Incumbent Republican District One Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin wants to keep her job, but now faces a general election challenge from Independent Hallie Overman-Jackman. No other Republicans, Democrats or Independents have filed, which means voters won’t get to make a choice until Nov. 6.
The Roundup recently asked both candidates to fill out a questionnaire indicating their top issues and goals.
Martin is a lifelong resident of Gila County and has served on the board of supervisors for eight years. Before her election, she worked for 24 years as a natural resource management educator, facilitator, consultant and advocate on both the national and international level. She also served as a legislative aide to the Arizona House Rules Committee chairman and rules attorneys and worked as a state and Congressional lobbyist for the Arizona Cattlegrowers Association and Center for Holistic Management. Martin also served as a Republican precinct committeeman in the 1970s and ’80s.
Overman-Jackman has lived in District One of Gila County for 13 years. She owned Total Business Solutions, a payroll and tax preparation company, from 2000 to 2007 and still provides tax preparation services. She is owner and president of Hurlburt Development and Overman Land Company, through which she oversaw the engineering and development of subdivisions. Hurlburt Development was the developer on the Chilson Project on Main Street, which she put on hold in 2007 when the real estate market hit the skids.
Overman-Jackman has worked on several local, county and state election campaigns and served on the Payson Zoning Commission. Elected to the Arizona Planning Association from 2004 to 2007, she has also served on the boards of Payson Community Kids, Arizonans for Kids, Rim Country Rotary (she is a past president), co-chair of the Payson Electric Light Christmas Parade, Magic on the Mountain (holiday lighting for Green Valley Park) for three years, chair for the Heritage Festival in 2008 and 2009 and Payson’s 125th Rodeo Committee.
Why are you running?
Martin: I believe I can provide direction and leadership.
Overman-Jackman: I am running for county policy transparency; county fiscal responsibility; and National Forest issues.
Addressing the issues
On the economy: “I am and have been committed to Gila County not making the effects of the depressed housing market any worse on our citizens by not increasing our portion of the property tax bill. We prepared for a depressed economy to maintain stable government services without increasing property taxes.”
On long-term unemployment: “The state currently has Gila County tied to Pinal County for all workforce development activity, which may have made sense 25 years ago when we had similar interests. Today, however, just one of their unincorporated communities — San Tan Flats — has one-and-a-half times as many citizens as all of Gila County. Pinal is now an urban county and it is directing our collective workforce development and job training. I am spearheading a five eastern Arizona county consortium (all rural; all natural resource based; all with very similar issues; and all tied in some way to large urban areas who take all the focus and resources) to petition the governor to allow us to become a new Workforce Investment Area and address our workforce development needs that are very different from urban areas.”
On natural disasters: “Catastrophic forest fire remains the single largest natural disaster threat to my constituents. We continue to expand on my vision of sufficient, helicopter-available water with 5-minute turnaround times from Pine-Strawberry to Young. This has developed into 35 heli-well sites of military surplus fuel bladders that hold 20,000-50,000 gallons of water alongside open topped tanks holding 6,000-10,000 gallons of water so that Type I, Type II and Type III helicopters can pull water from them to fight fires. During the recent Poco Fire, for instance, Type I helicopters were dumping from 1,500-2,000 gallons of water every four minutes. The Type 2 Fire Team on the Poco recently told our board of supervisors that Gila County’s heli-well set-up let them hold the fire at 12,000 acres rather than the 100,000 acres plus that fire had all the potential to be.
“In tandem, is my involvement in the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI), whereby stakeholders work collaboratively to bring industry back into our forests for ultimate forest restoration. The over-arching goal is to allow industry to profit from the removal of forest products while following sustainable environmental prescriptions. This effort, too, addresses a poor economy and unemployment.
On public safety: “A real consequence of a depressed economy is an increase in crime, particularly those crimes driven by frustration such as domestic violence, abandonment, driving impaired, drug use, disorderly charges, etc. Even though we are insisting on a 6.5 percent average reduction on existing property tax revenues, we must at the same time make sure our criminal justice system can handle this increased activity. Seventy cents out of every tax dollar currently goes to our criminal justice sector and the state indigent health care programs.”
On irresponsible legislature: “Our state legislature is still hitting the Gila County taxpayer for over $1 million in lost revenues and increased programs this year. In other words, they have been indirectly ‘balancing their budget’ on the backs of Gila County taxpayers. For instance, when the Legislature received citizen approval for a state lottery, they did so with the promise of rural counties receiving a portion of the revenues. The $550,000 that would have been Gila County’s share this year was, again, withheld from us by the state. Another example is the state deciding that, even though there is an increase in domestic violence statewide, they no longer identify or fund school resource officers as a priority. Gila County was given funds for three school resource officers and now only receives funding for one. Sheriff John Armer is currently subsidizing this effort, but can only do so for about another year. We have been — and must stay — ever vigilant to get those and other funds returned to us and not be forced into raising our property taxes.”
On policy transparency: “Provide better awareness of county operations to give voters more information on where their tax dollars are being spent. Provide timely publishing of county job opportunities. Provide better information on county programs that are available.”
On fiscal responsibility:
“I will make sure that our tax dollars are spent more wisely and evenly and District One receives equal revenue distribution. I will also offer better budgeting oversight and review on county contracts, as well as a strong “hands-on” policy on all county construction projects to, in the future, avoid problems such as those that arose with the construction of the new women’s jail.
“I want to review contracts that are presently held by all divisions of the county to make sure that they are in the best interests of District 1 residents. Providing oversight on all divisions of the county will make sure that they are within sound business practices in their daily operations.”
On National Forest Service: “I want to promote better recreational development for safe use of our forest and better and more campsite development. I also want to address the standard “Road Closure” issue with both the Forest Service and our congressmen. I will provide an open door policy to all Gila County residents (not just during election years). Standing up for District One voters, I am not beholden for any favors, backdoor deals or the regular politics at large. If and when I have an issue moving forward because of any previous or present ‘politics,’ I will make sure that the voters are informed.”
Why should you be elected?
Martin: “Now, more than ever, experience counts. I am very effective at dealing with these and many other issues and have a proven track record of bringing about positive change without increasing property taxes. I have also used my years as your supervisor to build the trust with state and other counties’ leadership to continue getting ‘the best bang for our buck’ in these and other issues. As a final reason, the 4FRI effort (that I helped initiate) has the potential of changing the way we address natural resource issues west wide — and time is of the essence that we do so. Witness the difference between us being ready for the Poco Fire and what’s going on in Colorado right now. We must hold the line on these fires and get a big enough, fast enough, industry presence to essentially change the game. What you have now with me as your county supervisor is a primary and fundamental national presence in this issue.”
Overman-Jackman: “I will bring land use and planning knowledge to the board of supervisors, along with executive management experience, community commitment and budgeting experience. As an Independent, I will be the residents’ of Rim Country’s representative, no one else’s. I am not beholden to anyone but District 1 residents.”