Issue of firefighter benefits splits town of Prescott

The issues surrounding the Granite Mountain Hotshots are causing a political divide. So much so, the debate could impact the Prescott mayoral race.

The "Prescott 19" were killed June 30 when a wildfire overcame them in the small town of Yarnell.

"As a community, it has brought us closer together. Everyone either knew a Hotshot or knew of them," said Jerri Boyd who lives in Prescott.

And in the days and weeks after the tragedy, Prescott never felt closer. The community came together to raise money for the families of the 19 heroes. But the same tragedy that united the community, soon created a political divide.

"It has certainly changed the dynamics of everything," said Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall.

Kuykendall hasn't had a lot of time to campaign since the cities only Hotshot team was killed. He's spent most of his time trying to sort out issues with the families and the future of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The Mayor has his supporters.

"They city can't afford to pay them and I support his resolution to the Granite Mountain Hotshots, he's doing a good job," said voter Keith Horst.

The biggest criticism he's faced is the exchange he had with one of the widows at a council meeting workshop earlier this month. Amanda Marsh requested to speak at the meet once it was over, but the Mayor told her she wasn't allowed.

"She's a widow, but she's also human and she needs to respect what we are trying to do," said Kuykendall.

"It didn't look very good. It seems you should have given the widow some time to say a few words," said Lindsay Bell.

Bell is running against Kuykendall. Her platform is transparency.

"This council meeting does a lot of executive sessions and they have cut the number of meetings in which they accept public input," said Bell.

But all that matters to some voters is for their leaders to take a stand.

"These men all died the same way, they sacrificed. We will see when the race takes place," said Boyd.

Since there are only two candidates running for Mayor in the primary, this race will decide who will be Prescott's next mayor. The results will be in after 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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