Over the last couple of months, I have been asked over and over how I ever got interested in politics. This is probably going to surprise some of you, but here’s what happened:

Prior to 1983, I was blissfully ignorant of anything having to do with politics. I probably could have named the President and maybe the Mayor

— but would have gotten lost after that.

My family and I were living on Laramie Way at the time. My children were 3 and 5, I was going to USD full-time and doing some part-time income tax preparation to make ends meet.

One day we received a notice in the mail of a proposed development in the beautiful canyon behind our home. There was a meeting of the Navajo Community Planning Group to discuss the development, so Tom (my husband) thought we should attend. I can’t say I was enthusiastic, but we went. The meeting was well-attended, but extremely frustrating – the Planning Group was talking to the developer about the design, etc. I wanted to go home, so I finally stood up and asked why they were discussing the roofs of the new houses when everyone in the room wanted no development at all. That’s how I became a co-chair of the committee to stop the development.

We lived at one end of the canyon and Joe and Lesley Frazier lived at the other. Our families teamed up to put flyers out at the hundreds of homes around the canyon and ended up with quite a group of concerned neighbors. While Navajo Community Planners had no official position on the development, the Planning Group’s Chairwoman, Judy McCarty started attending our meetings. She thought it would be helpful for me to meet our City Council member, so she introduced me to Dick Murphy. Tom had to explain to me what a council member’s role in the process was.

After several months of haggling with the owner/developer, we determined that the only fair way to stop the development and save the canyon was to ask the city to buy the land for a community park. Murphy believed the community needed more parks, so he was willing to take the issue to City Hall. Murphy also said that it was hard to save something that had no name, so he quickly dubbed the canyon Rancho Mission Canyon. Previously, it had the title of “Navajo I & II” or something equally compelling.

Murphy said he needed people to attend the City Hall meetings to prove that the community supported a new park. I recall telling him that we probably could get a large turnout to one or two meetings, but no more … so he needed to pick and choose. Tom, I, and the Frazier’s were willing to attend others “on behalf” of the committee. Well, our committee and/or representatives appeared at numerous meetings.

We all signed petitions, wore stickers, car-pooled, etc. I had no idea of what each of the meetings were … I just remember that there were a lot of them and it seemed like a pretty slow process to me. But in the end, the city decided to make an offer on the land.

Murphy left office to become a judge. His parting words to me on the park were that there was a big difference between an offer and a sale and that we could still lose the canyon park if we didn’t pay attention.

He also asked if I was going to remain active in the community. I laughed and said no, that this was it. He wasn’t amused and suggested that I re-think that statement — that everyone has an ongoing obligation to their community.

The chairwoman of the planning group, Judy McCarty ran for Murphy’s council seat and was elected. We did pay attention to City Hall and our new park and it was a good thing. There were many bumps between that initial offer and the final closing of escrow. In fact, escrow did not close until January 1988. Meanwhile, Judy McCarty suggested that I run for the Navajo Community Planning Group. And so it began.

In the photo, you can see us burning the development plans. That’s me on the left. No blond jokes.


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