Save the Dells offers 2020 Election Endorsements and Critiques

[Disclaimer: These endorsements are from the Save the Dells organization, not Prescott eNews.]

We can’t save the Granite Dells if we don’t have elected leaders courageous enough to get the job done. The 2020 election is a big deal for many reasons; add saving the Dells to the list. That’s why we would like to share the results of our 2020 election candidate questionnaire.

Save the Dells is a Political Action Committee dedicated to preserving the undeveloped portions of the Granite Dells as public open space. Our goal for the candidate questionnaire is to provide the public with the information they need to make a sound decision in this election.

We sent questionnaires to nine county and state candidates on Sept. 23. We asked for responses by Sept. 30. Five candidates responded. We sent follow-up emails to the other four to provide them with an opportunity to make a public statement as to why they did not fill out the questionnaire, and give them a chance to make a statement on the Granite Dells that we could publish in lieu of their questionnaire responses. By the Oct. 3 deadline, none had provided comments. Below, we present the results of the 2020 candidate questionnaires, our comments, and a couple important endorsements. See the candidate questionnaire here.

Note: Save the Dells is not endorsing any candidate running unopposed. Therefore, a “no endorsement” decision for those candidates does not imply our opposition to their candidacy.

Arizona House of Representatives Legislative District 1: Vote for Judy Stahl!

Save the Dells endorses Judy Stahl for your next LD1 State Representative. We sent candidate questionnaires to all three candidates for this office: Quang Nguyen, Judy Stahl, and Judy Burges. Judy Burges opened the survey, filled out the first few questions, and then skipped the rest. Quang Nguyen did not respond until it was simply too late, and we had already made our decisions and begun to prepare the statement you are reading. Judy Stahl is the one candidate who filled out the entire questionnaire. Her statements indicate strong support for our mission, including sponsoring Representative Noel Campbell’s HB2284.

Additionally, Judy is very active sharing Save the Dells materials on social media, and regularly attends our events. Her commitment to creating a Granite Dells Regional Park and Preserve is crystal clear. Judy states that she is “running as the Common Ground Candidate.” We all share the responsibly for good land stewardship and protecting treasured natural resources. We urge you to vote for Judy Stahl for LD1 Representative.

Read Judy Stahl’s questionnaire here.

Read Judy Burges’ questionnaire here.

Arizona Senate Legislative District 1: No Endorsement.

Current Senate President Karen Fann is running against write-in candidate Gilbert Carillo. Senator Fann was sent the candidate questionnaire but declined to respond, unfortunately. However, we appreciate Karen taking time out of her busy schedule last winter to meet with Save the Dells representatives at the state capitol to discuss Representative Noel Campbell’s HB2284 Granite Dells land conservation funding bill, which she had indicated hesitant support for at the time.

While Senator Fann’s website does not mention anything about the Granite Dells, open space, or land conservation, it does feature several stunning images of the Granite Dells and Watson Lake. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, we hope that Senator Fann uses these images as a message that she is willing to do what it takes to create a Granite Dells Regional Park and Preserve. You can contact Senator Fann here to ask to strongly support land conservation in the Granite Dells by working with Mr. Campbell’s successor to resurrect and pass HB228.

We couldn’t find any substantive information for Carillo so we could not send them a questionnaire, and as a write-in candidate we are not considering this a legitimate run against Fann. Because of this, we consider Senator Fann to be running unopposed. As such, we are not offering any endorsements.

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors District 1: Too close to call!

This is a high-stakes race between John Lutes and Harry Oberg. Both candidates completed our questionnaire, and both answered very well. Based off their answers, we are unable to make an endorsement either way. We encourage you to read their statements for yourself. Here’s Oberg on natural resources. Here’s Lutes on the issues. Also, please see John Lutes informative video titled “Our Water, Our Future” or his video titled “A Day at the Dells.” Harry Oberg has his own video too, in which he states “our iconic Granite Dells and the Verde River are of significant concern.” It’s clear that these candidates are vying for the votes of Save the Dells’ supporters. YOU BE THE JUDGE!

An added element to this race is Congressman Paul Gosar’s endorsement of Harry Oberg. Paul Gosar has been one of the most outspoken opponents in Congress of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a federal program which uses offshore oil-drilling royalties to fund public park and open space purchases. Just this past week the Prescott National Forest used LWCF funds to purchase 84 acres along the Verde River, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, and the J.W. Kieckhefer Foundation. These are the very organizations and acquisition programs that Save the Dells needs to win the support of if we are to fulfill our mission of creating a Granite Dells Regional Park and Preserve. Mr. Oberg’s apparent association with Mr. Gosar could very well be an impediment to land acquisition. However, we’d like to hear what Mr. Oberg has to say about this twist.

Read John Lutes’ questionnaire here.

Read Harry Oberg’s questionnaire here.

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors District 2: No endorsement.

James Gregory is running unopposed. You can learn about him here, where he states that one of his goals is to “Protect the Verde River and natural resources.” Unfortunately, an email for Mr. Gregory could not be located in time to send him our questionnaire. Mr. Gregory’s district comes right up into Prescott Valley and in fact borders State Trust Lands on Glassford Hill that we have proposed for inclusion in a Granite Dells Regional Park and Preserve. We’re guessing that Mr. Gregory may not be familiar with Save the Dells, so please take a moment to contact him and let him know that you vote, and that you vote for the Dells!

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors District 3: Vote for Donna Michaels!

On the other side of Mingus Mountain, Save the Dells endorses Donna Michaels, who is running against incumbent Randy Garrison. Donna, whose website features the slogan “PROTECT, PRESERVE, and PROMOTE” is well prepared for the job, as she holds a doctorate in social policy and planning. Donna filled out our questionnaire, while Mr. Garrison did not. In responding to a question about our proposed Regional Park and Preserve, Donna stated that it’s “important for residents across our region to work collaboratively to ensure that these preserves exist in the whole of Yavapai County.” We couldn’t agree more. Yavapai County is growing rapidly and does not have a system in place to ensure fair and easy access to public parklands for all residents, from Bagdad to Beaver Creek. Yavapai County residents outside of Prescott or Sedona have few public natural parklands to enjoy. Tell your friends in Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Sedona, and the Village of Oak Creek to vote for Donna Michaels!

Read Donna Michael’s questionnaire here.

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors District 4: No endorsement.

Incumbent Craig Brown is running against Rand Armstrong. Unfortunately, Supervisor Brown did not respond to the questionnaire, and we could not find an email address for Mr. Armstrong. We’ve had a couple good conversations with Supervisor Brown at events like Earth Day, so we are disappointed with his silence on these issues.

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors District 5: No endorsement.

Incumbent Mary Mallory is running unopposed. When talking privately with a Save the Dells representative at a meeting in Prescott Valley, she expressed her support for Save the Dells, but without her completing the questionnaire, we can’t say much more. You can learn about her here.

Thank you for your attention and remember to VOTE!

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