Members of the U.S. House and Senate are on recess for another two weeks, and state senators and representatives are busy jockeying for position for their pet bills for the 2020 session starting next January.
This is the perfect time for residents to make their voices heard when it comes to what they want their elected officials to do.
Or rather, it should be the perfect time.
The reality is almost none of us will spot an elected official in the wild anytime soon.
U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran usually makes two or three stops in Greenlee and Graham counties a year and, considering his district is the 11th-largest geographically in the nation — at 55,000 square miles — we really can’t ask for more than that. He was here in April and June, so expecting him to make a stop here this recess is probably asking a bit too much.
However, it’s not too much to ask one of our U.S. senators to make a stop here — specifically Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who has yet to set foot in these two counties since being elected. In fact, she didn’t bother to make a stop in Greenlee or Graham during her campaign, either.
Sinema’s fellow senator, Martha McSally, has stopped in the area twice — once during the 2018 campaign and again this past February — so she at least knows where we are.
Maybe that’s the problem with getting Sinema here — maybe she doesn’t realize that Greenlee and Graham are actually part of Arizona. Perhaps she thinks we’re in New Mexico and not people whom, at least on paper, she represents.
As to our members of the state Legislature, we can’t remember the last time we saw them up this way. State Sen. David Gowan and state Reps. Gail Griffin and Becky Nutt spend almost all their time in Cochise County, where they live. At least, we think they all live there — we know Gowan and Griffin do, but we’ve never really locked down where Nutt lives. We know she has a home in Greenlee County, but nobody up here actually sees her during the legislative recess.
We expect to see Gowan, Griffin and Nutt in Duncan next month because that’s when the County Fair will take place. And politicians love a county fair — heavy on the hand-shaking and light on being challenged over voting records.
Plus this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Greenlee County Fair, so it’s the perfect time for a politician to attend and take a few photos for the 2020 election mailers that will be going out come next January or February.
Because we’re a small voting block, politicians at the state and federal level just don’t need us, so we don’t rank high on their list of concerns. Cochise County has 72,853 registered voters as of July 1, while Greenlee has 4,650 and Graham 18,533. The only way Greenlee and Graham can overcome Cochise’s legislative influence is with 100-percent voter turnout and Cochise turning out at no more than 31 percent, and that’s not going to happen.
We’d love to be able to sit down with the people who represent us and chat about the issues that matter most to our communities — everything from farmers losing their livelihoods over water rights to crumbling infrastructure to adequate funding for public education. We just don’t see that happening anytime soon and, unfortunately, we don’t know how to change that.
Editor's note: This story was edited Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, at 5:08 p.m., to correct the hoe ownership status of Becky Nutt.