A Vision of Public Safety for Yavapai County

As a gallery owner and businessman on Whiskey Row for over forty years I have seen our county change. Decades ago, I stated that I wanted to see as many art galleries as bars in downtown Prescott. This vision has come to pass, and I am delighted in the atmosphere that has developed in downtown Prescott. The charm of the courthouse square has anchored Prescott and Yavapai County as a tourist destination and our local businesses are better for it. Our charm, and our economy is protected, and nourished by the sense of safety people feel when they are in Prescott. We need to keep this aspect of our town alive as we grow into the future.

One of the reasons I support the Justice Center is that it will help Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office continue to lead our state in its approach to justice. By integrating mental health and courts into the new Justice Center facility court sentencing times will be reduced, travel costs will be decreased and essential treatment for people who should receive mental health support rather than incarceration will be provided. As Yavapai County grows it is important to be prepared for the growth that is coming. The new Justice Center is a step in the right direction because it provides local law enforcement with tools to be more efficient and space to implement programs that help people and reduce recidivism. In the long run this is a win for all of us.

Public safety is anchored by an effective space from which law enforcement can protect and serve the public. It is enhanced by an approach to community health that provides adequate mental health services and informs the public about safety protocols and any dangers that may face us. We can’t underestimate the importance of an informed and educated public in maintaining community health. County health services are essential in keeping our community and economy safe and thriving.

Another aspect of community health and public safety is the preservation of our open space and the natural world around us. From the courthouse square to the granite dells to the Verde River we are responsible to be the stewards of these treasures with so many opportunities for recreation. Maintaining our quality of life helps keep us healthy and safe. We must balance the relationship between water, growth, and open space so we can retain what we love as we grow into the future. 

The county can further contribute to our safety and health by playing a role in how we preserve open space. The county should be at the table in when discussing the establishment of a regional park in the Granite Dells. Our health and long-term safety are served by the county looking for ways to preserve open space throughout Yavapai County.

As a county supervisor I would work to push our legislature to change Arizona water policy so that we could develop a comprehensive county wide water plan that can ensure the future safety of our community by maintaining safe yield and preserving the aquifer that feeds the Verde River.

Ultimately, the health and safety of our county is reinforced by the vitality of our economy. It would serve us well to consider ways to strengthen our economic sovereignty. We are well positioned both as a county and a state to more fully harvest the potential of solar energy. I’d like to see us explore how to be involved in the development of solar energy and to even consider the potential economic and security benefits of developing and maintaining our own energy grid like Page, Arizona does.

An often over-looked and forgotten, but critical part of community health and safety is the responsibility of our leaders to lead dialogue around the issues challenging us – and to be transparent and accountable in the process. Years of customer service on Whiskey Row have prepared me to care for our community health and advocate for the full spectrum of public safety. I intend to be a bridge between the county and the people it serves.

These are undoubtedly challenging times, but it is important to keep a vision of the future we want and how to get there together safely. We don’t want to Maricopa our Yavapai. The key to that is maintaining a full spectrum vision of community health needs and public safety. I look forward to promoting a vision that protects us all while serving you as county supervisor.
John Lutes
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