Election Brings Sweeping Changes In Gila County Leadership

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Major projects Gila County completed this year included construction of seven new bridgess along the Control Road. The bridges will improve access to string of isolated communities. The Control Road remains the major evacuation route for half a dozen communities that could face big problems in a wildfire. However, the county made little progress in providing back-door escape routes for several communities. Fire officials worry they’ll have trouble evacuating those areas at the same time fire trucks seek access. Unfortunately, the Tonto National Forest has said it can’t provide emergency escape routes for those communities until it completes its forest-wide travel management plan. The plan has been stalled for two years and probably won’t be released for another year.

The 2012 primary and general elections brought several new faces to the leadership of Gila County.

Supervisors Tommie Martin, from District 1, and Mike Pastor, of District 2, were returned to office. However, Pastor took the role of now chairman of the Gila County Board of Supervisors, while Martin hold the vice chair’s seat.

Pastor is started his second term with the 2012 election, while Martin has been on the board since her installation in January 2005.

John Marcanti, who won the District 3 Supervisor seat in the August Democratic primary, replacing the retiring Shirley Dawson, joined the two veterans. Dawson came to office the same time as Martin. It was not until January, when the new and returning elected officials were sworn into office that Marcanti officially took over for Dawson.

There are new officials leading several county departments as a result of the 2012 election. Long-time county attorney Daisy Flores lost her re-election bid to Bradley Beauchamp. Veteran sheriff John Armer retired and Adam Shepherd won the election to replace him. Deborah Hughes beat incumbent assessor Dale Hom, who had not been challenged in more than 20 years.

Now, within the first quarter of 2013, there have been more changes. Recently the directors of the finance, human resource and IT departments all resigned. Resignations announced were for Joe Heatherly, who has been finance director for nearly three years and has accepted a position in the private sector in western Arizona; Berthan DeNero, who is leaving the human resources department after five and one-half years to accept another position in neighboring Pinal County; and Darryl Griffin, IT Director for the past five and one-half years who is going into private business.

Malissa Buzan has been named as director of the county’s community services division. “Malissa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position as well as a real passion for the clients that this division serves,” said county manager Don McDaniel.

Buzan has worked for the Community Services Department for 20 years, and has been acting director for the past four months.

Linda Eastlick has been named human resources director.

“Linda has vast experience in HR, and has been a valuable member of the Management Team in her role as Elections Director,” McDaniel said.

John Nelson, who has been with the county for many years, serving as deputy county manager and formal clerk of the board of supervisors, retired March 30.

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