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Justice O'Connor, Coor want to involve more voters in primary

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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With former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in attendance, the chairman of The Arizona We Want Institute encouraged Verde Valley residents and leaders to promote more citizen involvement in the political process and press candidates about their vision for the state.

The event, attended by a full house of more than 100, was held June 9 at the Sedona Center for Arts & Technology. It was sponsored by Speak Out Sedona and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Emphasizing the importance of the primary election in August, Lattie Coor warned that Arizonans "will be missing a very significant opportunity" to shape the future of their state.

He said the primary will decide more winners — two-thirds of state offices — than the general election.

In the 2012 primary, just 28 percent of Arizona's registered voters — 17 percent of eligible voters — cast a ballot, Coor said.

Later in the year, 56 percent of registered voters participated in the general election, which, of course, was a presidential election. That percentage ranked 45th among states.

Coor said it's important that voters who are registered as Independent — a group that outnumbers each of the two major parties — know that they can vote in either the, Democratic or Republican primaries.

O'Connor, who lent her presence to the cause but didn't speak at the event, asked Coor how his organization is getting the word out.

"We have 10,000 people we've contacted in written form," he responded, "but telling them personally makes all the difference."

To accomplish that — as well as the eight goals its research shows that citizens want — the group is enlisting other organizations to become "AZ Advocates."

Among those on board are Expect More Arizona, which supports the goal of better education; the Arizona Commerce Authority, for job creation; The Nature Conservancy, for water, forests and open spaces; We Build Arizona, for infrastructure; St. Luke's Health Initiatives, for health care; Local First Arizona, for retaining young talent in the state; and Arizona Town Hall and Speak Out Arizona, for civic engagement and community involvement.

Coor also emphasized the importance of individual action, asking the attendees to join AZ Advocates and encourage fellow Verde Valley residents to question candidates about those goals.

"Voters can substantially change the atmosphere and attitude," he said. "Candidates listen to their constituents."

Copyright 2014 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: June 18, 2014

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