1976 -- Jimmie Runs for County Supervisor
I was out of office starting June 1975. In those years the County Supervisor was James Kortsen, a real nice fellow, a farmer in Stanfield. He’d been on the high school board and had served as supervisor for ten years with two more years to go. I was out of office approximately a year and some people came to me and said, “Casa Grande is the biggest town in the county and we don’t have representation on the Board of Supervisors.” He didn’t like to do cooperative agreements with Casa Grande. He was a little abrupt. Would I consider running?
The bottom line is, I ran against the incumbent Mr. Kortsen in 1976 and beat him in the primary. Both of us were Democrats. I had no opposition in the November election. January 1, 1977 I took office.
Supervisor was a part-time job in those years. I would put in 15-20 hours per week. I ran my cleaners all the time and meet with the road foreman each day at the cleaners. We built the Casa Grande City-County building in my first term and paid cash for it. After the building was open I tried to establish some office hours and wean people from coming into the cleaners but I didn’t have a secretary or any staff. I’d be out there from 1-3. Nobody would come to see me. I always had something to read, but I was frustrated because I knew things were stacking up for me to do at the cleaners. Invariably, as soon as I’d return to the cleaners somebody would come in wanting to talk about the county. I’d say, “Could you come back tomorrow during my office hours?” And they’d get irritated and say “You’re getting awfully high handed. We’ve talked to you for twelve years as a City official. Now you want us to make an appointment!” I probably tried that for six months. Finally, I just had the phone transferred so that the county number rang in my business.
My help took the calls and complaints or else I answered the phone direct unless I was busy or out doing pick-up and delivery, too. I had a scanner so I could hear the highway maintenance men and I had a county radio in my delivery truck. If I heard something that needed action right away, I knew about it and did what needed to be done right away. Otherwise, it waited until the next day when the foreman came in. That’s how I did it for about the next six years, ‘til 1985.
The Board of Supervisors met on Monday of each week. I would be in Florence all day. They were marathon meetings because we didn’t have “consent agendas” then. One motion, one second can cover things on the “consent agenda.” We used to have people in there shuffling in and out way into the evenings. In the afternoons I’d be running things down for constituents or having other meetings.
I served two four-year terms and then I chose not to run because the amount of work last couple of years had been picking up. It was taking more and more time. Pinal County was growing and having more problems. There was double digit inflation so we didn’t have enough money to do what we wanted to do. It was frustrating. But the biggest thing was that people expected me to be there all the time, or go night after night to meetings or out to see something. I couldn’t afford it. The job paid a lot better than the mayor’s job ever paid--$15,000. However, I had two kids in college with a third coming up so it was costing me more than that. I couldn’t afford the luxury of politics. I had to make a living for my family and educate my children.
The Legislature sets supervisors’ salaries. At that time, what they did was set the salary when you started your first term and it would remain the same for four years. Soon thereafter they deviated from that and started giving annual increases, probably because of the double digit inflation, growth in the state, more for the supervisors to do. I was out for eight years. When I came back they stopped that annual increase and set my salary at $37,500 for four years with no raises.