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home : latest news : regional February 6, 2016

8/8/2012 8:31:00 AM
Meet the candidates for county supervisor, District 4

Following are the six candidates, all Republicans, competing for the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors District 4 seat. The district spans the northwest corner of the county, including Williamson Valley, Chino Valley, a part of Prescott, and Coyote Springs.

Name: William Blankemeier

Age: 50

Party: Republican

Running in: Dist. 4

Years in Yavapai County: 13

Occupation: Yavapai County health inspector

Political experience: None

Why he wants to be on the board:

"One of my strengths is the fact that I am not a career politician," he said. "Everybody says we need the 'average Joe' running for office."

Top issues Supervisors must address:

Water management is a priority, and he sees economic development as a part of that.

"There are a lot of low-water-use businesses out there that would be very advantageous, like warehouses," Blankemeier said, adding that "You could have FedEx or UPS warehouses, because we're right in between I-40 and I-17, and there's very low water use in businesses like that."

He said he would work to bring more industry to his district. "I think if you're not going forward, you're going backward and I think it's a priority to get some commerce and some business going northbound," to balance what he sees as job growth efforts in and around Prescott Valley.

He said roads play a vital role in that economic development as well: "When you're an outsider looking in, and you come here, the first thing you look for is...what type of access do I have?" Blankemeier said, " so I think you get a lot of benefit by establishing roads. Where there are roads, there is growth."

Blankemeier said he thinks it is time to weed out unnecessary regulations. "I believe in a sundown clause" on laws, he said. "A lot of times, the county regulations, when these things are implemented, they never get revisited or eliminated.

"We should revisit laws that were created in 2006, when the economy was different," he said. "When issues aren't revisited, it's a one-size-fits-nobody policy."

Name: Craig Brown

Age: 63

Party: Republican

Running in: Dist. 4

Years in Yavapai County: 7 years

Occupation: Retired; was a police officer in California

Political experience: L.A. County Administrator

Why he wants to be on the board:

"I'm interested in the affairs of this county," he said. "I want to make sure we're doing everything we can to give the citizens of this county the most bang for their buck in the way of county service."

Top issues Supervisors must address:

"Jobs are the number one issue here," he said, with water and transportation a close second and third.

"We need to find some way to create jobs," he said. He's advocating a push for several kinds of agricultural jobs, like "organic farms, or raising flowers and shipping them out of the county.

Tourism-based jobs are especially attractive to Brown, "but we seem to be splintered in how we approach (tourism)."

He said each town does what it wants when it comes to tourist events, but that there's no communication between the municipalities.

Brown said water is critical to make economic development happen; but he also said he would protect the Verde River. "The Verde has to be saved," he said. "We cannot let the Verde go dry.

"We can't make the same mistakes our fathers and mothers and grandfathers made back at the turn of the century, where you just used a resource until it was gone and then you moved on," Brown said.

He supports collecting household rainfall runoff and believes that household graywater could be recycled, as well.

As President of the Williamson Valley Community Organization, he opposes the Williamson Valley road-widening project.

"I don't want to see it turned into a freeway going up there-we want to keep our rural atmosphere," he said. "In fact, the whole district (4) wants to keep its rural atmosphere."

Name: Walter Burcham

Age: 57

Party: Republican

Running in: Dist. 4

Years in Yavapai County: 18 years

Occupation: Retired; Yavapai College IT Department

Political experience: Yavapai County Planning & Zoning Commission; Board of Adjustments & Appeals

Why he wants to be on the board:

"I have been involved with Yavapai County for over two decades. I listen, I get it, and I will work hard for Yavapai County," he said. "My experience and academic training, as well as my enthusiasm and creativity have prepared me well to help provide vigorous and innovative leadership for you."

Top issues Supervisors must address:

He said there are three major issues confronting the county. "The first one is the economy. The second one is the economy. And the third one is the economy."

That's why he wants to partner with an economic development organization.

"I'm not saying that we need to hire an economic development director, I'm just saying we need to partner with one that's out there," he said.

Burcham said, "We need to help out communities (like Chino Valley). Their civic leaders are wearing many hats. We need to help bring in new businesses."

Noting that some conservatives say, "It's not government's responsibility to create jobs," he points to the high unemployment rate and layoffs as problems that government may be able to help repair.

"The economy is not well right now," he said.

Burcham believes the new five-supervisor board will benefit residents of the more rural parts of the county; while he said the current board members "are doing the best they can...a lot of times, their focus is on more-populated areas."

He acknowledges that sometimes "they want things the county can't provide," but said that county government could still offer help, perhaps in the form of education in grant-writing so people could find sources of money for projects like repairs on private roads.

"Wherever I can find money, I'm going to find it," he said.

But, he said, he won't raise taxes. "No way."

"I don't want to provide services by floating a bond, either," he added. "Don't want to put us in debt."

Name: Dick Busby

Age: 67

Party: Republican

Running in: Dist. 4

Years in Yavapai County: 42

Occupation: Retired; was a County Building Code administrator

Political experience: None

Why he wants to be on the board:

"I want to make a change at the local level," he said. "I have no intention of going to state or federal office...I think it's more important to help your local citizens."

Top issues the Supervisor must address:

The budget is a priority. "The general fund budget alone went from $52 million and change in 2002 to $92 million and change this year," he said, "and I think it's time to stop growing government and start giving the taxpayers a break."

Busby believes that rural and urban areas need to be treated differently. "One size ordinance doesn't fit all, and when you have people in rural areas that have to deal with the same type of ordinances that (were written for) the urban areas, it hurts people," Busby said.

He said impact fees assessed "for regional roads" are a good example of that. "People living in outlying areas pay that $3,500 (impact fee), and they never see any improvements in the area they live in."

He also wants lower taxes and less spending, and points to the idea that, in this budget cycle, there was a suggestion to return $200,000 back to taxpayers, but Supervisor Carol Springer "thought that wouldn't give them much money back," he said, "but anything we can give back, they deserve it."

Busby said he'd like to see lower taxes, as well. "We need to be looking at how the school boards and fire departments are jacking their (tax) rates up, and I think the County Supervisors should be walking and talking in those shoes a little bit more than they are."

Name: Lynn S. Duke

Age: 58

Party: Republican

Running in: Dist. 4

Years in Yavapai County: 43 years

Occupation: Retired, City of Prescott Public Works Dept.

Political experience: None

Why she wants to be on the board:

"I have 23 years' government experience with the City of Prescott and Yavapai County," she said. "I want to try to steer us in the direction we need to go. I want to try to represent the citizens the way they want to be represented."

Top issues Supervisors must address:

Duke said economic development is a priority, but, "the county doesn't provide jobs, it doesn't have an economic development department" to bring businesses here. "It can't provide the incentives needed for businesses to start up," she said, "because (the county) doesn't have the water and sewer infrastructure available; it's the towns and cities that have that."

She said that the county can partner with the towns and cities to promote economic development, and it can "keep the regulation and permitting process as business-friendly as possible to encourage new businesses to come to the area and encourage existing businesses to expand."

Duke said a finding a sustainable water supply for the area will be a critical issue. "I think we need to look at alternate sources of water," she said, such as "macro rainwater harvesting." She said the board needs to try to "influence" state-level agencies to "improve our water problem.

"We need to work on preserving the natural environment and our resources," she said, "such as our open space and wildlife habitat. And protect the flow of the Verde River."

She put a priority on maintaining and fixing roads. "I'd like to focus on promoting safe and cost-effective and well-maintained county roads," she said. "Now we have an opportunity, with things kind of stabilizing and slowing down a little bit, to try to improve on existing roadways."

Name: Gary Warren

Age: 44

Party: Republican

Running in: Dist. 4

Years in Yavapai County: 38

Occupation: Business owner

Political experience: None

Why he wants to be on the board:

"I want to continue helping my community," Warren said. "I've worked with law enforcement for almost 10 years, and have worked with youth organizations. This is just the next step in helping the community."

Top issues Supervisors must address:

He said big projects will be a concern, giving the Williamson Valley Road widening project as an example. As to whether he's in favor of it? "Everybody asks that, and that's not a clear-cut, easy deal," he said. "If there's a need for it, then we need to do it. If there's not a current need for it, then we should hold off."

The new jail, another big project, has his attention as well. "They should have never moved it to the Verde Valley in the first place," Warren said. "It needs to be over here, so I am for it, but again, it doesn't need to be done tomorrow."

He's not sure that the county should be involved in economic development. "The county is spread out, with rural (residents) all over the place, so I don't know that that necessarily applies to them, unless the county works with one of the towns on a project."

He believes the county's primary goals should be "to take care of the roads, provide a jail...the health department - (the county) has other responsibilities than what a town or city (would have)." Warren said he would address issues of other districts by visiting them.

"You have a district, but you're responsible for the entire county," he said, "and there's four other districts that have just as many things going on...(I want to) get up to speed with their concerns and thoughts and ideas."

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