Candidates Respond

KINGMAN - The Miner recently sent out a questionnaire to all the candidates running for county offices. Each candidate was asked to respond to three questions: What do you think qualifies you for this office? Why should someone vote for you? What will be your top three priorities if elected to office.

The responses of 15 of the candidates ran in last Sunday's Miner. The remaining four are running here.

The Miner did not place a word limit on the candidates' responses to the questions although some were edited due to space constraints.

The date of Arizona's primary this year is Sept. 2.

Voters will need a photo ID, such as an Arizona driver's license, in order to get a ballot. Or a voter may show two forms of non-photo ID, such as two different utility bills with the voter's name and current address.

The address on the ID must match the voter registration record, otherwise, voters will receive a provisional ballot.

For more information on voter registration or to find out where your polling place is, contact the Mohave County Voter Registration Office at (928) 753-0767.

Treasurer

Lee Fabrizio(R)

I have a background of 27 years of FBI service with an emphasis in complex fraud investigations, where I was trained to track money and investments. I am a past squad supervisor with the FBI in Chicago. I have been treasurer for four years and was elected president of an association of Arizona state treasurers in my second year.

I am also a member of the Government Investments Officer's Association and the Government Finance Officer's Association.

I've helped pass legislation that allowed treasurers to conduct tax lien sales online. I was the first to do so in the state of Arizona.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Zoology, a Master of Science in Criminal Justice and a doctorate in Public Policy Analysis, which clearly speaks to my capabilities to tackle any issues that may confront the treasurer.

My integrity, experience and education speak for themselves. I've implemented innovated programs that have increased the amount of taxes being collected by the Treasurer's Office. I've brought the office closer to being what a modern Treasurer's Office should be.

I've reduced the number of bad checks the county accepts with our new bad check program. I've collected on old (dead-beat) delinquent parcels ($500,000 to date), and I've implemented the countywide e-check, credit card and ACH program so that taxpayers can more easily pay their bills.

I've also completed implementation of the lockbox at our banking institution allowing us to process tax bills more efficiently. Payments will be processed in less than one week, and collected revenue will be invested earlier, resulting in more interest earned.

I've also invested the county's money wisely and safely, as we have always done.

This year, we earned more than $8 million on your money (more than $4 million more than ever before), saving more than $160 per household. This is borne out on the State Auditor's report.

1. Continue to invest the county's money wisely and safely, as we have always done.

2. Implement a countywide e-check, credit card, and ACH program so that taxpayers can more easily pay their bills.

3. Implement more online tax bill business processing. In the future, we will employ a "shopping cart" technology, such as used by most online businesses so that citizens can access and pay their bills more conveniently, while concurrently improving our tax bill payment computer system and the online environment.

Melissa Havatone(R)

I have taken courses with Mohave Community College in accounting and supervising.

I have had numerous credits with government training in human resource and management/leadership skills. I plan to continue my education with MCC.

During my last two years in high school, I worked my way into the management team with McDonald's restaurants. This taught me the importance of customer service.

I bring 24 years of knowledge and experience to the Mohave County Treasurer's Office and have worked in all divisions of the Treasurer's Office. I know the functions of each department and the cash flow from when the tax bill is paid to the distribution of monies to the different entities on your tax bill.

I have balanced the bank reconciliation and overseen the cash flow of deposits, expenses, wires, investment maturities, purchases and anything that affects our bank for more than 15 years.

My specialty is tax rates, calculation of tax bills and property tax adjustments. The Treasurer's Office is mandated by Arizona Revised Statutes and I am knowledgeable as to which statutes apply to the Treasurer's Office. I am proud and honored to say that Dora Goodmiller has endorsed me for this position.

I offer you 24 years of knowledge of the Treasurer's Office, experience and strong leadership skills, which are greatly needed in the office. I have always had pride in my work and have always been readily available for the employees when help is needed.

The Treasurer's Office reputation will be rebuilt by the team from within and once again have that friendly service, hardworking, respected atmosphere for our customers.

It has always been my desire to be your Mohave County treasurer. I worked under two professional ladies and Mohave County treasurers, Grace Marlow and Dora Goodmiller. These ladies set a working example in which their courage inspired me.

My primary issue is to restore, renew and rebuild the Treasurer's Office. I plan to restore good work ethics and rebuild the trust of the employees so that, once again, we will be a solid team. I will bring back pride, professionalism and accountability for our work within the Treasurer's Office.

Those who come in contact with the Treasurer's Office will be treated with respect and will be given our world-class customer service. Respect, integrity and strong work ethics will be our core values within the office.

I will make it one of my top priorities to regain the trust of the taxpayers. Phones will not be placed on voicemail during tax season. Employees will be trained properly to eliminate embarrassment to the taxpayers and county.

As your treasurer, I will get involved with the day-to-day work, cash flow, delinquent taxes and other areas within the Treasurer's Office.

I will attend legislative sessions regarding tax statutes or items pertaining to tax collections.

I will also re-evaluate the closing of the Lake Havasu and Bullhead City offices. With your vote, I offer you strong work ethics and will be your working treasurer for Mohave County.

Assessor

Ron Nicholson(R)

Mine is a profession requiring at least 15 years prolonged academic training and formal qualification.

I have the following assessment experience: I have served in the Mohave County Assessor's Office for 15 years and worked my way up through the ranks; three years as a field appraiser with state certifications in the appraisal of residential, commercial and land properties; eight years as chief deputy assessor for Beverly Payne; more than 2,000 hours of assessment classes; served two years as the president of the Arizona State Assessor's Association; four years as Mohave County assessor; two years as the co-host of the State Tax Conference; and I am one demonstration appraisal away from becoming the first assessor in the state to earn the CAE international appraisal designation.

Mine has been a lifetime involvement in the real estate industry as a title/escrow officer, county title manager, mortgage banker and 20 years as the owner of a California real estate brokerage. I have a business degree in real estate and finance, and I have occupied managerial positions for more than 40 years.

All truly meaningful change in tax assessment is going to have to happen at the state Legislature by changing law. I have been an active, successful tax assessment lobbyist for 12 years, and I have lobbied more than 15 bills into law that have benefited Mohave County residents.

This year, it was Mohave County's Residential 40 Acre Bill which reduced residential homeowners' taxes.

I sit on the government committees of four Mohave County chamber of commerces and participate in intergovernmental coalitions, economic conferences and maintain close relationships with our Realtors.

The assessor must stay informed so as to respond quickly to changing markets.

I have spent the last four years attending conferences and taking classes in Geographical Information Systems and the latest technological advances in our industry. Continuing education is required in order to make the best decisions. I consider myself amply qualified for this job.

I am an assessment professional with 12 years of proven assessment management experience, professional designations and a lifetime of real estate and assessment education with 15 years serving the residents of Mohave County.

Under my leadership, the Assessor's Office has modernized technologically to the 21st century with a new GIS Internet mapping and valuation system. In today's world, change is constant, and I intend to keep up with it. Residents can view the results on our county Web site.

During my term in office, I lowered the overall assessment level of the county from 86 percent to 74 percent, the lowest permissible by law, saving taxpayers countless dollars. This year, responding quickly to the current market, we lowered all stick-built homes an average of 15 percent, all commercial properties 3 percent and worked to capture downward trends in land. This market is still going south, and I am committed to lowering values in lockstep with it.

We have created a friendlier and more forgiving culture with regard to constituent appeals of their property values. I was instrumental in the passage of the Senior Freeze Bill and doubling the qualification parameters for our widows, widowers and disabled. I will continue to lobby tax relief programs for our seniors.

Finally, I consider myself a taxpayer advocate. I was an advisor to Arizona Tax Revolt for three years. I believe in limitations on property tax and will endeavor to break the direct relationship between the amount of taxes one pays and increases in valuations.

I am not an armchair assessor. I go where the property is and where the people reside. I have served 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 12 years, and I wish to continue serving.

1. I am committed to continued GIS development. GIS technology is changing our world. Someday very soon, a resident will pull up our Web mapping, click their parcel and literally have available to them weather, tax information, zoning, health issues, all recorded information, assessor information and all the information in the world that could conceivably impact their lives.

This will all be made possible through a team effort by the county's Information Technology, Public Works and Assessor's Cartography departments and the GIS coordinator.

Nine years ago, Senator Binder, Joan McCall and I lobbied a funding bill through the Legislature that made all this possible.

2. Three years ago, we ended a 12-year nationwide search and purchased a new Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal System. Our staff has worked with the vendors for the last three years to modify this off-the-shelf valuation system to make it Arizona-compliant. It has been a magnificent effort on the staff's part.

We have been so successful that six other Arizona counties have bought our system and more are following.

Our new challenge in 2010 will be to go to yet another updated version. We need to keep up with new technologies and not be left behind. This new version will be free. It was part of our original contract. The forthcoming new technologies will require an able, experienced administrator to enable smooth transitions. I believe I fit those qualifications.

3. I have legislative goals that I wish to follow through with that will benefit my constituents such as reasonable and prudent limitations on property taxes that will divorce tax increases from value increases.

Please remember, the county is not the issue, Proposition 101 took care of that.

Other legislative goals are expansion on the limitation on Arizona widow's exemptions, proper mobile home valuation, further decreases of commercial assessments and the continuation of the technology fund that has made all this possible. All will require an experienced lobbyist, one that has a proven record. I would like the opportunity to complete what I have started.

This is an amazing new world we are entering. It is one that requires a myriad of new skills and a proven record of being willing to adapt to change. I want to continue to be a part of it.

Sheriff

Tom Sheahan(R)

I have been a career law enforcement officer with more than 36 years of experience, 27 years with the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, and am in my 12th year as Mohave County sheriff.

I am a graduate of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command in Evanston, Ill., and also attended and graduated from the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Va.

I dedicate my wealth of experience, training and education on a daily basis as the chief law enforcement officer of the fifth largest county in the nation to the safety and welfare of our citizens. I am very proud of my relationships with other law enforcement officials and administrators, not only in our county but also throughout the state of Arizona.

I believe I am highly qualified for the office of sheriff, and the support that I have had from the many communities in Mohave County has been overwhelming, not only in my elections but throughout my entire time as sheriff.

I have worked very hard to provide our citizens with a law enforcement agency that is efficient, effective and one we can all be proud of.

I have started several new volunteer programs, the Sheriff's Volunteer Posse and Boating Safety Officer program.

Also, we have the finest search and rescue unit in the state. They are called upon many times throughout the year, risking their lives and their own personal vehicles and equipment for the benefit of our citizens and visitors.

I have obtained, with the assistance of a great staff, many millions of dollars in grant funding to keep Mohave County lakes, the Colorado River and highways safe.

The Sheriff's Office has led the fight on the sale and use of methamphetamine in Mohave County.

I have directed the use of jail inmate labor throughout the entire county for charitable and community service projects.

I expanded the Sheriff's Office K-9 Program to five, fully trained and equipped K-9s and deputy sheriff handlers. The K-9 teams are trained in handler protection, building searches, narcotic and explosive detection. Our K-9 units have assisted all law enforcement agencies in Mohave County.

The major issues are illegal immigration and methamphetamine. Much of the meth is being produced in Mexico and being smuggled by illegal immigrants in backpacks coming over the border and also in vehicles with hidden compartments. Very few meth labs are operating in Arizona because of the unavailability of large quantities of ephedrine, the main component of Sudafed. All of the components, and many others, are readily available in Mexico. That is one of the reasons our border must be sealed.

The other is the drain on the U.S. economy. Illegals have a tremendous negative impact on our health-care systems, crime, costs of incarceration and education. If the federal government fails to do its job and protect us from this problem, I feel it is the job of local law enforcement to take on this major challenge.

In 2003, 6,900 prisoners were booked into the county jail system. In 2007, 10,500 prisoners were booked into the system. Growth has brought us many new businesses, jobs and opportunities. There have been many positives. Unfortunately, growth also brings additional crime, drugs and social problems.

That's were law enforcement steps in. As the new county jail will begin construction next month, also in the works are new sheriff's offices with jail-holding facilities in Lake Havasu City and Mohave Valley. I look forward to working with the new Board of Supervisors in January 2009 to move forward with construction of these badly needed facilities.

It has been an honor to serve our citizens as the sheriff of Mohave County for the past 12 years, and I look forward to serving them for the next four years.

Everyday, the job of sheriff is very challenging but also very rewarding. Law enforcement is the career path I chose in 1971 and continue to this day. I thank the citizens of Mohave County for giving me this opportunity.