Fire Districts Mostly Bet On Experience In Low-Key Elections

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Charlie Conover

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Richard Pinkerton

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Phon Sutton

In a fire district facing a potential $300,000 in cuts, voters went with experience Tuesday.

With more than 70 percent of the votes, incumbents Charles Conover and Richard Pinkerton reclaimed their seats on the Hellsgate Fire Board, beating out challenger Phon Sutton.

Conover and Pinkerton carried the votes in the Star Valley district. Sutton had a clean win over Pinkerton in the Zane Grey district, but it was not enough for a win.

Zane Grey voters know Sutton from his work merging Tonto Village fire with Hellsgate. Star Valley voters are more familiar with Pinkerton and Conover, who have served on the board for 10 and six years respectively.

While Sutton campaigned on taking cost-cutting measures and lowering the tax rate, Pinkerton and Conover were more reluctant to pinpoint how they plan to make cuts after the department loses a $160,000 a year contract with Payson and assessed valuations decrease 15 percent.

Both men said they don’t plan to make any cuts to staff, but will consider all options.

On Thursday, Pinkerton said he was glad to win. Now, he and the rest of the board can continue work on a strategic plan and budgeting.

“We will do everything we can to make it more economical,” he said.

Conover said he was pleased to get back to work and “keep serving the folks out here.”

Sutton did not return a call for comment as of press time.

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Fire Board

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Water Board

Christopher-Kohl’s Fire District

In the Christopher-Kohl’s Fire District, Jeffrey Daniels and Deborah Dawson claimed two open seats. Dawson barely beat out Mikey Marazza, winning by less than 1 percent.

Pine-Strawberry Fire District

In the Pine-Strawberry Fire District, David Burkhart and Forrest McCoy won seats on the board, each bringing in 35 percent of the votes.

Whispering Pines

For Whispering Pines, Robert Hull, Harry Jones and Henry A. “Al” Kendall secured three open seats on the fire board.

Tonto Basin

One of the closest races among Northern Gila County fire districts was in Tonto Basin, where John France won out over Pamela Burruel by 20 votes.

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