One of Arizona’s most important and longest-standing traditions is that water transcends partisan politics. Our extraordinary record of quality-water management is the result of more than 100 years of bipartisan and nonpartisan cooperation. Carl Hayden, John Rhodes, Barry Goldwater, Morris Udall, Bruce Babbitt, John McCain and Jon Kyl are examples of this outstanding tradition.
The two of us like to think of ourselves as a minor part of this legacy. We served together on the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) board from the early 1990s through the middle of this decade. Each of us was president of that board, which runs the Central Arizona Project, during a time of great turbulence and controversy. One of us is a Republican, one a Democrat.
For literally generations, Arizonans have recognized that we can only live in this place if we carefully manage our water supplies with a long-term, big-picture strategy. Of all the things government does in our state, this is surely among the most critical and most basic. It is also one of our greatest successes.
Because of long-term, stable, bipartisan policy setting, Arizona today is better off than any of our neighboring states with regard to water supply.
But this year, the tradition is at risk. A group of extreme, partisan, and stunningly unknowledgeable people are trying to take over the Central Arizona Project Board. Why? Because it’s easy, and because they believe that all government is bad and should be cut. Their only stated platform is to end the Central Arizona Project’s employee-retirement system and to reduce the staff.
The Central Arizona Project has fewer than 500 employees, and its budget and operations are mainly paid for from water and power sales. There is a very minor property tax, which is used to stabilize the operations and protect our water supplies. No matter how much you feel that government has gotten too big or intrusive, that shouldn’t have anything to do with this race.
This election is a very big deal, but is easily lost in all the noise. Voters in Maricopa County get to vote for five from a total slate of 15 candidates who are running. We’ve provided a list of the candidates who, in our opinion, understand the importance of water and the Central Arizona Project to Arizona’s future.
Please take this vote seriously. The CAWCD is local, efficient, nonpartisan government at its best, and it’s really at risk this year.
Frank Fairbanks — retired Phoenix city manager; registered independent
David S. “Sid” Wilson — retired general manager of the CAWCD; Republican
Tim Bray — incumbent board member; water consultant, primarily to major developers and cities; Republican
Jim Holway — former assistant director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources; Democrat
Ray Jones — water consultant, primarily to private water companies; former president of Arizona American Water; Republican
Karl Kohloff, retired water management professional; Republican
Arif Kazmi — civil engineer who works for Arizona Department of Transportation; registered professional engineer; Democrat
Andy Yates — worked at the Arizona Capitol Museum; owner of a public relations consulting business; Republican
Brian Munson — Works for mining company ASARCO; former director of water quality at the Arizona Department of Water Resources; independent
— George Renner was a CAWCD board member for 16 years, and board president for six years.
— Grady Gammage, Jr. was a CAWCD board member for 12 years, and president for four years.