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Sun, Sept. 22

Supervisor candidates criticize Griffith, incumbents during forum in Golden Valley

Five candidates for three seats on the Mohave County Board of Supervisors were universal in their condemnation of county subsidies of the Griffith Energy Project while speaking out during a two-hour forum Tuesday in Golden Valley.

They criticized the current board majority of supervisors Buster Johnson and Jim Zaborsky for voting to spend millions of county dollars to build roads and other infrastructure for the power plant as well as committing 4,800 gallons of water per minute to cool turbines in the natural gas-fired plant.

They also indicated they would support abolishing the Mohave County Economic Development Authority, a county-funded, nonprofit organization that recruited Griffith and other controversial industries to the area near Griffith Road and Interstate 40 and other locations in the county.

However, Pete Byers, a Republican candidate for the District 1 seat, broke from the pack by saying the power plant may prove to be a good project that will infuse county coffers with property tax revenues.

He added that he would spare MCEDA if it became more accountable to the public.

Joe Tamberella, an independent from Golden Valley who is trying to unseat Johnson in the Nov.

7 general election, criticized his opponent for not attending the forum at the Golden Paradise Landowners Inc.

building.

Several of the 60 people in the audience applauded Tamberella throughout the forum.

Tamberella, Byers, District 1 Democratic candidate John Collins, District 2 Republican candidate Tom Sockwell and his Democratic challenger Jim Jones attended the forum, which was sponsored by the landowners group.

Absent were Johnson, District 2 independent candidate Jim Howell and independent candidates David Nelson Dreier and Randy Lyles of District 1.

Johnson's campaign manager, Conard Blevins, contacted at home after the forum, said Johnson had a prior commitment.

"Buster had a meeting scheduled," Blevins said.

The five candidates who attended gave opening and closing statements, and answered more than 15 questions that moderator Jack Hakim took from a hat or fielded from the floor.

Collins, a Kingman resident who is retired from a career with Southern California Edison, said he is running because he does not like how the supervisors are conducting county business.

Collins - who ran unopposed in the Sept.

12 Democratic primary - and Byers - who defeated two other Republican candidates - are running for the seat being vacated by Republican Supervisor Carol Anderson of Kingman.

The supervisors need to take a "new direction for fiscal responsibility," Collins said.

"We need responsible economic development....

We spent an awful lot of money for Griffith."

Byers, a real estate agent who lives in Kingman said, "You need to represent everybody, not just special interest groups."

Referring again to Griffith, he said, "We have been giving away the farm.

We can't do that."

Tamberella said he and Johnson, who was elected in 1996, hold vastly different views.

"He is a MCEDA backer 100 percent," Tamberella said.

Johnson is the only incumbent seeking re-election.

Jones, of Fort Mojave, and Sockwell, who lives in Bullhead City, are running for the seat being vacated by Republican Jim Zaborsky of Bullhead City.

The five candidates also fielded questions on county finances, employee pay and benefits, whether to raise sales and property taxes and other issues.

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