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Fri, Nov. 15

Field of political candidates crowded for 2002 election <br>

Katie bar the doors, the politicians are coming and there are a bunch of them. Due to the redrawing of congressional and legislative districts the number of candidates vying for seats in the ’02 elections will be a record. With Gov. Jane D. Hull retiring, her office is up for grabs and the number of would-be governors keeps increasing. Williams and northern Arizona is in the cross-hairs of what is sure to be a high-stakes well-financed campaign with national consequences.

Let’s start with the governor’s race. At last count 13 candidates have thrown their hats into the ring. Republicans and Democrats are coming out of the woodwork with promises galore. Both major parties want to win this race and money from outside the state is already on the way. The Bush White House has targeted it, as one of the six key gubernatorial races in the nation.

Then we have the new Congressional District 1; which includes Williams and geographically nearly one-half of the state of Arizona. With the rapid growth of Arizona, the state gained two new congressional districts. District 1 covers a huge area, bigger then most states. It has been labeled “the rural district,” with dozens of small and mid-size communities within its borders. The candidates will struggle to get to all the towns located within District 1. The district is 44 percent Democratic, 36 percent GOP, and 20 percent other. Both parties consider the race winnable. Both parties will help finance the race with out-of-state money.

Sixteen candidates are running for this new seat. They include democratic George Cordova, Fred DuVal, Roger Hartstone, Sam Martinez, who all list Flagstaff as home, Debora Norris from Casa Grande, Diane Prescott from Cottonwood, Steve Udall from St. Johns and Derrick Watchman from Window Rock.

Republican candidates are Alan Everett from Prescott, Sydey Ann Hay from Munds Park, Rick Renzi from Flagstaff, David Stafford from Globe, Lewis Tenney from Heber and Bruce Whiting from Payson. Libertarian candidates are Andy Fernandez from Flagstaff and Edwin Porr from Parks. They have the numbers to form their own baseball team. It will be a challenge to decide who to vote for in the September primary election.

Confused Yet? Williams is also in a new Arizona legislative district. We are no longer included with Flagstaff, but have instead been thrown in with Prescott, Sedona, the Verde Valley and a bunch of other towns. Flagstaff is not happy with the new districts and most of the rest of us are confused. We will have a big group of new names from which to choose. No more Verkamp in the Senate. New names, new faces have emerged. Democratic candidates include Robert Donahue of Cornville, Dawn Knight of Prescott or John O’Donnell of Cottonwood. On the Republican side it is Ken Bennett of Prescott.

For the State House of Representatives Democratic candidate Henry Carnarot of Prescott is running. The Republicans have Lucy Mason of Prescott, Tom O’Halleran of Sedona and Thom Strawn of Prescott. The only name most of us recognize is Tom O’Halleran.

What are some of the issues we will all be hearing about? Here is a short list-- education, uncontrolled growth, water, child welfare and terrorism prevention.

Let’s not forget that we should have several referendums on the ballot. The Indian gaming issue alone promises to be one where wheelbarrows of money will be spent to influence your vote. If you haven’t received a phone call yet on this, be prepared.

Let’s hope that the leaders of our community get to know those who will be deciding the future of our nation and state. If we could only figure out who will win ahead of time it would sure make this task easier. We wish well to all the candidates and hope that mudslinging is not part of the ’02 election process.

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