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 non-partisan cooperation. Carl Hayden, John Rhodes, Barry Goldwater, Morris Udall, Bruce Babbitt, John McCain and Jon Kyl are all 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 (CAP), 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 and goal. 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 CAP 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 CAP's employee retirement system and to reduce the staff. The CAP 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 who are running. Here are the quality candidates who understand the importance of water and the CAP to Arizona's future:
Frank Fairbanks. Retired Phoenix City Manager. Registered Independent. Endorsed by Arizona Republic.
David S. "Sid" Wilson. Retired General Manager of the CAWCD. Republican. Also endorsed by Arizona Republic.
Tim Bray. Currently incumbent board member. Water consultant, primarily to major developers and cities. Republican. Endorsed by Arizona Republic.
Jim Holway. Formerly Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. After leaving ADWR, worked at ASU in the Global Institute of Sustainability. Now at the Sonoran Institute, which is a moderate environmental organization. Democrat. Endorsed by Arizona Republic.
Ray Jones. Water Consultant, primarily to private water companies. Formerly president of Arizona American Water. Republican.
These are also totally solid candidates and would be fine board members.
Karl Kohloff. Retired water management professional. Republican.
Arif Kazmi. Civil Engineer who works for ADOT. Registered Professional Engineer. Democrat. Endorsed by Arizona Republic.
Andy Yates. Worked at the Arizona Capitol Museum. Now has his own PR/Consulting business. Republican.
Brian Munson. Works for mining company ASARCO. Formerly Director of Water Quality at the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Independent.
Please take this vote seriously. The CAWCD is local, efficient, non-partisan government at its best, and it's really at risk this year.
George Renner was a CAWCD Board Member for 16 years, and Board President six years.
Grady Gammage Jr. was a CAWCD Board Member for 12 years, and President four years.