olympia, Wash. Each son has one child.

Chase has 18 years of experience as a police officer, serving 16 years in New Hampshire and two with the Payson Police Department.

Chase has also had many years working as a general contractor.

Water

I don't look at this as a problem, but as a challenge. After talking to the town's geologist-hydrologist, Mike Ploughe, I feel pretty confident that we will overcome this challenge through continued analysis, research, governmental and community cooperation.

Infrastructure

The issue of streets must be addressed with a positive attitude. The costs could be substantial, but I believe that it can be accomplished by either a bond issue with a definite ending point (sunset clause), or perhaps repairing the least expensive streets and working down from there. The second method would give us more bang for the buck at this time when money is scarce.

Growth

This is essential for a healthy Payson economy. However, growth must be encouraged and controlled through such processes as zoning, etc.

Jobs

With growth comes jobs and opportunity. I suggest that we start a business mentor/apprentice, or trade program for our youth. This would better prepare them for their, and our, futures after leaving high school.

Transportation (traffic, bypass)

I feel that a bypass will have both a negative and positive effect on the town of Payson. The positive effect would be the substantial reduction of traffic, subsequently less wear and maintenance on our existing road system. The negative effect would reduce sales tax revenues by allowing tourists and travelers to bypass the town of Payson.

Main Street

The Main Street Expansion Project does have merit, but my concern in "Where will the financing for this project come from?" The little park across from the OxBow Saloon cost the taxpayers more than $150,000. I think that this amount of money could have been better spent in other areas. I also believe that private business should have the burden of this project's cost for the simple reason those businesses will be the one's to benefit.

Public Safety

The past few years have shown us just how vulnerable our town is to forest fires. This is a potentially dangerous situation -- sleeping tiger. This fire hazard problem has to be addressed, perhaps utilizing a fire break around the town or engaging in other possible fire protection solutions.

Budget

It is my opinion that historically there is fat in all budgets. Much of this could possibly be trimmed and the monies saved be put to use for other worthwhile projects that will benefit the public and the town of Payson's roads or water problem solutions, etc.

What experience can you bring to the position you seek?

I was on the town council from 1988 through 1996. In that time period, I was instrumental in the creation of the following:

  • A 911 emergency phone system was established and implemented;
  • The Green Valley Lake Project was developed, and installed;
  • For driver's safety reasons, a guardrail was installed on Airport Road;
  • A water line to Country Club Vista for fire protection.

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Kenneth Murphy

These are just a few of the tasks that I was involved in, and followed through completion. This demonstrated that a cohesive council can effectively accomplish challenging tasks when we all work together.

Why should Payson residents vote for you?

I bring experience to the office with integrity and common sense and a strong desire to create an environment for our citizens where they feel safe and are proud to live in Payson.

KENNETH P. MURPHY

Ken Murphy has made his home in Payson for 19 years. He is employed as administrator of Advanced Cardiac Specialists of Payson.

His wife, Julie, is the marketing and admissions director at Manzanita Manor. The couple were married in September.

Murphy has two children and is stepfather to Julie's son. His mother, Patricia Harley, also lives in Payson.

He has been in health care management for 19 years, is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard and worked as a nurse and served as a firefighter with the Payson Fire Department.

Water

Payson has an adequate water supply for our current needs. When the Safe Yield was calculated several years ago, the final number was reduced by 20 percent. That number was reduced another 20 percent to come up with a Safe Yield of approximately 1,800 acre feet of water per year. This method left us with uncounted reserves, theoretically. The council has used the existing Safe Yield number for planning purposes and stated that growth would be limited by safe yield able to support it.

Water exploration continues. The town continues to talk with private landowners, applications to the Forest Service are pending for test wells, and the Bureau of Reclamation Study has started. Much progress has been made in negotiating for an allocation from the Blue Ridge Reservoir. However, for those of us accustomed to ground water, surface water is no cheap or easy solution -- this project is estimated to cost $30 million -- there is a cost to purchase the water, transport it, store it, then treat it before it goes to your home.

Infrastructure

Miles of streets are in poor repair with weed-filled drainage ditches. They have been neglected because the town has used its limited resources for other things. In addition the General Fund budget (the portion that provides us basic services) has increased. This leaves less money each year to carry forward for major capital projects like streets.

Many believe (that the library and parks and recreation services) are wants not needs. I disagree. I believe that these programs are good for our kids, good for families and ultimately good for all of us. I would rather see our youth engaged in these activities (and more) than just hanging out waiting for trouble. More work can be done in cooperation with the schools and civic organizations to expand and enhance after-school and summer programs. We need more diverse opportunities, additional fields, and a covered swimming pool in the winter.

Growth

This is not a need or a want, it is simply something that started when the Mayflower arrived. However, since we implemented the 20-unit rule, we have only added approximately 200 new platted homes over the past five years. The bulk of new home starts are from subdivisions that were approved before 1998 and are in their final phases of completion.

Jobs

The private sector has been creating jobs. The Mazatzal Casino employs more than 350 people. Their long-range plan will offer many new jobs. They are a sovereign nation and do not answer to the town of Payson. However, cooperation between us is excellent and their financial contributions to the town and schools have been exemplary.

The Doorstop is now open and will employ up to 60 people when in full operation. In addition, they will stimulate the outgrowth of other new businesses further creating jobs.

Job creation, business relocation, and business expansion don't happen quickly. And unlike past years, the Arizona Department of Commerce is focusing a great deal of effort into the rural areas for business development and relocation, that will hopefully result in additional job creation.

Building and fire codes and enforcement need to be flexible to allow existing and new businesses to survive, while still maintaining safety.

Transportation (traffic, bypass)

Traffic on summer weekends is horrendous. However, I believe that there are solutions for moving traffic through town on Fridays and Sundays that have not been attempted. For example: Better signage, flashing yellow lights during peak times, traffic control and directional equipment, police directing traffic, etc.

I don't have all the answers, but ADOT controls the road. Until a bypass road is completed a better job must be done to move traffic through town.

We also need to extend small orphan roads so that they connect to other connectors. This would improve the alternative routes, thus diminishing the need to go onto the state highways.

If we started today, a bypass road would not be completed for 10 to 15 years. I believe it will hurt town businesses and will ultimately lead to the decay of the businesses that currently enjoy state route frontage.

And after the bypass is done, we will be asked to fund the "Beeline Redevelopment Program".

Main Street

This is a need for Payson. However, government cannot be the bankroll for it. Government's role in Main Street is in assisting with infrastructure improvements for drainage, parking, and recreational areas. The Main Street Coordinator position should transition to private funding as soon as possible.

The private sector has already made huge financial investments into this area. Driving down Main Street this Christmas season was a joy with the building improvements and lighting.

Public Safety

There will never be enough money to keep our citizens 100-percent safe from anything. Crime in Payson is low, primarily because most people are law abiding with adequate financial resources. And we don't lose many homes and businesses to fire, because most of them are well constructed and newer.

We have great men and women in uniform, but there is a huge cost to provide all of these services.

The General Fund budget is approximately $12 million. The police department alone consumes $3.1 million or more than 25 percent of the town operating budget.

Budget

The process for the budget starts with evaluating prior years' programs, followed by the Corporate Strategic Planning process to determine future needs and initiatives. Each department then submits their budget to the town manager for review, then ultimately to the town council.

Most of our revenue for general services comes from sales tax and we receive very little property tax. State shared sales and income taxes are also significant revenue. Revenues have been flat while spending continues to increase. In order to balance the budget, as we always have, the loser is capital projects like streets.

The council has a duty to spend our money in the most effective (doing the right things) and efficient (doing things right). The term "we always did it that way" is the curse of the private sector. Why? Because somebody will always figure out a better way to do the same thing cheaper and faster.

We need to look at creative ways to provide services.

What experience can you bring to the position you seek?

I currently serve or have served in leadership positions in the military, community service organizations, professional organizations and town government for 30 years. I have a Bachelors Degree in Nursing, a Master's Degree in Business, and in the military completed senior officer development courses equivalent to another Master's Degree. I have a Certificate in Public Policy with distinction from the U of A, Government Programs department and a multitude of other professional designation and certificates.

Why should Payson residents vote for you?

I came to Payson nearly twenty years ago with a Volkswagen, $400, a banjo, a guitar, and a nursing degree.

Today, I am the mayor.

I was not born with a silver spoon and no one has given me anything. I earned what I have accomplished. I drove one night a week to Phoenix for four years to finish my Bachelors Degree in Nursing and then my MBA; I have served my country as a Lieutenant Colonel in war and in peace for 18 years; I cared for people at the hospital for nearly 10 years, in virtually every nursing management position. While there I started the Paramedic Base Station, Cardiac Rehab program and taught Advanced Cardiac Life Support for 15 years to nurses, doctors and EMS personnel.

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Diana Sexton

I was POC Firefighter II/RN with Payson Fire for nearly 10 years. I have given back as much, or more, than I received from this community.

I am the best educated and most experienced candidate running. I have been a good mayor and a good councilmember for 10 years. Those that continue to dredge up personal issues need to look at the facts and the outcomes because there is another side to every single issue I have faced.

I encourage people with doubts to talk with me or my friends to get a true perspective of who I am.

DIANA SEXTON

Diana Sexton is a native of Arizona and her family has lived in Payson for four generations.

Her family owns and operates the Beeline Cafe, a business they have had for almost 50 years.

She and her husband, Paul, have four children and 10 grandchildren. Three of their children still live in town, along with seven of their grandchildren.

Sexton's mother-in-law, Mildred Sexton also lives in town.

The family also owns and operates Sexton Pest Control and Beeline Heating and Cooling.

Water

The whole state is in drought and has been for several years. Our water department is doing all it can do to find water and work through this time. We are pursuing all possible avenues in order to find water, including the Bureau of Reclamation, Blue Ridge, Clint Wells, Mayflower Canyon, Diamond Rim Fault, and exploratory wells, just to name a few.

We are doing our best, and that is all we can do.

Rain will come and we will have learned to have worked through this hard time. We must keep our focus on solving this issue together and with other identities.

As I always say, "This too shall pass." Payson, we will find water.

Infrastructure

Our roads are a huge irritation and safety issue to our citizens. We have not done our best in this area. We need to clean up the right-of-way problems and underground water systems before building or repairing roads.

Growth

Growth is inevitable and will come whether we want it or not. Therefore, it behooves us to work towards healthy and controlled growth for our community.

Jobs

According to DES and the Payson Roundup help wanted ads, there are many jobs available in our town. Jobs include: hospital work, nursing opportunities in various care center, bartenders, contractors, teachers, mechanics, and service jobs

such as waitresses, cashiers, house cleaners, the casino, various executive positions, and many more.

If a person is interested in working, there are opportunities for them. Our colleges and schools are set up to teach our young people trades. It would be

my goal to somehow inspire the unemployed sector in Payson to accept the various jobs available and work their way up to more productive jobs in order to become healthy contributors to our community.

Transportation (traffic, bypass)

At this time, I would prefer to explore other options before putting in the bypass. ADOT has acknowledged they do affect communities. I would like to see Frontier Street, Colcord to Longhorn, Bonita, and McLane to the light by the rodeo grounds attended to ASAP. I believe this would help with the congestion on the weekends.

I have ideas for highways 87 and 260 that may also work before putting in the bypass, and I will provide more details at a later time.

Main Street

I would like to see a healthy economy on Main Street without using town money for private enterprise. We all have different ideas, and that is OK. I may not agree with all of the plans for Main Street, as it were, however, I am willing to work with the various committees and people in order to see a healthy Main Street for our community.

Public Safety

Safety seems to be a high concern for the people of Payson. I am personally very pleased with our community's safety, projects, visions, and goals. My only exception is sidewalks and roads.

Budget

We need stricter restrictions on how the budget can be spent. It should not be possible for funds to be transferred from one department to another. Departments should be required to stick to their budgets.

Why should Payson residents vote for you?

My family and I are natives of Arizona. Four generations of us live in Payson. My great-great grandfather was born in Eden, Ariz., which is just north of Payson.

We have been married for 38 years, and have four children, 10 grandchildren and three businesses. We have no special interests except that this is our home, and we love our community.

Unity is one of the key working words we need. As your mayor, I would bring accountability, honesty, and plain old common sense.

If you are looking for degrees, I have none, but remember our founding fathers, as they started the adventure of our new country chose to get out of the box even though they did not have all the answers and none of the degrees. They used the resources of each other to start the great country we now call ours.

As your mayor, the responsibility of example is very real to my heart. Having all the facts on the table would be top priority in my elected role. An example of this is being told that it would cost us $75,000,000 to fix our roads but, in reality, after ADOT, grants, and developers paying their part, it will actually only cost approximately $15,000,000. This is quite a difference.

If it is not the whole truth, it isn't the truth at all. This kind of information is what needs to be eliminated. We want all of the facts on the table so we can make an informed and wise decision. This is why we have all our department heads and committees working for the people.

I like the TV and radio time, but I believe it could work much better. There are a lot of wise people in our town that just need to get involved. We need to set higher standards and accountability for our public workers. None of us know it all.

I would like to see the open meeting law work for us and not against us. The law states that no less than a quorum of elected officials may meet privately at a time and this makes it very hard to discuss the issues of town. I would like to begin having separate open discussion, brainstorm-type meetings, where the public is welcome as a silent audience via TV or town hall. This way we would know where they stand on each issue. (Sensitive subjects, such as employee issues, would still be discussed in the Executive Sessions.)

Payson, we are not overtaken with water, growth, jobs, Main Street, safety, or budget. We are just challenged. We can accept these challenges together and accomplish them.

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