Mohave County Supervisor Gary Watson of District 1 has been planning his retirement for a couple of years now, going for a nice, round dozen years in office.
“How else do you make a difference,” he asked, answering with a question when asked what attracted him to politics in the first place.
“My interest in public service probably started when I was in high school,” he told the Miner on Monday, Nov. 9, not even two months before his official retirement. “I was the student body president” in high school in 1966-67.
A Kingmanite since first grade when he attended Palo Christi Elementary School, Watson, now 71, got involved in county politics in 2008, after already serving as Kingman vice mayor from 1978 to 1982, very much like the next District 1 Supervisor, Travis Lingenfelter. Until then, Watson was in private industry.
“Water, obviously,” he said, when asked what is the biggest challenge his successor is facing.
Watson believes that the county now understands its long-term water needs and how to proceed with the Hualapai Valley Basin aquifer that Kingman and the surrounding area relies on.
“A serious look at recharge is the only viable solution” is his advice. “It will not cure the problem, but it will extend the life of the aquifer,” he said.
Watson also mentioned challenges that come with the increased population of the county, which was quite empty when he arrived here as a child from Phoenix.
“There are 2,000 miles of roads in Mohave County,” Watson said. “More people means more demand on that infrastructure.”
His days, and occasionally nights, are filled with phone calls from constituents struggling with zoning issues or property issues. Or cattle issues. Or concerns about hazardous buildings that endanger the community.
“I’m fortunate to be in District 1,” he said, adding “which is, of course, in my opinion, the best district.”
Talking about his successes, Watson first talks about the county as the organization, and by organization he means people of award-winning quality.
“One of the strongest in the state,” he said about Mohave County and its preparedness to serve its residents well into the future.
Investing in people is one key; another is investing in county facilities.
It all goes back to 1999 when the board initiated the quarter-cent sales tax that provided funding for 20 years worth of work, including the county administration building and the soon-to-be-ready law and justice center.
The tax was voted out in 2018 and now the county has to be more careful with money, but Watson said he is proud of those new buildings.
Married for 49 years, Watson said he is proud of his daughter and family. He is an avid reader of James Patterson. For over 60 years he has been raising horses.
“I am pleased to be in good health and look forward to spending at least one day a week in a saddle,” he said.
There are a number of projects he has planned for his upcoming retirement in Clarks Canyon, where he keeps his livestock, and in his Hualapai cabin.
“Little fishing, little hunting,” Watson said. “Still very active.”
Watson attended school in Kingman for grades 1-12. He graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. He managed the family business, a bakery and perishable food distribution company, from 1976-91.