The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors oversees the cities and towns of Bridgeport, Chino Valley, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Dewey-Humboldt, Jerome, Perkinsville, Prescott, Sedona, Verde Santa Fe, Verde Village, and the Village of Oak Creek.
Doctor Donna Michaels, a candidate for District Three on the Yavapai Board this year, wants to take a build-up approach to reinvigorate the Verde Valley area in order to boost the local community and culture of the county.
Possessing a doctorate in policy, with a focus on social welfare policy, and policy analysis, Dr. Michaels believes the rural areas of Verde Valley are an oasis that can create robust local sustainable economies and preserve its unique culture.
If elected to the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, she would work to:
- “Protect our rural, small town, communities’ character and/or Community Plans and Vision statements and
- Preserve our rural lifestyle wherever possible and practicable, our land use and critically diminishing water resources, and
- Promote business that supports our communities’ plans and vision, robust, smart technologies, and sustainable economies.”
- Perform as a Public Servant based on the operating principles of accountability, collaboration, and transparency.
Dr. Michaels graciously took the time to discuss her qualifications and goals for District Three in Yavapai County.
The questions and her responses are below.
Please tell the readers three ways in which the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors affects their lives.
“The Supervisors have the final say over county departmental budgets, set the property tax rate, and calculate all other county tax rates. The Board also gives final approval for all zoning and use permits in the county’s unincorporated areas.”
Please tell the readers how your education and experience have prepared you to serve on the Board.
“My life’s work, education, and expertise have uniquely prepared me for this office, as have my thirty years of being an active and engaged resident of regional and state matters.”
“As a published author on social policy, public administration, and capital campaigns, I bring significant preparation to the office.”
“Both professionally and through community service, I’m known for building teams of diverse constituents to develop and implement organizational goals. I work with a “hands-on” leadership style, developing and executing plans through partnering with internal/external resources and recruitment, and mentoring high-performance teams.”
I’m accomplished in the areas of building stakeholder relationships, collaboration with diverse populations, board development, fundraising and program development, implementation, management, and marketing.
“Effectively working with for-profit organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and many cultural and non-profit groups require a sensitivity to diverse perspectives. I know the importance and the value of considering each perspective in a relative and relevant sense, and I employ that in my approach to both understanding the issues and in collaborative, consensus-building work towards effective strategies.”
“As an accomplished public speaker and moderator with expertise in the fields of education, public policy, land use planning, and government regulation, I am prepared to address, listen to, and advocate for residents within multiple environments and circumstances.”
“And certainly not least are pro bono and non-profit activities. For example, my passion for horses has led my involvement, support, and consultation for a number of equine organizations and ventures and ultimately to founding the Veterans Equine Therapy Alliance (VETA). Other 501c3 volunteer involvement has included: Arizona Rural Health Association, Verde Valley Sanctuary, Arizona Community College Association, Board Member of the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona, and the Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Engagement Initiative.”
“I also served on the Yavapai College Governing Board from 2002 to 2008.”
Please describe how you would support animal wellness, adoption, and protection.
“I’m glad that this comes in right after the end of my last answer. I have a long-held passion for horses. I am also a patriot; and I combined that passion for horses with my great respect, appreciation, and commitment to our veterans. I’m proud of the healing work VETA can provide for our Verde Valley Veterans, including our First Nations Veterans and families.”
“My compassion for animals has involved me in rescue efforts from dogs to horses and will drive my sensitivity to those issues as an elected official.”
“I’ll nurture existing relationships and build new relationships with the professionals who work directly through organizations and departments to ensure that these issues are addressed with the proper resources.”
Please describe how you would support public safety from disease.
“During a global pandemic, this is an especially poignant and relevant question.”
“Since early March, our campaign has shifted its focus exclusively to the well being of our community members as it relates to COVID-19.”
“Our team very recently volunteered an effort to provide almost 200 boxes of cereal to the “Meals on Wheels” program headed by Elaine Bremner, Executive Director of the Verde Valley Senior Citizens’ Association. In just over half an hour, we collected those boxes of cereal and $775.00 in donations to buy more cereal for the program.”
“The effort was spearheaded by Tom Coultas, one of our team members, who developed the idea from a Facebook post by Elaine, in which she requested donations of cereal. Tom Coultas and Jack Van Rixel provided 130 handmade masks that were exchanged for the boxes of cereal and the cash donations.”
“Programs like “Meals on Wheels” that bring vital support to quarantined seniors tremendously help greater public risk from a disease such as COVID-19. Creative ideas like these, when combined with existing organizational infrastructure and supported by generous communities like those in our Verde Valley, can have a very significant and positive impact.”
“I’m proud of this campaign’s efforts and appreciative of the hardworking, talented, and compassionate individuals that make up Team Michaels.”
“This was a great example of a “hands-on” effort to partner with our existing organizations that are already dedicated to and working to promote public safety and well-being. I’ll soon be working closely with Elaine to increase funding for seniors across the county.”
“As Supervisor, I’ll partner with our health professionals and medical organizations in providing/assisting with proactive measures like education and awareness to help increase public safety by working to prevent disease to every extent possible. This approach fosters and maintains the relationships that will be crucial when responding to crises like the one we’re currently facing.”
“I also support the expansion of telehealth rural broadband in the Verde Valley area.”
Please describe how you would ensure that immunizations are given to low income and homeless citizens.
“It is every elected official’s responsibility to be an advocate for populations that are most at-risk in our region. That includes low-income individuals and families, of course, as well as the homeless, individuals with disabilities, those facing and in need of help with mental health issues, some of our seniors, children, veterans, and our First Nations communities. Until we have ameliorated the inequities that exist in services to these populations, elected officials’ jobs will not be completed or successful.”
“Enthusiastic community support and creative solutions arise when people work together and trust each other.”
“We have to make sure that funding is there to ensure immunizations (measles are on the rise and needs to be tackled) and nutritional needs (to address food insecurity.)”
Please describe how you would support county libraries.
“The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors acts as the Board of Directors for the Yavapai County Free Library District, which was established by the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors in 1987. The District supports 15 branch libraries. Most of the branches are located in unincorporated communities. Therefore, it is already incumbent upon Yavapai County Supervisors to be directly involved with this important community resource.”
“As a benefit to the ongoing awareness and education of our residents, our libraries provide a service and an outlet that are both important to the quality of life in our region and lifelong learning to future generations. I look forward to being directly involved with our county libraries.”
“I am in favor of expanding rural broadband access for the libraries and for children at homes so we have the same leveling of the playing field.”
Please describe how you would support Veterans Services.
“My own initiative as the Founder of the Veterans Equine Therapy Alliance (VETA) demonstrates my commitment to our veterans before I even take office.”
“I provided pro bono counseling to our veterans when I first moved to Camp Verde, nearly thirty years ago.”
“I believe that existing services to our veterans are wholly inadequate across the Verde Valley Region. This is too common in rural America and we must do better.”
“I would honor our veterans and advocate for them with regards to transportation, substance abuse, food insecurity, workforce development, housing-homelessness, mental health, and opioid addiction. I will use my voice as a Supervisor to address each one of these areas of need that affect our veterans.”
Please describe how you would support safeguarding waste, recycling, and sanitation.
“We all have the common recognition that we have to be better stewards by ensuring state-of-the-art recycling and regenerative processes. Nowhere is that more important than in rural communities where families are raised, development is robust, and our natural resources are at great risk.”
“Yet again, building and maintaining relationships with the people who work in businesses and organizations creates a strong foundation for being well informed and able to work with trust and cooperation alongside those who are most knowledgeable in these areas. These individuals are not only equipped to maintain the systems that support these very important functions within our communities; they’re almost certainly those with the innovative ideas that will generate consistent improvements to these functions and the systems that enable them to function properly.”
“The greater Sedona area has a robust recycling program that must continue to be supported.”
“It’s all about communication and I am eager to engage with individuals to ensure that Yavapai County is consistently functioning at an A+ level and that we’re able to respond during especially challenging times.”
Please describe how you would support infrastructure.
“Infrastructure needs are crucial areas to address. For example, the Verde Valley has a growth rate projected at 105%, per Yavapai County. This means we must work as a region to address infrastructure challenges through consensus building, full transparency, accountability, and always guided by community plans and visions.”
“We’re already facing significantly negative challenges with the proposed Verde Connect. ‘Protect, preserve, and promote’ are exactly the values that will help us grow in healthy ways—not just this generation but for many generations to come.”
“The Verde Connect controversy is a stark example of a lack of responsible stewardship. All of our decisions must be founded on fiscal responsibility, community plans, and the consensus of communities.”
“During this pandemic, we must address traffic concerns in fiscally responsible ways to mitigate infrastructure challenges.”
“To make a decision that will impact taxes for our region for decades to come in our present economic downturn is simply not fiscally responsible. For example, it seems to me that, rather than seeking a 25 million dollar federal fund that will result in additional millions of dollars to complete, support, and maintain, such as the Verde Connect proposal. We should instead focus on relieving economic impacts as a result of COVID-19 on small businesses through loans or grants that may be forgiven. This would be a demonstration of responsible leadership.”
Please address other priorities, not covered in question four, as a member of the board you would like to pursue if elected.
“Grow our local economy, address short-term rentals, workforce housing, and educational opportunities.”
“We have a unique opportunity to promote robust, regenerative economies across all sectors. There are many examples of this throughout our Verde Valley region, such as Plowing Ahead Ranch, Hauser Farms, Sinagua Malt, Cornville Mercantile, as well as many small businesses like restaurants, barbers/salons, dentists, small medical practices, veterinarians, mechanics, retail stores, clothiers, etc. that comprise the economic engine of our Verde Valley.”
“The Verde Valley is replete with examples of small business agricultural operations on smaller acreage. These ranchers, farmers, and viticulturists should be permitted the same rights, credits, and financial support as are granted to those operating on parcels of five acres or larger.”
“I will work to ensure that these businesses thrive, as they have the greatest potential to create self-reliance while also providing for our Verde Valley’s ability to be self-reliant.”
“We have everything we need here. We are a cornucopia of plenty and especially during this time, it is essential to support and develop the self- reliance of our Verde Valley Region.”
Short-term rentals and workforce housing are very common concerns in some of our communities and the two are interconnected. I’m paying close attention to these issues.”
“I’m eager to address short-term rental concerns with individuals already working to push measures that would counteract some of the negative, unintended consequences of SB1350. To more specifically define a business investment from a residential home with income benefits to owner residents is an essential part of addressing workforce housing concerns.”
“I’ll employ a long-term, more optimistic vision than we’ve been witnessing in addressing workforce housing. Unfortunately, we’ve seen proposed developments that seem to promise little more than the guise of workforce housing. How developments like one proposed for El Rojo Grande represent significant benefits for workforce housing when 80% of the development must be occupied by people ages 55 and over is, to say the least, a disingenuous definition of workforce housing. Fortunately, many of our engaged citizenry and local leaders had similar feelings. Proposals like the since withdrawn Primrose Peaks Estates would require residents to commute significant distances in difficult traffic situations for relatively low- paying jobs. I don’t recognize these initiatives as long-term, healthy solutions for our local economies nor do they promise upward mobility for aspirational, hard-working residents.”
“The time to support and create initiatives that promise more lucrative and independent, interconnected opportunities for local businesses that would embolden local entrepreneurship and income opportunities that hold greater promise for homeownership are long overdue. Exploring how we might attract professions and entrepreneurs with the ability to work from home may also hold the promise of greater economic benefits to our communities.”
“In some of our communities, there has long been concern about the lack of age diversity. This is another “regenerative” concern. Education is certainly a big piece of this challenge. Families with children require safe, attractive, quality opportunities for education. Fortunately, we’re seeing potential rise with examples like the Sedona Village Learning Center, founded by Village of Oak Creek residents Joanna Horton McPherson and her husband, Thomas, in partnership with the Madre Tierra Foundation.”
Please tell the reader anything you would like them to know not covered in the previous questions.
“Because the Board of Supervisors gives final approval for all zoning and use permits in the county’s unincorporated areas, it is especially important to consider matters of land use. Prior to my candidacy, I demonstrated the importance of community involvement in these matters by initiating, organizing, and raising the funds to hold a forum titled: “Verde Valley Land Use: Making Collaborative Decisions”, the focus of which was how we as a Verde Valley region must acknowledge the shared impact of these decisions and establish means to work together in reaching decisions.”
“Residents of the Verde Valley Region are aware, engaged, and energetic. They’re seeking leadership that will listen to and addresses their concerns.”
“The job of a county supervisor is not easy, although it is easy to understand: “Every community has a right to determine its own sense of place; a supervisor’s job is to protect it.” Please go to www.donnafordistrict3.com and let me know what matters to you.”
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