By Jeremy Beren / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
(Maricopa, Ariz.) —An opportunity to speak face-to-face with county attorney Kent Volkmer is coming to the Copper Sky Community Center this week.
Volkmer, alongside Maricopa police chief James Hughes, will be available to meet with residents and answer their questions at a "Coffee with Kent and the Chief" event on Aug. 25.
The Pinal County Attorney's Office says the "Coffee with Kent and the Chief" series serves as a chance for attendees to better understand how the criminal justice process works.
The first event was held in the county seat of Florence, with subsequent gatherings in Arizona City, Coolidge, Mammoth, and Queen Creek. Future "Coffee with Kent" events are planned for Eloy, Apache Junction, and Casa Grande in addition to Maricopa.
"We wanted a really good way for our office to be able to connect with people around Pinal County," PCAO community liaison Latisha Joseph told NewsBreak via phone. "It was our goal to have a 'coffee' in the majority of those areas."
A timely event
Volkmer's appearance at the latest "Coffee with Kent" comes as Pinal County officials seek to restore public confidence following several hiccups pertaining to primary and municipal elections held earlier this month.
In July, residents in seven Pinal communities received ballots through the mail that featured incorrect local races or ballots that did not feature the races at all. More than 60,000 supplemental ballots were mailed to those affected by a programming error within the county's elections department.
On Aug. 2, voters who showed up to cast their ballots in-person were dismayed to learn that up to 25 percent of Pinal's precincts ran low on paper ballots or exhausted their supply entirely. Elections Department head David Frisk lost his job following the latest mix-up.
Volkmer on Wednesday announced an Administrative Review into the election would break down the issues that caused the mishaps, and it would present strategies on how to avoid them in the future. The review's results are expected within 45 days.
"What we anticipate getting out of this is what went wrong, why it went wrong and then what can we do to make sure that this does not happen again,” Volkmer said in a separate meeting on Aug. 10, in which he indicated an independent assessment was forthcoming.
Neither Joseph nor Pinal County Public Information Officer Mike Pelton commented further on the election controversies when reached by NewsBreak.
A forum for residents
Pelton described the format of "Coffee with Kent" as tailored specifically to each community. It begins with an overview of the specific town or city, before Volkmer and a guest open up the event for residents to ask questions or to bring topics of discussion to the table.
The event typically lasts between 60 and 90 minutes, and Pelton told NewsBreak he has been impressed with the level of engagement and passion that Pinal residents have shown for their communities as they seek solutions to problems.
"People genuinely do care about their communities," he said. "They come out not just to meet the law enforcement officials that represent their community, but they bring genuine concerns, whether it be traffic or anything that's on their mind."
"Coffee with Kent, and the Chief" begins at 6:00 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday, Aug. 25, inside Maricopa's Copper Sky Community Center, located at 44345 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The event is free to attend.