Constituents put faces with names during GOP event

GOLDEN VALLEY - Residents attending the Republican Candidate Meet and Greet in Golden Valley Saturday saw some familiar faces among the candidates at the meeting, such as County Assessor Ron Nicholson and County Treasurer Melissa Havatone, who are each running for another term.

Nicholson said he has been serving the county in the Assessor's Office for the last 20 years and this is one of the worst housing markets he has seen. He attempted to control the damage by trying to keep assessment values as low as the state will allow him.

This presented a challenge to taxing districts, which have to raise their tax rates in order to collect the funds they need to operate, Nicholson said.

He also said that he is pushing the Legislature to return to a 1996 law that required counties to value, assess and tax property all within the same year, instead of the current regulations which use market data from nearly two years ago to assess properties.

Nicholson promised to keep on top of the market changes if re-elected.

Havatone also gave an update on the situation in the Treasurer's Office and her plans to improve the office in the new year. She wants to bring the office into the current electronic times with e-billing and allow residents to use credit cards to pay their taxes at the office windows.

She also wants to bring all of the processing of tax bills back into the Treasurer's Office. The office used to process the payments in-house, but switched to a lock-box system where the payments are sent to a lock box at a bank, which processes the and then sends them to the county. Havatone said she believes she has the staff and with some new equipment, her office should, once again, be able to process those payments in-house.

Rep. Nancy McLain also attended the meeting and said she was exploring the idea of running for Sen. Ron Gould's seat in the Arizona Senate, but has not officially announced she is running.

She has a year left on her term in the House. According to state statute, McLain would have to resign her seat in the Arizona House of Representatives in order to run for the seat now, but if she waits until the election year, she will not have to resign.

"I've learned a lot during my service in House. I would hate to see that experience go to waste," she said.

State Senate Candidate Sam Scarmardo from Lake Havasu City also spoke to the crowd.

He is a 24-year resident of Mohave County and owns Sam's Shooters Emporium. He has two degrees in finance and one in accounting, he said.

He has served as a Republican Committeeman for 38 years and has served on the Lake Havasu City Council as acting mayor and vice mayor.

Scarmardo pledged to never vote for a tax increase and never vote for a bill he hasn't read.

Dr. Kelli Ward, who is also running for state senate, was not able to attend the event but sent a representative with a video message.

In the message Ward pointed out that there are no doctors serving in the Senate and healthcare is a large part of the state budget. A doctor would be able to guide the Senate to make better choices in healthcare cuts and deal with the complex problems of healthcare.

Two candidates, Wyatt Brooks and George Schnittgrund, who are running for the Arizona House of Representatives also spoke at the meeting.

"I am ready, willing and able to represent the needs of the county at the state," Brooks said. Arizona has been a major leader in illegal immigration reform and gun rights, and Brooks wanted to keep that momentum going.

He moved to the area in 1995 and has served the community as a volunteer and a full-time firefighter at various local departments. He has also served as Boy Scout and Cub Scout leader and with the Red Cross during Katrina.

Brooks also runs his own business. He pledged to take action and be involved in the community.

George Schnittgrund is also a former volunteer firefighter. He moved to Lake Havasu City 10 years ago and has served as a Republican Precinct Committeeman. He also owns his own business.

As a business owner he knows how to squeeze a budget, he said. He pledged to cut unnecessary programs to fund budget cuts and he would never vote for a tax increase.

"SB 1070 (the illegal immigration bill passed by the Legislature two years ago) was a good start. Now we need to cut off illegal immigrant's access to taxpayer programs," Schnittgrund said.

Steven Robinson, the chair for District 2 of the Republican Central Committee, said the committee plans to hold more meet and greet candidate sessions in various locations throughout the year.