Voters in the White Mountains will receive early ballots in the mail on Aug. 3 or go to the polls Aug. 30 for the primary election. They will be charged with choosing candidates for Congressional District 1 and U.S. Senate, among other races on the statewide, county and municipal levels.
The White Mountain Independent hopes all voters will exercise their right to vote and makes the following recommendations:
The Republican primary for Congressional District 1 has a crowded field of candidates, including a few who have questionable claims of living in the district.
The list includes Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, former Arizona Senate President and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, current Arizona House Speaker David Gowan, businessman and rancher Gary Kiehne, businessman Shawn Redd and former Lt. Col. Wendy Rogers.
District 1 sprawls over 58,000 square miles through 11 of the state’s 15 counties, contains seven national forests and is home to 12 Native American tribes. The rural district is home to many of the industries that the state’s economy was built on — from agriculture, mining and manufacturing to retail and tourism. The voter registration in CD1 makes it one of the more competitive districts in the country.
The 1st District needs someone to champion policy to protect our forests, build jobs by using natural resources and encouraging tourism and to fight regulation that could close three of the area’s power plants.
Gary Kiehne is that champion. A Springerville native with residences in Eagar and Casa Grande, Kiehne has private sector experience in ranching, oil and gas, trucking and the hotel industry. He understands the issues rural Arizona is facing because he has experienced them.
During this election cycle, Gowan embarrassed himself by misusing state resources. And twice over the last year, Babeu has been questioned for his department’s use of RICO funds.
While working at a general store, an employee of this newspaper witnessed Kiehne give his truck and trailer to a complete stranger at a moment’s notice because that person’s horses needed to be moved immediately from a pasture 50-some miles away and he had no other means to do it.
When Kiehne thought nobody was watching, he did the right thing.
On the other hand, while they thought nobody was looking, Gowan and Babeu likely made questionable decisions. And aside from their credentials, that’s what sets them apart.
Kiehne is authentic and exemplifies the kind of representative the state’s rural district needs. For that reason, we recommend you vote for Gary Kiehne.
The Democrats have only two candidates on the ballot and White Mountain resident James Maloney, who initially sought the office, is no longer one of them. Former police officer and Arizona Rep. Tom O’Halleran is facing Morenci resident Miguel Olivas. O’Halleran hopes to improve quality of life for veterans and reform education and has a long list of endorsements. Therefore, The Independent endorses O’Halleran.
Four Republican challengers, including one write-in candidate, are facing incumbent Sen. John McCain. The most notable challenger, a medical doctor and former state senator, Kelli Ward, is running as the anti-establishment candidate who vows to be tough on illegal immigration and believes Arizona needs new leadership. Ward claims Arizonans are “looking for someone who will represent them and their interests.”
We believe that person is John McCain. Over the years, he has fought for Arizona and the vital issues facing the White Mountains.
He understood the importance of the Apache Railway to the area and stressed to Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsick that much of Snowflake’s economic future hinged on approval of the railway’s USDA loan. The railway was later purchased by a private company in Phoenix.
McCain understands the issues facing our forests, namely that over a million acres of ponderosa pine have been burned in the last 15 years. He understands the devastation forest fires have on the area and the lingering effects they have on our economy, as well as the need to invest in and streamline thinning projects like the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, rather than “throwing more money at fighting wildfires,” as he put it. When successful, the area’s economy will benefit with additional logging and trucking jobs, as well as the many wood products industries that have the potential to thrive with ample supply.
In addition, McCain co-sponsored the Western Water Supply and Planning Enhancement Act which, among other things, will streamline the permitting process for forest and wildland restoration efforts to help protect watersheds in critical water supply areas.
Contrary to what McCain has been called by a presidential candidate, he is an American hero who has dedicated his life to service of our country and the state of Arizona. The Independent recommends John McCain for U.S. Senate.
Multiple-term U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who grew up in the White Mountains and has represented the area in Congress, only faces a write-in candidate, Axel Bello, in the primary. We recommend Kirkpatrick.
Primary Election Day: Aug. 30
Last day to register to vote: Aug. 1
Early voting begins: Aug. 3,
Last day to request an early ballot: Aug. 19
General Election Day: Nov. 8
Last day to register to vote: Oct. 10
Early voting begins: Oct. 12
Last day to request an early ballot: Oct. 28