I am grateful to be an American, born in Arizona and living and raising my family in Navajo County. I love our country and the freedoms it provides us. We get to have a voice and make decisions that will impact our everyday lives from time to time and I don’t take this freedom of choice lightly. I personally believe it is important to research the facts, to weigh out both sides of the issues and make informed decision on those things that we are asked to vote on. In this election we will be given a chance to share our voice on a jail district which will impact what level of service we want from our government at the county level.
Since the recent recession Navajo County has seen cuts year over year losing a significant amount of its workforce and cutting back on our overall costs. We have seen the state balance its budget on the counties’ backs and shift state responsibilities to the counties with no funding to provide the services that are now ours to provide. Navajo County should operate as efficiently as possible so in some ways this experience has been self-balancing, which is good. Throughout this process, however, I assure you Navajo County has been resilient and determined in our approach as we looked for ways to cut costs and to provide the level of service our citizens have asked of us. Last year was the first time since I have been on the board of supervisors that we had to cut programs or services to our citizens and that was concerning to me.
Arizona is coming out of the recession and Navajo County is seeing some positive signs so why would we look at a jail district now? As we look to the future in Navajo County, we can see that we face significant job loss with the future cuts at the power plants, as well as with Arizona’s only operational coal mine. This will have a trickle-down effect on businesses tied to the plants and in turn to Navajo County and each of you. We will have to continue to look at cuts to other programs and potentially to key personnel that our citizens value and expect, such as law enforcement and public safety as we simply won’t have the money. The Navajo County Attorney’s office is already losing some of its employees due to the significant caseloads they are handling, and this will only increase those caseloads, significantly lessening our ability to provide the degree of care we expect from our government.
We have looked down the rabbit hole and have run the numbers and looked at various solutions trying to leave no rock unturned. In this process, we have found that a jail district would offset the general fund enough to provide the relief that is necessary to maintain the current level of service. In addition, each of the local municipalities would no longer pay jail fees putting more money back into their general funds. I would encourage you to study this issue, so you will understand when you vote how it will impact you and your families in Navajo County when you vote in August. I have not personally taken this issue lightly, I have reviewed the facts and spent a significant amount of time on this, based on the information I have seen I would hope you would join me in voting yes for a jail district.