The new era of political leadership in the Verde Valley is now taking form.
Jerome quickly transitioned its mayoral leadership from Lew Currier to Frank Vander Horst after the November election. Tuesday, Tim Elinski assumed the mayoral chair in Cottonwood and will lead a city council that has several new faces.
In Camp Verde, Dee Jenkins and Alan “Buck” Buchanan have been seated on the Town Council and Jessie Jones-Murdock – a thoughtful emerging leader in Verde Valley politics – is the town’s new vice mayor.
The final piece of the political puzzle will be in place when Randy Garrison is sworn in as the new District 3 county supervisor.
Once all these new faces become familiar with their immediate tasks at hand, the Verde Valley’s city and town councils need to come together with Supervisors Garrison and Tom Thurman and collectively discuss the common needs and challenges facing the Verde Valley.
Disagreement on issues is to be expected.
Compromise for the common good is desired.
Of course, nothing is ever set in stone with so many different political players on the chess board. Case in point: In the 1990s, the mayors of Cottonwood and Camp Verde made a handshake agreement that neither would extend their corporate limits through annexation along the SR 260 corridor. The agreement was based on a belief that land between Cottonwood and Camp Verde should be left alone as open space.
That agreement was suddenly forgotten when an auto dealership was granted county approval to do business about mid-way between the two communities. Camp Verde annexed all the way to the dealership and today views the 260 corridor integral to its economic development strategy.
Obviously, in that era, something was lost in translation between Cottonwood, Camp Verde and Yavapai County as to what was best for the Verde Valley. There was a breakdown in communication.
Such is the challenge in this new political era in the Verde Valley. Weighing the choices of what is best for individual jurisdictions vs. how it impacts the Verde Valley as a whole is the ultimate test of leadership.
Communication is the key.
Jurisdictional boundaries are one thing. Community is another.
The Verde Valley is one community.