Board of Supervisor District 1 candidates meet
PRESCOTT – Yavapai County Board of Supervisors candidates for District 1 tried to distinguish themselves Wednesday, June 8, at a forum hosted Citizen Tax Committee.
Challenger Harold Wise stood on his accomplishments as a businessman and civic service including four years on the Prescott City Council and six years on the Prescott Valley Town Council.
“When you’re involved in your community, you get to know people and what they’re about,” Wise said.
He said one of his priorities is water resource planning.
“I think we have the wherewithal to work through that,” he said.
Incumbent Jack Smith touted the record of his first term as a county supervisor, citing the addition of prayer before board meetings and live-streaming of meetings.
Smith said he spearheaded the effort to reduce 27 vehicles from the county’s vehicle fleet, resulting in lower expenditures.
Smith said he listened to voters when they rejected a proposal to build a new jail and is working with the county’s criminal justice officers to reduce inmate population.
He said the effort has been a combination of more lawyers, more probation and parole officers and early disposition court proceedings.
“If people need to be in jail, they need to be in jail. But if they don’t we need to let them out,” Smith said.
Wise faulted prior county administrations for the decision to build the jail in the Verde Valley.
“We should not be in a position of needing a new jail in Prescott,” he said. “It wasn’t handled properly, and it wasn’t done with public input.”
In part, Smith agreed.
“I don’t think it should have been done in the Verde,” he said.
But Smith added his view that the county is consigned to the current situation.
Wise added concern over the county’s current approach to the jail.
“Everything Jack’s said, it takes money,” he said. “They will raise your taxes one way or another.”
However, both candidates agreed on an effort to create a court to help veterans.
“It’s something I’ve been working on the last three or four months,” Smith said.
Harold added, “We need to step forward and do something (to help veterans).”
He said that should be more than courts, but should extend to workforce training, drug and alcohol abuse recovery and other health issues – an effort that would include local, state and federal agencies.
Both candidates responded to several questions from CTC members.
On the county’s obligations to the state’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, Smith said the county currently has about $40 million in unfunded liabilities.
He said Yavapai County is on track to pay that balance off in accordance with the state law, adding, “Any money or surpluses we can pay, we’re going to pay it down.”
Wise agreed with the county’s approach.
“The only other way to do it is to tax people, and I don’t want to do it,” he said.
But, he said, “The county has dragged its feet on a lot of other issues.”
When pressed, Wise said he took issue to with the county’s approach to water resource planning, but directed more of his criticism to an underfunded Arizona Department of water Resources.
He said the county needs to join with partners in the public and private sector to build a pipeline to bring more water to the region.
Smith disagreed, saying the county is a minority partner when it comes to water, and that municipalities should be leading the charge.
Smith said the county’s role has been in educating the public, encouraging conservation and working with stakeholders in water resource planning.
“We are on top of the water issue, even though we don’t touch it,” he said.
Questioned on drug and alcohol abuse recovery homes, Smith said he endorses the county’s approach of pushing them into commercial districts to keep them out of neighborhoods, though he admitted that approach has yet to face a legal challenge.
Wise did not directly address the issue of group homes.
Both candidates said they would be responsive to constituents.
“It’s about making sure your available to the people,” Smith said.
Wise agreed, and said if elected, he would be a focused full-time on his job as county supervisor.