The 2016 election has now come and gone and it is the local issues that will affect us the most.
On the local level, Cottonwood City Councilman Tim Elinski is likely to defeat Holly Grigaitis to be the city’s new mayor, replacing Diane Joens, who lost her bid for the Yavapai County District 3 seat in the August primary election.
We look forward to working with this new mayor and seeing what he brings to the table to direct Cottonwood toward improving the community for residents.
Councilwomen Deb Althouse and Tosca Henry will join Elinkski and reelected incumbent Councilman Ruben Jauregui on the City Council. They were elected in August but have yet to be seated.
In Camp Verde, Dee Jenkins and Buck Buchanan will be sworn in this week after winning seats in August to replace Town Councilwoman Carol German and Vice Mayor Bruce George.
Proposition 205, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, failed by only about 81,488 votes, the narrowest margin of victory for any recreational marijuana bill in Arizona’s history. Similar initiatives passed in Massachusetts, Nevada and California and is facing a recount in Maine. With two of those states on our immediate border, expect to see recreational marijuana back on the ballot in 2018, especially if it proves to be a tax-revenue-generating success in our neighboring states.
It may also be that the state legislature may pass or decriminalize recreational marijuana in the next few years to preempt such a move for the simple fact that legislators can make changes to laws they pass, but are prohibited by the Arizona Constitution from making any alterations to citizen-written initiatives.
Proposition 206, the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, passed by a wide margin, meaning minimum wage workers will see a salary increase to $10 per hour come January and rolling increases to $12 through 2020.
While this is a victory for workers, it does raise some serious fiscal concerns for employers and the state economy as a whole. The budget for staff salaries for a small company employing minimum wage workers doesn’t also suddenly increase in 2017, so owners must decide by January whether to raise their prices, cut employees’ hours, fire staff, cut employee benefits or bleed other parts of their business, like reducing the products they offer, reducing hours they’re open or shutting stores which could spell trouble in the years to come.
Randy Garrison is our new Yavapai County supervisor, replacing 20-year supervisor Arlo G. “Chip” Davis. Garrison is a fighter and we expect him to be a strong advocate for improvements we want to see in Sedona and the Verde Valley. He will work with Tom Thurman from District 2 to secure what we can from a Prescott-centered county.
Although the county has no jurisdictional authority over the Yavapai College Governing Board, we expect that they’ll put pressure on college as supervisors so we can get back what we pay in tax revenue. Governing Board member Deb McCasland fended off a challenger from Prescott Valley, but with ally Al Filardo’s recent resignation, she’ll be the lone voice for our towns in the face of President Penny Wills’ myopic view of the value of our side of the county.
With a very bitter election season finally over, it’s time to move forward and remember we are all playing for the same team.