6 candidates vying to replace retiring Mohave County Supervisor Gary Watson
Updated as of Friday, July 31, 2020 10:48 AM
KINGMAN – Six candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for District 1 Mohave County Supervisor in the Tuesday, Aug. 4 Arizona primary election.
They’re vying to fill the seat being vacated by the retirement of Gary Watson, who served three four-year terms representing the Kingman-area district.
The position is a four-year term. The salary is $67,800 per year. The winner will run unopposed in the November election.
The candidates submitted answers to the following questions from the Kingman Miner. They were asked to limit their answers to 80 words.
What makes you the best candidate for serving on the Mohave County Board of Supervisors?
Becky Foster: Like President Reagan, I am a former Democrat who always had conservative values. I am the only candidate with experience as a County Supervisor; I am a proven leader and I have earned a reputation for providing excellent representation, researching issues, asking hard questions and making sure all sides are heard before decisions are made. I worked very well with Republican members on the Board in the past. As a Reagan Republican I’ll work well with a new Board.
Jim Hamersley: The only candidate who has 25 years executive leadership for private and publicly traded, global organizations; 12 years public leadership service experience (local/county/state levels); Finance/budget management background in excess of $400M; Saved thousands to millions of dollars implementing performance-based strategies and best business practices, improving quality of service, and combining like services between public agencies (and private, when applicable); 10 to 12 years of public safety, public works, community development, procurement technology background; United people to common visions-goals-objectives.
Gerarda Hamodey: I am a Constitutionalist Conservative Republican who has earned a Juris Doctorate (Law Degree) and a Master’s Degree in Communication and Culture. I also have over 30 years’ experience in Law and Business. I am for less tax and less government.
My platform includes better roads for the people in Mohave County, Economic Development, Water Sustainability and Management, bringing a full Veteran’s Center to Kingman, promoting Apprenticeships, Internship programs and higher education, neighborhood revitalization, etc.
Travis Lingenfelter – As Kingman Vice Mayor, I’ve gotten the “big things” done. Putting the Airport & Industrial Park on a new path of growth, completing Kingman Crossing and Rancho Santa Fe Development Agreements, securing $20 million in State funding for the Rancho transportation project, fighting to protect our water from Maricopa County cities and unsustainable commercial farming, working with Senator Borrelli towards a new veterans center, advocating for small businesses, defending our constitutional rights and personal liberties, and fully funding law enforcement.
Sherri Merriwether – I live in District 1. I am a realtor here in town and am acutely aware of concerns the property owners and tax payers have that live in District 1. I am not a politician with political ambitions. I have always had my own business and owned my own home. I hope to focus on the important issues facing our District which will improve our neighborhoods and increase business opportunities.
Tim Woods – Dependability - I get jobs done. Integrity- When I say something, I mean it. There is no hidden meaning. Decision Making - I look at all sides and try to figure unintended consequences. I will represent all citizens of Mohave County. Compassion - As a practicing Christian I always look to do the most moral view as possible, while practicing the rule of law. My experience in Agriculture, Railroad transportation, energy development, and the public sector in organizing the Mohave County Fair.
Has the board of supervisors and the Mohave County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) done a good job responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and what more, if anything, should be done?
Hamersley – Mohave County Board of Supervisors (MCBOS) and MCDPH collaborated with local/regional/state leaders and health officials to keep the community informed, worked with area hospitals/healthcare facilities on surge planning, and delivered PPE to local hospitals and tribes. Poor decisions were made at the state levels without any consultation with local leaders or business owners resulting in a fragmented response to stay-at-home, closing/reopening orders causing confusion, concern, anxiety, and significant revenue & job loss. Timeliness was lacking, communication was poor, messaging wasn’t clear and consistent, & standards weren’t applied consistently across business sectors.
Hamodey – In March and April, some in the Board and the Health Department did not respond fast enough in recommending CDC guidelines and in the voluntary wearing of masks. I received a call in April from fast food workers in Kingman who wanted to wear masks and were denied the choice by employers. I called Mohave County Environmental Health and the Kingman supervisor stated he wouldn’t act in anything preventive until there was a transmission and then they would step in.
Lingenfelter – All elected leaders are in a tough situation as they continue with best efforts to balance our constitutional freedoms, local small business interests, and public health concerns – no easy feat. Small opportunities bringing cities in a little tighter in their support roles may exist, but overall I think that the BOS and Public Health are doing a good job and have tried as best as they can to keep all stakeholders close on a daily or weekly basis.
Merriwether – I think Kingman is doing a fine job with regard to the pandemic.
Woods – They have done a great job! This virus hit hard and fast, there were no instruction manuals. They were having deal with everchanging information, most times on a daily basis. They endured constant, and withering criticism. Denise Burley and her staff have put in thousands of hours to protect everyone in Mohave County the best they can. I implore people to make their personal decisions on how to protect themselves and their family, and then respect the decisions of other people.
Foster – While the Health Department has done a good job disseminating daily information regarding the number of cases and deaths in each area of the County, percentages of the population affected in each area should be reported. Without that context, it unnecessarily scares the public. I have concerns regarding perhaps purposeful misdiagnoses of Covid-19 when there are underlying conditions; especially given that there are reportedly monetary incentives that accompany a case or death deemed caused by Covid-19.
Do you support uranium mining in Mohave County, and should the ban on mining near the Grand Canyon be lifted?
Hamodey – I do not support uranium mining in Mohave County because of the high risks of contamination to the underground water basins and sub-basins, contamination to the Colorado River and the risk to people’s health arising out of radioactive contamination. The ban on mining near the Grand Canyon should not be lifted for the same reasons of water contamination, the risk to people’s health, and because the lands are sacred to Tribal Nations in the areas in the Grand Canyon.
Lingenfelter – Our current BOS voted in support of uranium mining in February. As prior Mohave County Economic Development Director, I worked with a prior Board on this issue of uranium mining in 2010-2012. I believe every area desires good paying jobs in order to lift residents out of poverty, and you have to work with what you have. Mining and tourism present future opportunities. I’d work closely with leaders and residents on the Arizona Strip on such important economic development issues.
Merriwether – Yes I support mining in all forms and would support lifting the Grand Canyon ban. We need to do all we can to produce everything we can right here at home.
Woods – A uranium mining ban was implemented during the Obama administration. There are eleven years left on this ban. The largest concentration of uranium in the continental United States is in the Arizona strip. I support mining in Mohave County as one of the cornerstones of our economy. Uranium mining is strictly regulated by the Federal Government, and mining technology has improved to the point of amazing conservation of the mining site.
Foster – The ban was placed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Washington swamp often makes decisions based on false narratives that are far removed from reality. Although uranium is crucial to our national defense, energy and medical field, the decision should not be made in a vacuum in the D.C. swamp. It should be made in consultation with residents of the area and based on facts. The Board changed the General Plan without meeting with residents.
Hamersley – 20-year moratorium on uranium mining in AZ expires in 2022. A complete, transparent investigation outlining the pros/cons of lifting the moratorium is necessary before taking any action. Uranium mining could yield significant economic benefits to the region in the form of higher paying jobs and revenue to local governments but uranium mining can only be considered a community success if it safeguards the environment, resources, beauty, the health and well-being of the citizens of Mohave County, and the AZ/CA water users downstream.
What would you do as a county supervisor to protect the county’s underground water supply?
Lingenfelter – I will defend against Queen Creek’s current attempt to buy entitlement of 2,083 acre-feet of Colorado River water (about 678 million gallons) for a one-time payment of $21 million. It negatively impacts future of our river communities and sets a horrible precedent for outsiders scouting for inexpensive water. I would also support Rep. Cobb in her continued push for new locally-controlled water tools to assist Mohave County and Kingman achieve water resiliency and sustainability of our Hualapai Valley Sub-Basin.
Merriwether – To begin with I would put the Butler area on public sewer. The THOUSANDS of septics in the North Kingman area are leaching into our ground water supply. This is being grossly over looked.
Woods – This is in the top five issues in my campaign. The very first requirement is to have the best information that we can get. We cannot make good decisions without good information. Implementing the retention areas to trap runoff water from the mountains in a geological area that allows water to be introduced quickly into the aquafer. There are a total of eleven of these retention areas identified. This constitutes a solution rather that litigation and legislation.
Foster – Foremost, I respect private property rights and won’t support a “solution” that has unintended consequences for residential water users. I will protect our water resources in a manner consistent with law, utilizing a variety of tools including zoning and meaningful legislation. While the Hualapai Basin is reportedly being drained at a high rate, there are over one million acre feet in Kingman’s sub basin; the City uses less than 10,000 acre feet annually with roughly half recycled back through the sewer system.
Hamersley – Plan now, monitor the aquifer, and act accordingly. Water is an extremely valuable resource, but is renewable, not finite. We need strategic, tech-savvy representatives on the Governor’s committees… people who understand the issues. Using my water and wastewater technology background, I would work with stakeholders to change the law to immediately preserve/recharge Mohave County’s ground water. Continue to implement/enhance the Mohave County drainage master plan – focusing on storm water collection, groundwater infiltration, dry well systems, etc. – putting water back into the aquifer.
Hamodey – I would work closely with the Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona Department of Water Resources in monitoring the current and future levels of the basins and sub-basins and working on strategies for future water demands. I would also work together with the City of Kingman in improving waste water reclamation programs. Both of their treatment plants treat approximately 1,950,000 gallons daily. I am against HB2895 and HB2896 because they infringe upon regular people’s property and water rights.
Should the board of supervisors dissolve the TV taxing district, which taxes all county property owners to provide free television to some county residents?
Merriwether – Yes, I would rather see this tax used to provide Trash Tranfer stations. I think this can be done by having the local garbage service companies bid on providing this service. My hope is that this will help cut down on the dumping throughout the county.
Woods – There are certain FCC regulations that require accessibility to emergency broadcasting. Over the air broadcasts provide free TV programs to our citizens that cannot afford cable or satellite. I support the TV taxing district.
Foster – If the voters/taxpayers want to dissolve it, they should. It has historically provided an essential service to people who live in remote areas. With the advent of satellite television, that service is not as heavily utilized or as crucial as it used to be. Any decision on dissolution must be fully supported by taxpayers and be legally sound. In the event of a dissolution, any overtaxing by the County for the past two decades should be refunded to the taxpayers.
Hamersley – No. The Television district provides rural areas with extremely low-cost access to television including the Emergency Alert Broadcasting system (property owners pay roughly $1.25 per month to the district). From an economic development standpoint, the TV district is beneficial because cities and the County can promote free access to television to tourists and winter visitors using RVs. It is a very low-cost, value-added service that provides television coverage to most all regions of the county, enhancing our quality of life.
Hamodey – Yes, I believe the Board of Supervisors should dissolve the TV District. There are many people who do not receive any transmission of any channels and still pay taxes for this service. An example is the Santa Fe Ranch Property Association which stated that 2700 of its members live outside Yucca and do not get reception. The County spent in 2019, $728,787 and it is projected to spend in 2020, $1,118.556. This is a waste of tax payers’ money!
Lingenfelter – I wouldn’t dissolve the TV taxing district, because I know its how a lot of elderly and vulnerable people obtain their information. However, I think it’s always a good idea for government entities to maximize innovative ideas available through the private sector. I’d like to comprehensively analyze the issue and look for ways to utilize the public procurement process to bring improvements. That is one tried-and-true way to run government like a business. Never be satisfied with your previous best.
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