If Rim Country economics can meander beyond tradition, Democrat Mike Pastor believes alternative energy can provide alternative sources of income.
The District 2 Gila County Supervisor candidate deeply believes diversification will even this county's economic fluctuations.
"We have to think out of the box a little bit. This is Arizona. There is a lot of sunshine," Pastor said. "Why does (industry) always have to be in the Valley? Why can't we put it in the rural areas?"
The Roundup's telephone interview with Pastor coincided with news that Arizona's first commercial wind farm would be built near Snowflake.
"Who says we can't get a windmill manufacturing plant in Gila County?"
Pastor lives in Globe, and works at Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold as a senior warehouse technician.
He tracks inventory -- "everything from little quarter-inch bolts to 220-ton trucks." And he also knows the ramifications of an undiversified economy. With rising prices of commodities, mines everywhere are flourishing, emerging from a Snow White-like sleep.
"I've been employed for 35 years and I've seen the cycles," Pastor said.
Though prices now prosperously rest at roughly $3.60 per pound, 20 years ago one pound of copper fetched 54 cents. When the single industry a community relies on falters, so does the community.
A fiscal conservative, Pastor doesn't believe in borrowing money to traverse budget shortfalls. "That sounds to me like it's a reactive process rather than a proactive process."
While unsure of how to balance the budget --e said he hadn't closely examined it yet --astor said living within one's means required efficiency. "We're just going to have to look at everything we're doing and see if we can do it better."
Pastor managed Globe Unified School District's $4 million budget when he sat on its board, and helped Gila County College manage its $10 million budget while sitting on that board. This year is his last on the community college board.
Though he acknowledged, "Ninety million bucks is a lot of money," Pastor cited his past experiences as proof of the fiscal pudding.
According to Pastor, 40 percent of Payson's retail space sits empty. "That's a significant amount of empty space. In Gila County we put all of our faith in the copper mines. We always have. We have to diversify."
He advocates strengthening the business, recreation, ranching and tourist sectors of the economy, along with clearing lines of communication among them. "We need to become a complete county."
"My public record shows that I'm honest; I have integrity. I'm open-minded and look at situations and approach them with as much information as I can."
Regarding water, Pastor lauded Payson's conservation efforts and said, "I would like to see more water conservation efforts in the southern part of the county ... It's something everybody in Arizona ought to be concerned about."
He believes the forest ought "to be managed by everybody so it doesn't get overgrown." That takes compromise, he said. "The Forest Service seems to pretty much rule and I think there's got to be some kind of a compromise."
Acknowledging that his knowledge in forest management is limited, Pastor said he will learn as quickly as possible.
"I'm not afraid to ask questions."
For the past eight months, Pastor said he has knocked on neighbors' doors, asking people what concerns them.
He reported people's worries about insufficient upkeep for infrastructure in unincorporated areas. Payson residents say not enough communication exists between them and the county supervisors. Pastor also suggested training county employees so they provide better customer service.
He urged voters to "vote their conscience." He added, "Of course I would appreciate them voting for Mike Pastor."