Steve Christensen of Payson is the new supervisor for Gila County District 1, which was left vacant by the Dec. 10 death of Tommie Cline Martin.
Supervisors Tim Humphrey, District 2, and Woody Cline, District 3, and Marian Shepherd, clerk of the board, appointed Christensen to the seat at a special meeting Tuesday, Jan 12.
Family, faith and service are among values that guide Payson resident and businessman Steve Christensen, who took the oath of office for Gila County’s District 1 supervisor.
Currently one of five elders leading the Church of Christ on West Olive, his diverse resumé ranges from cabinet-maker to pilot and flight instructor; he also served on the Payson Historic Preservation and Conservation Commission as well as the Payson Airport Commission.
Many in Payson know Christensen and his wife Karen from the T-shirt screen-printing and embroidery business, Tonto Silk Screen and Embroidery, which they owned and operated in Payson.
If the surname sounds familiar, it should. His father, Ron Christensen, also served 16 years in office as Gila County’s District 1 supervisor, representing Payson and Rim Country spanning four terms from 1989 to 2004.
“My dad talked about issues such as taxation, property valuations, road improvement — and described how the job took him to Washington, D.C., advocating for Gila County and funding for various projects that rely on federal support. I knew Tommie and knew her parents as well — when my father decided to retire from the Board of Supervisors, he encouraged and supported Tommie to run. Over the years I have been approached numerous times to run, but Tommie was a fellow Republican — and we shared many values such as keeping taxes as low as possible, and for county government to continue living within a budget. Forest health and watershed protection are among my priorities, too; these are also shared values that Tommie was known for — and which I will focus on. I have been given this opportunity to take an active role with forest management, wildfire safety, and watersheds — and a responsibility to restrain our budget and continue to hold the line on taxes.”
Martin’s death left a hard decision to her fellow Supervisors Humphrey and Cline to appoint a successor to serve through the 2022 midterm elections.
“We are still grieving the loss of Tommie Martin, and we gave a lot of serious thought, time and energy into choosing someone to fulfill her term in office. We considered more than 20 men and women for this job — District 1 is fortunate to have so many qualified candidates that were willing to step forward and fill the vacancy, and I believe Tommie would be pleased with our choice. Steve has a business background and deep connections in Payson. He’s a man of faith and has demonstrated his commitment to Rim Country. I’m grateful that he’s willing to join us on the Board of Supervisors,” said Woody Cline, District 3 supervisor.
Born in Indiana in 1958, Christensen grew up in Douglas, where he met his wife, Karen. Early in his career he spent 12 years as a licensed pilot and flight instructor at Cochise College, then lived and worked in Phoenix installing custom cabinets. The Christensens have two children, a daughter who lives in Payson and a son near Dallas, Texas. After two decades in business, they sold their Payson T-shirt screen-printing and embroidery company in 2010. Entrepreneurs, both remain in the workforce, Karen runs her own contract mail route while Steve resumed his passion for carpentry full-time, spending the past decade building custom cabinets and furniture for clients throughout Rim Country.
“After working with Supervisor Martin for four years, and looking forward to working with her for four more, it has been difficult to appoint someone to take the position of District 1 supervisor,” said Supervisor Tim Humphrey. “Now that the process is complete, I am looking forward to getting back to agenda meetings with all three districts represented.”