Vital Choices Confront Rim Country Voters

Darrell Stubbs and Adam Shepherd

Darrell Stubbs and Adam Shepherd Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Home values fall, as property taxes rise.

You call the sheriff and no one shows up for an hour.

The economy collapses, but no one can build because of the impact fees.

The Arizona Legislature balances its budget — but cuts $2 billion from schools.

Residents of northern Gila County pay 70 percent of the taxes, but must drive to Globe to get basic services.

The school board closes schools and increases class sizes mumbling regretfully that they have no choice.

The board of supervisors approves wildcat subdivisions with asphalt shingle roofs in the midst of thick forests that firefighters must somehow protect for the next 30 years.

But hey. Elections don’t matter.

Right?

No, actually. We think they do.

Especially this year.

That’s why we’ve prepared this special section on the Aug. 28 primary election, the crucial curtain-raiser to the November general election.

Mostly, we’re focused on the vital, local races no one else tracks. But you’ll also find some stories on the U.S. Congress and state legislative races — some with bitterly contested primaries and some with unopposed slates in the primary getting ready for a general election campaign that will offer some stark and crucial choices.

Meanwhile, local voters will face more choices in the primary and general election campaigns than they have in years.

photo

Ray Van Buskirk

The choices start with the county offices — some of them contested for the first time in years. Partly, that reflects the impact of redistricting in the wake of the population shift from southern Gila County to the north in the course of the past decade. For the first time, the district lines for the board of supervisors make it possible to elect a board that’s well balanced between north and south — providing northern Gila County voters go to the polls.

Moreover, voters must make an absolutely essential choice among a host of candidates to replace retiring Sheriff John Armer. The sheriff’s office remains the most important elective office in the county, since the department provides police protection for a vast sprawl of territory and even for incorporated communities like Star Valley.

Meanwhile, normally uncontested offices like treasurer, assessor and recorder have energetic campaigns in both the primary and general elections.

Knowing the stakes, we’ve done our best to identify the issues and offer some insights into the candidates.

This section will not only help you sort things out for next Tuesday’s primary, it also effectively launches our effort to cover the general election. So we’ll put all the articles in this section on our Web site, where we’ll create a section to track the candidates and their evolving positions right on through Nov. 4, when it’s all on the line. Of course, we’ll stick to our mission — focusing on the local candidates and issues. But we’ll keep adding to that election site with new articles.

Moreover, we’ll work on adding extra features. For instance, we submitted questionnaires to many of the candidates. We didn’t end up with room in the special section to offer their full answers — but we can post that on the Web site.

We’re also hoping to get the candidates to offer a series of point-counterpoint positions on key issues. We’ll put as much of that as we can fit in the newspaper for the next six weeks — but we’ll put more stuff on our election site on the Web. We’ll also try to provide links to Web sites and coverage in other publications, to help you gather the information you need to make the choices that will determine so much.

So we hope this helps.

We think it will. After all, we’ve gotten to know you — our beloved readers. And one thing we’ve learned: When it comes to making a great community and making the hard choices, there’s no one better qualified than you folks.

So here you are.

It’s your country.

You decide.

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