Candidates for seats on the Gila County Board of Supervisors appeared before a packed house at the July 19 meeting of the Payson chapter of the Tea Party.
Tommie Martin, incumbent District One supervisor, and Ronnie McDaniel, candidate for District Three supervisor, spoke to the group about their backgrounds and why they are running, and then fielded questions.
Martin has been on the board for eight years and comes to the office from work in natural resource management, which took her all over the world. McDaniel has been a public servant throughout his working life, serving as a deputy with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office and as a judge. Both are life-long residents of Gila County.
McDaniel said he is running because he thinks he can do a lot of good for the county. His goal is to fairly represent all of Gila County, not just the residents of the sprawling District 3, which includes parts of Payson, all of Star Valley, portions of the White Mountain Apache Reservation, parts of Globe and the southern most point of the county.
He said while his two opponents are good men, he believes he is the better-qualified candidate.
“I will have an open-door policy. I believe in communication. I’ll be fair,” McDaniel said.
He added he thinks he could work well with Martin.
Martin said she would be delighted to have McDaniel to work with on the board if she is re-elected.
“He is someone with a whole-county perspective. That is something I strive for, but right now, I’m the only one,” Martin said.
She said her experience would be a benefit if she is re-elected. “I know where the money comes from and where it goes. I know the make up and jobs of the county’s commissions and boards.”
Questions and answers
Martin was asked about the role a supervisor can play in bringing jobs into Gila County.
She said right now the most important factor in the jobs equation is the Workforce Investment Act money. It is funneled to the county through the Central Arizona Association of Governments, which has Gila County tied to Pinal County.
“That was alright in the past, but Pinal has exploded. One of their unincorporated communities, San Tan Flats, has one-and-a-half times the population of all of Gila County.”
Consequently, the system now lacks balanced funding and many of the counties and towns lack common ground. Martin said she is pushing to have a realignment in the Association of Governments, which would put Gila together with other rural counties that like Gila have poor economies, poor health and poor education.
As for creating jobs, Martin believes real wealth is in natural resources and work in those fields will add value to the economy, providing jobs that pay for themselves in terms of public services needed.
Asked about getting the Forest Service to keep more forest roads open, Martin said she is working on that issue in regard to Fossil Creek Road. She said she has learned that if a road is on BLM land and was used prior to 1976, it can’t be closed. However, if one is on Forest Service land it must have been in existence five years before the Forest Service started in 1906, to be exempt from closure.
McDaniel said he uses the roads the Forest Service likes to close. He said he believes that through communication and some arm-twisting, a solution can be achieved that is not as bad as what is currently being proposed.
“I know they’ll try to run over us, but if the majority of the people of Gila County want, I’m willing to fight that fight, but it will be costly.”
Asked why he wanted to be a supervisor, McDaniel said he wants to try and bring together the county. “I will be fair to every community in the district and represent the whole county. I can do a good job,” he said.
Martin said she wants another go at the job to work with McDaniel and see some of the work she has done to make the county’s forests healthy move further along.
“We have a chance to make a difference in Gila County if we all get out and vote,” she said.
Candidates for county supervisor
Also seeking election to the Gila County Board of Supervisors are Hallie Overman Jackman, Independent, District 1; incumbent Michael Pastor, Democrat, District 2; David Cook, Republican, District 2; Tim Humphrey, Republican, District 2; John D. Marcanti, Democrat, District 3; and Marvin Mull Jr., Democrat, District 3.