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Regional Politics

District 2 Republican candidates square off

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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The three Republican candidates vying for a shot at the Yavapai County District 2 Supervisor's seat faced off in a debate July 11 at Beaver Creek School.

The debate was sponsored by the Beaver Creek Regional Council and as such, many of the questions asked dealt specifically with issues of concern to the local community.

The candidates are Martin Pangburn of Dewey-Humboldt, a former employee of Del Webb and construction company owner who also has operated a ministry around the world; John McReynolds, a 35-year resident of Camp Verde who owns a local barbecue restaurant and served on the first Camp Verde Interim Town Council; and incumbent Tom Thurman, a contractor and former phone company employee who lives in Prescott.

Although Thurman is the incumbent, he's never represented the Beaver Creek area.

Because of increased population in Yavapai County counted in the 2010 census, the county is being split from three supervisor districts into five. The new District 2 stretches from Beaver Creek to Black Canyon City and splits up. the Verde Valley into different districts.

The winner of the Republican primary will face independent candidates Alan "Buck" Buchanan and Wild Wes Lance, as his name will appear on the ballot, in November.

Sense of Community

McReynolds said that while he lives in Camp Verde, he considers the relationship between that town and the Beaver Creek area as close as brothers and sisters.

Many of the same problems Camp Verde faced before incorporation, such as dealing with roads and other services, McReynolds said he sees the Beaver Creek area facing today. McReynolds said he can relate to the issues that face rural communities.

"I am rural, I've always liked rural and that's the way it should be," McReynolds said.

Pangburn said that even though he lives on the other side of the mountain, it doesn't feel any different to him.

"I feel like I am [local]," Pangburn said. "We're all from Yavapai County."

Thurman expressed a similar sentiment.

"It doesn't matter where you live," Thurman said. "It's up to the quality of who you're electing or hiring for that job."

Thurman tapped into a theme that became common as the debate went on and played up his experience in both government and Yavapai County in general.

"I have the experience, the power, the inside connections to do a lot of good for this neighborhood," Thurman said.

Issues Facing Unincorporated Areas

All three candidates agreed that the lack of jobs was the No. 1 issue facing the county's rural residents.

McReynolds said he knows it's hard to run a service industry and called for more efforts in economic development while keeping an eye toward environmentally friendly business practices.

Pangburn touched on protecting private property rights as one of his top priorities. Pangburn also said he wanted to work on attracting as many tech jobs and industries to the county as possible. Pangburn's plan would involve creating a task force within each community to help focus on this brand of economic development.

Lamenting the fact that many industries end up in Phoenix and Tucson, Pangburn said that "Yavapai County has come of age."

Thurman said that while he understands that some residents would rather not have any growth in an effort to keep things as they are, it's a recipe for economic disaster.

"With no tax base, being just a bedroom community doesn't do it," Thurman said.

Property Splitting

Many people in the community have expressed concern about "wildcat splitting" of property, splitting a property into as many as five separate lots without ensuring proper infrastructure exists to support that many lots as well as occasional failure to inform purchasers of potential issues.

McReynolds said he understands the problem this type of splitting can create, but he feels that property owners should be able to do whatever they want with their land as long as it's done responsibly and doesn't hurt anyone.

Pangburn said'there's not much that can be done immediately since wildcat splitting is permissible under current law. That's not to say Pangburn supports the practice, referring to some of the landowners as "wanna-be developers who act somewhat irresponsible."

Thurman said that a lot of the issue has to do with zoning rules and regulations, including some rights of landowners that have be grandfathered in.

Lake Montezuma Isolation

The bridge that crosses into Lake Montezuma is the primary way in and out of the community, which could pose serious problems if the bridge were to be destroyed in a flood.

McReynolds said another bridge would be a good idea, though expensive. In lieu of that, McReynolds advocated working to improve possible alternate routes on nearby U.S. Forest Service land.

Pangburn said the safety of the residents was his primary concern, adding that he's seen evidence the bridge is weakening and getting more dangerous every year. Pangburn called for dredging the creek to remove potential flood hazards to help prolong the life of the bridge.

Pangburn also advocated improving alternate routes that could connect to nearby 1-17.

Thurman said he understood the safety concerns completely and the issue has been discussed for at least 20 years. The biggest stumbling block, Thurman said, is money.

"The Legislature has cut our road funds in half to help solve their own problems," Thurman said.

Verde River

The U.S. Geological Survey spent lots of money and time to develop a computer groundwater model for the Verde River basin. The. model could show the effects planned pumping from the Big Chino Aquifer might have on the flows in the Verde River. The model is disputed, however, by groups not entirely certain of the accuracy of the model.

McReynolds said he feels that more research should definitely be carried out before the model is adopted. However, McReynolds also said that he feels like those criticizing the model in the Prescott area are concerned the model will favor the Verde Valley proponents of the model and that some of the criticism could be based on the fact the model may not benefit the Big Chino plan.

Pangburn said that there was not enough concrete information to start using the model on which to base policy.

Thurman said that Prescott and Prescott Valley had hired an outside group to look for criticisms of the model, many of them former USGS scientists.

Thurman said that the USGS was in the process of reviewing the criticism and that waiting a few more months to investigate the model more carefully wouldn't hurt anybody.

"I am rural, I've always liked rural, and that's the way it should he."

John McReynolds

Republican Yavapai County District 2 Candidate

Copyright 2012 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: July 18, 2012

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