I need your help. If a pollster calls you in the next few weeks and asks your opinion on county issues, I'm asking you to please give them the 15 minutes it will take to thoughtfully answer the questions posed.
Your participation and response will be held in the strictest confidence by the polling firm. I will never know who answered. I will only know what you answered.
I really do want to know your opinions. And I do mean yours -- not what the newspapers want you to think, not what the radio wants you to think, not what I might want you to think, not what your boss or your spouse or your kids want you to think. I just want to know what you, personally, think.
Why? Chairman Joe Sanchez and I want to "take your pulse." We think it is time to aggressively canvass for your "two cents worth" on how you think the county is serving you in various areas, what your position is on certain issues, and what you think we might be overlooking in general.
We'd also like to know with some degree of certainty that we are hearing from a good cross section of the folks who make up this county.
We and our staff hear from the same few squeaky wheels all the time. We also hear from those who figured out the system years ago and have had undue influence on the decision making ever since.
We want to add a broader base to that. We'd like to hear from those of you who are working or raising kids or running a business or doing volunteer work or otherwise leading busy lives while we are meeting. We want to hear from you who aren't inclined to make waves, but who have opinions.
At the Board of Supervisors meeting held in Payson on March 21, we approved retaining Wright Consulting Services of Strawberry to help provide us with that information.
This will not be the typical public opinion poll. Wright Consulting is one of the premier political and public policy research and strategy development firms in the southwestern United States. Joel Wright, the principal of Wright Consulting, is an acknowledged expert in psychographics modeling research, which provides a much deeper and richer context for communication with our residents than the traditional market research or polling.
For scientific purposes, the poll will be conducted from our county list of 28,338 active registered voters.
A "statistically relevant random sample" will be pulled from the active voter list, which we expect to be in the neighborhood of 400 interviews.
The sample size will yield an overall margin of error of +/-5 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. This means that we can be 95 percent sure that we could only improve the survey by 5 percent if we went on and surveyed all +/- 28,000 voters. This makes for a very strong sampling.
Mr. Wright will also be able to analyze, in depth, the various Gila County voter groups (north to south, young and old, student and nonstudent, Anglo and other). All interviews will be conducted from a central telephone data collection facility by professional survey research interviewers. Only complete interviews will be accepted into the database.
Once completed, we will publicly share the survey results so we can all know what we are collectively thinking. I believe this type of information will help us, the Board of Supervisors, to craft specific solutions to specific problems as opposed to the all too common "one size fits all."
For my part, I have a bone deep belief that the more people we can get in on this conversation, the better the ultimate decisions will be.
We will soon be bringing online a special link in our Gila County Web site to solicit your opinions on issues on an ongoing basis. But more about that later.