Rural Arizona can be proud of several legislative teams now serving in the Arizona Legislature. One particular newly-elected triad arrived this last Monday from Eastern Arizona and was welcomed by constituents from across their district.
Senator Sylvia Allen (re-elected) and newcomers Representatives Brenda Barton and Chester Crandall conducted their own lunchtime gathering on the House lawn immediately following the Governor’s State of the State address. With food (Malachi Meats) specially brought in and served for the occasion, the Legislative District 5 Republican team entertained supporters from across their district.
One of the larger legislative districts in Arizona, LD-5 covers a significant portion of Eastern Arizona including Navajo, Apache, Gila, Greenlee and Graham Counties. Constituents made the trek from as far as Winslow, Concho, Morenci and Safford to have lunch and show their support for the new Republican team. (In the past, LD-5 have has a mix of conservative Democratic and Republican teams representing it.)
Sally Nabor, a resident and community activist, drove from Morenci to lend her support for the team. Nabor, who has lived throughout the district, was the first female truck driver for mining company, Phelps Dodge. Now she works in the community and spends her summers as a camp host in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Sally has been involved in politics for years and even served a term as President of Flagstaff Republican Women. These days, she’s considering a run for her county board of supervisors.
Shirley Dye, made the relatively shorter drive from Payson. Also a political activist, Shirley serves in several capacities including on the board of the Rim Country GOP and Payson TEA Party. During the event, she welcomed the A-B-C team and noted the many things her organizations are doing to win conservative voters.
Globe-Miami was also well represented by Pamela Burruel who actually resides near Roosevelt Lake. Pamela has been hard at work registering Republicans as the President of the Cobre Valley Republicans Club. During the last election cycle, this conservative champion traveled throughout Gila County to get Allen-Barton-Crandall the votes they needed.
The small town of Concho was even represented by Republican Barry Weller, another Republican outstanding in his community. Weller a former Navy nuclear operator, is especially interested in Arizona’s energy and utility policies. He attended the entire day’s event not only to support his legislators but also to talk energy policy with other elected officials.
During the gathering, Sonoran Alliance spoke with Representative Barton and Senator Allen. When asked what they thought would be the most important legislative issue this session, they both agreed that the State budget would dominate all legislative priorities.
Barton, stressed the critical situation of our current demand on resources and services. “We simply don’t have enough money to meet every need,” she explained. “This will be a tough time for everyone as we make cuts all around.”
Asked about her legislative priorities, Representative Barton listed the budget, taxes and regulations as her top goals. “We’ve got to make it easier for small businesses to recover and start hiring people again,” she said.
Barton also pledged to represent rural Arizona as her secondary set of goals.
Senator Sylvia Allen agreed with Barton’s assessment on the state budget. “Taxes and regulation on businesses need to be addressed in order to start moving the economy forward again,” she said. “We need to attract new business and protect existing business if we want to jump start this economy. Reducing taxes and regulation are a good place to start,” Allen asserted. The second term senator also recommended appealing to California business to relocate to Arizona instead of leapfrogging to Texas.
Other legislative priorities for Senator Allen include reestablishing a balance between federalism and state sovereignty and allowing the State of Arizona to use its own resources without heavy-handed federal regulations.
Monday’s event also marked an important turn for the Republican party in rural Arizona. The Fifth Legislative District has not had three Republicans represent the district since redistricting occurred in 2001 nor prior to that. And the 2010 election cycle also saw changes occur in other rural districts such as LD 23 and 25 where Republicans had a clean sweep.
If rural Arizona politics are becoming more Republican in recent elections, then LD-5 is a good example of the conservative leadership rising from within the district. The legislative triad of Allen, Barton and Crandall represent such conservative values and the voters who elected them have sent a message that rural Arizona will be heard and effective.