FLIPPING: in the Grand Canyon and Elsewhere

October, 2017: I pulled hard on my raft’s oars to set-up a run thru Horn Creek Rapid in Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. At low water level, this a challenging run.  Ferrying into the current, I saw a motorboat upstream, but it was far away- or so I thought. Just as I reached the rapid, the motorboat swung around and entirely blocked my reference markers. I drifted too far right (there’s real danger in allowing a boat to do so) and when I dropped over the rapids’ crest, I headed straight for the large rock wall. I pulled hard and BAAAMMM!! The downstream oar broke, the raft’s tube shot-up the wall and WHOOOSH, I was under an upside-down boat in turbulent water.  It took a minute, or longer, to hand-crawl out from under the boat, came up gasping for air, and shivering in the frigid water. Fellow boatmen got my boat to the rocky shore where someone pulled me out and ripped clothes off my hypothermic body. Wrapped in a towel, I slowly warmed while other boatfolk flipped my boat right side up. I slept like a baby that night.

Then, August 4, 2020.  I’d been consistently working on my County Supervisor campaign: sending monthly newsletters, putting up yard signs, talking with voters and raising money for the long run. I visited four Navajo Chapter Houses with plans for more, then COVID-19 came and locked-down the Navajo Nation. Navajo and other leaders told me to stay home, don’t spread the virus. I followed their advice. I mailed ~7,000 postcards, 500 personalized letters, set-up 150 yard-signs, made over 1000 phone calls.  The primary election came and early results showed me down by 150 votes, at bedtime with 30% of results, I was down by 200 so I said the serenity prayer and slept like a baby. I rose with the sun, checked the results – down by 300 votes.

Late morning, I called my challenger and she was herding sheep, didn’t have internet connection, didn’t know she had won. Judy Begay is a wonderful Navajo woman who put herself through grad school, served several years on the Tuba City School Board, worked to create housing for Navajos, and raised her kids while caring for her elderly mother. I endorse Judy Begay for County Supervisor, District 4.

The parallels between the two stories are obvious, but what’s the lesson?  I didn’t pull hard enough into the current — only 30% of the eligible voters voted in this primary, meaning that 3 people have decided what the other 7 can now do. I didn’t take the motorboat seriously – the COVID-19 upset my campaign and I needed to reach more people, more quickly. I knew I had to stay off of the wall at the rapid –I got advice that seemed wise at the time but I needed to double my efforts– earlier.  In all, I needed to do what we now need to do for our country.

Our democracy is on the ballot. The analogy, while intriguing, is real. We need ALL hands-on deck:

  • to find, read and understand verified information (not the Fake-News or Twitter hyperbole),
  • to make sure that we have a quality census that represents everyone, per the Constitution,
  • to properly fund the Postal Service and the viability of mail-in ballots,
  • to seriously consider how our vote impacts our children’s future and the society they will live in.


We can’t afford another upside-down election.  We need a FLIP, but in the Arizona House and Senate, in the US Senate, and in the White House. Anything less and we will betray the dream of true patriots’ who fought against tyranny in 1776 which is similar to the tyranny we face today. But now, we do so with our vote.  I may have lost my race, but I won’t stand by and lose our democracy. Please, get involved.


Bryan Bates, Citizen

Time to Vote!

I’ve spent the better part of the last year talking to as many voters as I can. Now it is time for you to vote in the Primary Election. I humbly ask for your vote.

If you haven’t already taken the opportunity to return your ballot by mail or early-vote in person, please make a plan to do so before 7 p.m. on Tuesday!  August 4 is Primary Election Day and polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Please take a moment today and call three friends to remind them to vote — for me if they live in District 4!

Our County Recorder Patty Hansen and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs have taken many steps to make voting safe. Many polling places have been moved to larger venues in order to allow for social distancing. There will be plexiglass shields for the poll workers and hand sanitizer. Please take your own pen! Everyone entering a polling place must wear a mask. For the few who cannot wear masks, curbside voting will be offered with two poll workers carrying your ballot to and from your car. Not sure where you’re polling place is? Here is a way to find it.

On Tuesday, anyone who lives in the County may vote at three Vote Centers, regardless of where their local polling place is. These Vote Centers are the Flagstaff Mall (where the old Denny’s used to be — use that exterior entrance), the NAU Skydome, and the Tuba City High School.

In addition, anyone who is concerned about COVID exposure or has any other emergency that prevents them from voting on Tuesday may vote on Monday at any of the County’s emergency voting locations. Here is a list of locations and hours for emergency voting.

If you received your ballot by mail, it is too late to return it by mail.  Here are your options if you live in District 4:

  • Take it to one of the county drop boxes before 7 pm on Tuesday — take it today if you can!  Here is where those boxes are.
  • Return it to the County Elections Offices at the Flagstaff Mall (next to Dillards) on Monday from noon to 5 pm
  • Return it to the County drive-through service window at 2304 N. 3rd St, Flagstaff on Monday from 8 am to 5 pm
  • Return it to the Tuba City Elections Office in the Basement of Tuba City Library on Monday from 8 am to noon (local time — DST)
  • Take it to your polling location or one of the Vote Centers on Tuesday between 6 am and 7 pm


Time To Be Firewise

With mid-summer’s monsoon winds upon us (and rain hopefully following), I ask everyone to be super careful with fire. Our forests are critically dry and could easily become a catastrophic wildfire.

If followed by rain, devastating floods could happen. We’ve seen this time and time again, where homes are saved from fire only to be ruined by flood.

A wildfire now would make fire crews even more susceptible to COVID-19 with their close quarters and stress of fighting fire. Please, be “fire-wise” and call 911 if anyone’s playing with fire.

Wildland fires are an issue I’ll work hard on if you help me become County Supervisor.

Update on the Doney Park Planning Committee

In the July 9 Doney Park-Fernwood-Timberline (DPFT) Planning Committee meeting (I’m co-Chair), we finished the information presentations with an overview of the County’s budget and finances.

We then learned about the Flagstaff Comprehensive Regional Plan and how the DPFT region could tie into the City’s plan. 

We identified key principles we’ll use as guidelines when we began to discuss policy. The next virtual DPFT planning meeting is 5:00 pm, August 13. Please contact me if you’d like to attend.

Sheriff Bear Arrests Bates!

Sheriff Teddy Bear arrested Coconino County Supervisor candidate Bryan Bates and is
transporting him in the stagecoach jail to the Coconino Community College 4th of July Shoebox Parade. This 37-year Doney Park renegade and 40-year science teacher is been charged with supporting local governance, informing the community, and
working for our health and environment.

Sheriff Bear will be hauling Bates in the parade at 10 am on July 4 at in the CCC Shoebox Parade, Coconino Community College’s virtual
4th of July Parade.

Without your help, Bates may not be released to get out to plead his case to the general public.  Help him raise bail (campaign funds) to assure he gets a fair trial. Let liberty and justice for all prevail!  Contribute here.

A Summer Solstice Wish

Each year, the Earth orbits the Sun in an ellipse or oblong circle.  This and the tilt of the Earth’s spin axis accounts for the annual change in day length, thus the seasons. Humans, and other species, have observed this repeated cycle for time immemorial. If a human culture remains at the same location over years and they create a fixed observation point, then they can anticipate points in seasonal time at which the Sun appears to be at its furthest northern or southern point (summer or winter solstice), the midpoint (equinoxes) or points at which the rate of day length change changes (cross-quarter dates). Today, June 20, 2020, is the summer solstice. 

Amongst the “Ancestral Puebloan” cultures, this is a time of great reverence. For the Hopi, this is the Nimanywa or the time at which the Katcinas, the spiritual essence of those who lived and passed away, return to the San Francisco Peaks.  These Katcinas will return as wind carrying clouds that bring rain and provide for the growth of their crops. To the Hopi, “Water is Life.” To the Navajo, who wandered about and did not have consistent points to observe the horizon, they predicted this time by constellations. For the Navajo, this is the time by which you better have your crops planted or you’ll lose them to a fall frost. To the Euro-American culture, this is the monsoons.  For more on this, join me Monday, June 22, at 7:00 pm for Coconino Community College’s broadcast on www.coconino.edu/community-education.

As we observe this seasonal time and begin the slow march back to the winter solstice with the first apparent northward shift of the Sun on December 25, let’s take a few moments to appreciate our friends, community, and natural beauty that we live in.  Let’s recognize that the differences between our ancestral histories come largely from observing nature’s cycles and using obtained information in ways that helped those of that culture survive and celebrate. Let’s respect the diversity of cultures just as we respect the diversity of life. Let’s take the time to talk with others who may have different skin colors, different behaviors, different abilities. Talking with and learning from each other will help us reunite as a community, a nation, and a planet. Let’s respect that each one of us and all cultures matter.

 Bryan Bates

Consider more than safety when it comes to students

Per the Arizona Republic, 06/01/2020, Arizona’s Secretary of Education, Kathy Hoffman, consulted with over 100 people and has released the Roadmap for Reopening Arizona Schools, providing guidance in actions schools can take while leaving the decision-making up to the local school leaders. Some of the guidance:

  • Run classes on intermittent schedules, take employees’ and students’ temperatures, and potentially require facemasks.
  • Disinfect buses and school facilities vigorously.
  • Plan curriculum that is adaptable to in-class, outdoors, and online modalities.
  • Review expectations and last year’s instruction before beginning new material. 
  • Recognize students (&/or families) may have experienced trauma and provide for counseling. 

These steps provide direction and provide for local decision-making and adaptability.

With the State anticipating a $1 Billion deficit, the major question is: where’s the money? First, all CARES education money should go to public schools because it is tax dollars, despite Betsy DeVos’ plan to fund private schools.  The Governor should take State “rainy day” funds and funnel them into public education to maintain the “Red for Ed” pay raises. The State can layoff lawyers and consultants to partially compensate for the remaining funds needed. Tax cuts to wealthy and corporations should be stopped or taxes temporarily increased, but taxes on and lower- and middle-income families should either be forgiven or reduced. The Governor, having sold his home for a hefty profit, could donate that sum to partially repay the lack of education funding under his administration. 

Shortcutting quality education will cause more problems down the road. Our (grand-)children have suffered enough and now is the time for more funds to be invested in public education. Improved public education will pay-off by keeping and bringing more businesses and employers to AZ. Let’s focus on our children’s needs, and build smart so that we will get there without further trauma.

Working to Help Our Navajo and Hopi Neighbors

Many of us take for granted how easy it is for use to apply the first principle of COVID-19 precautions: “Wash your hands.”  It’s not so easy when you have no running water.

I volunteered and built hand wash stations for Navajo and Hopi homes via the native-owned company Red Feather on May 30 and look forward to volunteering again in the future dates to help our community.

The Arizona Daily Sun published an article about this effort today.