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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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7/19/2014 2:16:00 PM
Prevailing culture of apathy
No one shows for Speak Out AZ rally in Cottonwood

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- A small number of advocates gathered Thursday at the Cottonwood Recreation Center meeting room in attempts to build a fire under public interest in the coming to the primary election with pivotal questions for the state to answer.

But the effort will need more work, locally. Other than members of the press, no public from the Upper Verde Valley turned out for the planned presentation. Unfortunately, that is not atypical.

Peggy Klein of Phoenix represented Speak Out AZ. The goal of the organization is to change the prevailing culture of apathy to one of community involvement and civic engagement.

Robyn Prud'homme-Bauer, of the League of Women Voters and Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens sponsored the meeting, which brought out representatives of Speak Out Arizona and the Arizona We Want.

Prud'homme Bauer and Joens say the primary election is rapidly approaching and often it is the primary election that is more important in choosing people who will take office and represent our communities.

The last day to register for the primary election is July 28. Early voting begins July 31.

The problem is that just over half of registered voters in Arizonans voted in 2011 and 2012 and only 10 percent of those believe that their representatives represent their views.

Both women are worried about the growing number of efforts to prevent people from exercising their right to vote.

Klein says Speak Out AZ works to stimulate community involvement to define issues important to them.

"To bring together individuals parents, teachers to learn what is important and bring resources and give them grassroots support. So that, instead of government being 'top down,' we encourage people grow initiatives from the 'ground up.'"

There are now Speak Out AZ organizations in Flagstaff and many locations in the state. They may not meet every week, but gather around issues. The organization encourage being involved in local communities to promote civic engagement at the local level.

Pinal County has a very active group, according to Klein. It held four programs recently on "education" and has promoted the free iCivics program within schools to teach kids how to define issues and be involved in government with lessons and practice exercises to give children a hand-on approach to learning.

Jennifer Hernandez represented The Arizona We Want, which was launched under the leadership of former Arizona State University President Lattie Coor. Working with the Gallup Poll, conducted by Expect More Arizona sampled public opinion to determine what the public wants to see from Arizona's future.

Lattie Coor will make the presentation "the Arizona We Want" next Wednesday evening at the Yavapai College Library, Building 19, 1100 E. Sheldon St., Prescott, with refreshments at 6 p.m. and the presentation at 6:30. The program is free and open to the public.

Eight commonly held goals were determined from the polling:

• Create quality jobs for all Arizonans

• Prepare Arizonans of all ages for the 21st Century workforce.

• Make Arizona "the place to be" for talented young people.

• Provide health insurance for all, with payment assistance for those who need it.

• Protect Arizona's natural environment, water supplies and open spaces.

• Build a modern, effective transportation system and infrastructure.

• Empower citizens and increase civic engagement

• Foster citizen well-being and sense of connection to one another.

Speak Out AZ helps people ask question of politicians to determine which will move those priorities. For information, see and

-- Contact the reporter at or Twitter@_jhutchinson

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Article comment by: If apathy...

...means a lack of enthusiasm for having our government bureaucracy spend non-existent tax dollars attempting to implement that ill-defined list of goals, count me apathetic.

BTW, the Gallup Poll, which surveyed 3,606 Arizonans to get the results above, cost $525,000. Wouldn't that money have been better spent sending boys to football camp?

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

Hey, let's hear it for Pinal County!!!

Of course, someone could have mentioned iCivics was the brainchild of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who just happens to be one of Arizona's shining pioneers in the realm of Women's Rights. She thought it up, developed it, and worked to make it available to schools nationwide. But anything that nudges SOE Tim Carter toward requiring that all future Yavapai County voters know how their government works and how to participate in civic affairs is a big plus. Those kids might even teach their parents how to evaluate ballot issues.

By the way, I wasn't there because The Arizona We Want agenda turned me off too much to make the effort on short notice. But if I can rearrange family schedules and scare up transportation, I'll attend the next one.

Be careful how you sling the term "apathy," VI. It just might bounce and stick to the event's organizers.If they don't make more than a token effort to invite non-members, few non-members will attend.

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Cottonwood is most apathetic in V.V.

I've heard Lattie Coor speak on this, and would encourage others to hear what he has to say. "The Arizona We Want" is a very good program.

Unfortunately, when it comes to apathy, the city of Cottonwood is the Verde Valley's leader. And it's been that way at least for the past several decades.

Not sure why exactly. Maybe in Cottonwood there's a small cadre of those really involved, and those people tend to do a good job of running things. And everybody else just assumes unless there's a problem there's no need to get involved.

I will say however, when there is a problem, the people of Cottonwood can get just as riled up as those in Jerome or Camp Verde.

Remember the 50 foot woman? The P&Z Commission had to move their meeting to the high school. The public pressure was so intense that Cottonwood finally had to put the hammer down on those people.

So yes in Cottonwood the people are there, but typically show up only when there's a serious problem.

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Apathy or Satisfied?

Jon, I disagree with your assumption that political apathy is a culture around here. I also question the demographics of the poll taken that set up those state priorities. Sounds like urban ideas mostly and could be used for any metro area in the US.

I read the comments regularly and it seems that the same cadre are the main writers. When something truly hit home, like the letter on the football camp, look at how many stood up. THAT was important.

A Thursday meeting in July about politics and organizing grass roots groups to change things probably didn't hit the "need to go" button for most. I don't think we are apathetic. I think most of us have other priorities.
Gov't perfect? No. Good enough to allow me to live in relative freedom from gov't intervention? Yes.

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