In Payson's mayoral election between Bob Edwards and Kenny Evans, voters face a classic choice -- one that has been characteristic of this nation since the time of Jefferson, Monroe, Washington and Adams.
Jefferson and the other founders grappled with a broad vision of how to structure a republic designed to serve the needs of the people, now and in the future. Their perspective was that of statesmen, looking beyond personal gain and self-interest.
However, their efforts were opposed vocally and sometimes viciously by plantation owners in Virginia who put their personal interests ahead of the larger public needs. In today's parlance, they were the "Not In My Backyard" people, NIMBYs.
Fortunately for us, the Jeffersonians prevailed.
The parallels with Payson's mayor's race are fairly obvious.
Two years ago, the Edwards' campaign was rooted in a fight to scuttle a housing development just beyond his "plantation" at the end of Phoenix Street. As a skilled politician with a strong funding base in his neighborhood, he essentially got his way.
Today, the NIMBY theme continues. This time it is Mud Springs Road, which intersects Phoenix Street near Mr. Edwards' plantation. Never mind that it was identified as an important artery years ago to permit emergency services to reach people on a timely basis in southeastern Payson.
By contrast, the record of Kenny Evans exemplifies broad selfless community involvements locally -- the boards of Mogollon Health Alliance and the Payson Regional Medical Center, and the Zane Grey Boy Scouts among the local groups -- statewide and nationally -- including a number of years as head of the Arizona Farm Federation.
I've worked closely with Kenny in his role as MHA president over the past few years, and I can truthfully say I've never seen anyone handle that role better. Hardworking, focused on the big picture as well as the details and able to get things done, Kenny has provided the best kind of leadership.
In my position on the Gila Community College board, I have also seen Kenny's efforts and longtime relationships with the leadership of Eastern Arizona College dramatically improve communications and operations at the Payson campus.
Kenny gives his time and effort without a personal ax to grind and with broad visions of how to improve our community through cooperation, rather than confrontation. When the ballots go out in February, I hope voters will recognize the classic differences presented by these two candidates.
Donald K. Crowley