In a group of outstanding candidates for Payson Town Council, I have no hesitancy in supporting Diane Sexton. She understands, in the same sense as America's earliest and greatest leaders always have, the meaning of democracy.
On Nov. 11, 1620, our Mayflower ancestors agreed as follows:
"We ... covenant and combine ourselves together in a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation ... and by virtue hereof do enact such just and equal laws ... as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony." In a famous speech, Abraham Lincoln expressed the same idea in the words, "... we here highly resolve ... that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom ... and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth."
Sexton is the only candidate who has openly recognized the substantial risk Payson faces of a catastrophic fire because of the 100-year build-up of fuels on the forest floor and our current exceptionally dry conditions.
She is not in favor of waiting for government funding in order to prevent a disaster. She thinks, as people in small isolated communities always have, that we should organize to solve this problem ourselves.
Diane advocates a voluntary work force working in cooperation with the town government to substantially reduce this risk. I know from my own limited experience that this can work. The Town of Payson can provide equipment to remove the accumulated brush after volunteers have arranged it in piles.
I live in Payson adjacent to the National Forest boundary. In a cooperative effort, we have cleared an area 100 feet deep behind our property lines of everything except grass and large trees. Payson has a large population of retired people. Many of them, like myself, are in good health and can, with proper equipment, do this work.
When one compares the assessed valuation of this town with the small cost to Payson town government of providing some equipment, it is irresponsible not to do this. Remember that we don't know how long these dry conditions will exist. It only takes a lightning strike in the forest, or a cigarette thrown from a car window, to start such a fire as has already destroyed substantial areas along Highway 87 near Fountain Hills.
Jim Winter, Payson