Over the decade I’ve followed local government, the caliber of the candidates standing for election has not always been inspiring. There have been a few standouts to be sure, but over the years we’ve seen some rather modest talents step forward, to put the matter charitably. This year is different.
As a matter of editorial policy, Prescott eNews does not endorse candidates. Readers know our political philosophy leans right. Like every voter, I have my own preferences. But as the owner and publisher of eNews, I feel a civic responsibility to make the platform available to all candidates. We stand for free speech and open debate. We don’t censor, smear, or deny our platform to anyone.
Prescott is facing a landmark election. Anecdotally, I’m hearing a lot of concern about the current direction of the city. I recently attended two city council candidate forums to meet the new candidates who have come forward this year. The first was sponsored by the Yavapai Republican Men’s Forum and the second by Granite Mountain Republican Women. They were both well organized events which were presented in the best traditions of civility and voter education.
The five candidates who are registered Republicans—Jim Lamerson, Steve Blair, Jessica Hall, Eric Moore, and Grant Quezada all showed up. A sixth candidate, Brandon Montoya, a registered Independent who describes himself as a fiscal conservative, was reportedly not invited because the by-laws of Republican clubs limit their support to Republican candidates. But Mr. Montoya had earlier accepted an invitation to stop by the studio of Prescott eNews to record a videocast with Glenn Martin on Prescott Talks. Candidate Eric Moore has also recorded a videocast with Glenn Martin.
This opportunity to personally meet or directly observe the candidates has given me the chance to size them up and learn their positions on the issues. They are not all as conservative as I am. I don’t agree with any of them on every issue. But the biggest take away from my direct, unfiltered observations is that this year’s crop of city council candidates is a cut above the norm.
They are all longtime residents with deep ties to Prescott. They all come across as decent, authentic people with honorable motives for seeking office. Some are smoother and more practiced than others. But they all showed a good grasp of the issues and didn’t duck the questions. They are clearly very capable individuals who have been successful in their personal careers.
None of them are looking for a job or seeking financial gain thru elective office. As far as we know, none of them have personal entanglements that might raise questions about potential conflicts of interests. In short, they all impress me as honorable men and women, well qualified to serve on the city council.
This year’s city election finds Prescott in a crisis of identity over water and growth. Voters must decide if we should maintain the recent pace of growth or adopt tighter limits on how much and how fast we should grow. On one side are the developers and those who benefit from growth who assure us we have plenty of water and that adding a few thousand new homes will make us a more prosperous and vibrant community. On the other side are those who worry that we are in a long term drought and that over development will strain our infrastructure and risk the destruction of the historic character and quality of our community life.
Unfortunately, Prescott’s city election has brought out the dark side of money and politics. The nasty radio ads and mailers seem to be worse than usual this year. Civil debate has given way to character assassination funded by Political Action Committees who are able to conceal the identity of their donors. But as we have discussed in other articles, publicly available campaign filings reveal a familiar cast of characters. Several city council candidates have been targeted with ugly smears. To my knowledge and to their great credit, none of the candidates themselves have taken the low road and responded in kind.
No one deserves to be smeared or have their character or motives questioned for making the personal sacrifices required to run for public office. Only three of the six candidates can win seats on the city council. But they all deserve our thanks for offering their time and talents to the community. Two weeks remain until election day. There is a lot at stake. Each candidate for city council offers unique talents and strengths. It’s hard to make a mistake this year. Please vote.