English and McDiarmid square off for countyBy Shar Porier
Wick News Service
BISBEE — In a matter of weeks, the District 2 county Board of Supervisor’s seat will be determined by voters and will indicate if they have been happy with the performance of the incumbent, Ann English.
English, a Democrat, is competing with Republican Steven McDiarmid for the seat and, based on the primary election results, it appears she has the lead with 2,718 votes to 2,046, which would increase if the 767 votes that went to Democrat Jeff Harris go to her. However, the general election is sure to bring out more voters due to the Presidential race.
One of the issues that voters across the state will determine come Nov. 6 is the establishment of a permanent one-cent state sales tax to fund education and other services, which would replace the temporary one currently in place. English supports the tax, while McDiarmid opposes.
English says, "I believe that education should be a priority by the legislature when it creates a budget. Citizens are frustrated when they see that the legislature continues to act as though money is not the reason schools are not performing as well as they would like for them to perform. This situation causes the citizens to look for ways to enhance the educational funding stream to make us more competitive with other states. However, this solution will not and should not change the necessity for the legislature to act on the rhetoric of saying education is their priority. You fund what is important to you. We should continue to look to the legislature to adopt a budget with education as a priority."
McDiarmid says, "The one-cent permanent sales tax referendum is not what I would go along with. The state’s revenue has been increasing from all sources and with the trimming of departments and programs, it will not be needed. If the state doesn’t live within their means or a special project is wanted, then the voters can decide at that time. The tax would not go to just schools, so what it would help is in question. The combined sales tax here is 11.9 percent. Adding the 25- to 30-percent of income tax and the tax burden is getting up there."
Water in the county is also an important issue, though much of the emphasis has been on the Sierra Vista subwatershed, some of which the District 2 supervisor represents. But what about the other areas of the county, which include the Douglas and San Bernardino basins?
The candidates were asked: Do you think more should be done in District 2 to raise awareness of water conservation methods for residents outside the subwatershed? Do you see the cone of depression near Elfrida as a harbinger of future water supply problems for residents?
English responded, "We live in the desert and water is vital to our existence. Conservation of water and other natural resources is a concern to all of us. It is difficult to get the public or government to act until a definite problem has been identified. The USDA is helping farmers county-wide to adopt conservation of water in farming.
"You no longer see water running off a field and down the roadway ditches. These changes save water and money for capturing the water. The county is working with the Arizona Department of Water Resources to determine if there are areas of the county where water availability has changed. Sustained drought has certainly been a factor for the past few years and has had an effect on the water table. We will be posting maps and information for the public so they can make informed decisions about water usage.
"Will we be making regulations? Depends on the information we are given and the severity of the problem. Will we be making suggestions? Yes, we will have information available as we do now about the necessity of water conservation."
McDiarmid replied: "I have talked to long-time well drillers in this area and the well depths have stayed somewhat consistent around Douglas, with the exceptions of Elfrida and some of the canyons. The water table has been helped by a great reduction in crop growth, building and more rain. We have been in a long drought and rain is what is needed. Help for Elfrida could be from resurrecting Rucker lake and dam and pipe it to Elfrida. Rucker could be a recreation boom again."
With virtually all revenues flat or seeing very slight gains, the candidates talked about the ideas they will bring to the table in 2013.
English determined that the county plan should be the blueprint for the supervisors’ actions and budget for the next five years.
"Every decision should be weighed against the plan. If we need to make adjustments, then we should change the plan so the public will know our priorities," she said. "The Cochise County Strategic Plan is posted on our website. All of our training for employees will be based upon creating a knowledgeable, efficient team to meet the needs of the public as established in the plan."
McDiarmid said he will focus on jobs and business opportunities.
"This could come in the form of updating the Bisbee Douglas International Airport and the immediate area to attract new or expanding business and be ready for a future commercial Port of Entry in Douglas," he said. "The traveling public would like to see water runoff improvements on Davis Rd. During the rainy season this road can be dangerous with the large amounts of standing water on it. I would also just lend an ear to hear what might be problems or solutions to help the county."
Both have been campaigning around the massive district that stretches up from the Mexican border to parts of Huachuca City and Sierra Vista to Douglas and the New Mexico line, up the Chiricahua Mountains to Paradise and Portal and down to Elfrida and Tombstone. New district boundaries had to be formed when the results of the 2010 census were reported, which created a larger area for District 2