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FLORENCE — Six Pinal County residents, most of them saying the county was already well on its way to meeting the goals of the proposed federal HR 1, spoke in defense of the legislation before the Pinal County Board of Supervisors Wednesday.

Two weeks ago, a dozen people urged the board to oppose the bill and heard sympathetic replies from some supervisors.

Also known as the “For the People Act,” HR 1 would expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, limit partisan gerrymandering and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders.

Dave Coward of Gold Canyon said he had read HR 1, and fears of a federal takeover of elections are unfounded. “Most of the intent of HR 1 is already in place by your direction and approval,” he told the board Wednesday.

For example, the board has provided a mobile van to register voters, accept early ballots and offer early voting, among the county’s other efforts to make it easier for citizens to vote, “none of which would be in conflict with HR1,” Coward said.

Ralph Atchue of Eloy said in contrast to some supervisors’ comments on April 21, “HR 1 actually expands and protects American citizens’ voting rights,” and the integrity of the process is important. “Keep in mind, they actually do still have elections in Russia and China. Just ask presidents Putin and Xi,” Atchue said.

Rhonda Olson of Eloy said the federal legislation is needed, especially since bills have been introduced in Arizona and other states to restrict voting rights.

Also addressing the board was County Attorney Kent Volkmer, who expressed thanks to those who presented the Pinal County Peace Officers Memorial Service Tuesday night. Board Chairman Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, added his appreciation as well and said the ceremony was “moving” and “well done.”

Roberto Reveles of Gold Canyon renewed his call for audits of the elections and sheriff’s departments, “to help restore respect for two of our country’s most troubled institutions.”

In other business Wednesday:

  • County Manager Leo Lew said the county’s public health clinics in San Tan Valley, Casa Grande and Apache Junction won awards for outstanding practices in childhood immunizations. “All of those clinics were performing at 85% or better for childhood immunizations, even during the pandemic,” Lew said.
  • The board reappointed Miller to the Pinal County Water Augmentation Authority through May 7, 2023. Miller recused himself from the vote. The board also reappointed Fredrick K. Schneider and John Lenderking to the PCWAA.
  • The board appointed Rudy Lujan to fill the remainder of Nancy Discher’s term as justice of the peace in Precinct No. 5, from June 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2022. Discher, who had served the Copper Corridor Justice Court representing Oracle, Mammoth, Superior, Kearny, Eaglecrest Ranch, Saddlebrooke Ranch and Saddlebrooke, retired in January.

Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at