Danny Michels, Democratic candidate for District 2 Gila County Supervisor, brandishes himself as the quintessential conservative.
The Globe resident noted both Republican and Democratic parties have evolved over the years.
"I would term myself conservative," Michels said. "Conservative and Democrat don't usually go together."
But in a theme often repeated by candidates for county office, Michels said local issues tend more toward the non-partisan.
He cited funding as a fundamental county concern.
"The funding of county government is going to be a really difficult issue for the next few years until our economy improves."
Michels noted the high level of retail vacancies in Payson -- he quoted the number at 20 percent -- and said understanding why those buildings sit empty is important. "These are all issues that need to be addressed."
He advocates a stable tax rate -- as opposed to a "roller coaster ride" of rising and falling rates.
"The county has to make it feasible for business and industry to move here."
Acknowledging that the county has only limited influence in attracting business, Michels said that the county could provide tax incentives similar to the breaks towns provide.
"I am not opposed to looking at those types of things to bring business to our county."
When asked if he thought current taxes are too high, he said, "I always think taxes are too high. If there are ways to cut taxes and stuff, those are things that I would look into."
Michels promises that "rather than just rubber stamp tax increases, I would look for ways to get the job done at a less cost to the taxpayers."
Michels considers himself a business candidate. He's managed a convenience/liquor store in Globe since 1983, and prior to that, managed the sales department at a car dealership.
"I'm not completely dissatisfied with the leadership. I take more of a business-type approach to it," Michels said.
"That's kind of the attitude I want to bring into the office rather than ‘we need this, let's tax.'"
According to Michels, county employee morale is low, partially because of non-competitive wages.
"We cannot match mine wages. That's an impossible task, but we can be competitive to where our people are happy."
Four years ago, he lost to Jose Sanchez by 77 votes. Michels said he carried the area in Payson that sits in District 2.
Regarding forest management, Michels advocates thinning trees and responsible forest management to avoid "these infernos that we've been getting lately."
"The timber industry is a good, viable industry." Michels seeks diversification.
"I want to retain industry and I also want to expand on industry." Types of industry depend on the situation.
"If you bring in industry up north, for instance, it requires vast amounts of water, you'd have to look at that closely because you have water issues up there," he said.
"I would never not look at an industry. I wouldn't necessarily be favorable to every industry."
With only 3 percent private land, "we can only grow so far." But "we can have smart growth along with jobs to go with it."
Workshops or partnerships with the community college could help train the work force.
"You can never get too much training," Michels said.
Youth programs could help prevent drug abuse. "The courts have to hold up what you do. It's a problem with many tentacles attached to it."
Michels suggests the possibility of increased law enforcement funding and rehabilitation programs to fight drug abuse.
"If we could wave that magic wand, every county would be doing it."
Education is the best way to wage the war, Michels said.