“Compromise And Bipartisanship Are Not Dirty Words.”

This week, Democratic Perspective spoke with James Ledbetter, founder of the Cottonwood law firm bearing his name. He is President of the Mingus Union School Board and currently serves on the Boards of Northern Arizona Healthcare, the Verde Valley Medical Center, Flagstaff Medical Center and Sedona Medical Center.

Mr. Ledbetter is also active within a number of community agencies throughout Northern Arizona. He was a founding Director for the Boys & Girls Club of Cottonwood. He has served as a Board Member for United Way for Northern Arizona, the Verde Valley Fair Association and has provided volunteer legal services to a number of agencies, including the Sedona Center for the Arts, the Women’s Sanctuary of Cottonwood, Jazz On The Rocks, and the Old Town Mission.

With the Old Town Mission, Mr. Ledbetter established a pro bono legal clinic and worked to secure State and Federal licensures to operate a free medical clinic for the homeless and working poor.

If all that isn’t enough, Mr. Ledbetter has been appointed by Arizona Governors to serve on education, liability and healthcare task forces, and in February, 2010, he was appointed to a Congressional health care advisory board. He is recognized by his peers as one of Arizona’s Finest Lawyers, one of just 222 out of more than 21,000 attorneys in the state.

Mike Cosentino and Bill Timberman began our interview by asking about Ledbetter’s involvement in politics. “I’ve worked as an adviser to the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) over the years,” he replied. “I write policy statements on health care and education, and I travel to Washington once a year to look at candidates and potential candidates.”

When asked about the upcoming presidential election, he commented, “I believe Governor Romney will be the GOP candidate despite the fact that he hasn’t been able to get above 25 percent in the Republican polls. He’s somewhat of a moderate and he’s well-financed, having spent $18 million in Iowa. Romney needs others to stay in the race as long as possible to divide the other 75 percent.”

“The coming election is a referendum on President Obama,” Ledbetter continued. “He’s done a good job as Commander-In-Chief, better than most would have imagined. But the economy will play a big part in the election.”

When asked about the possibility of running for office himself, Ledbetter replied, “My wife reminded me that it’s a very long commute to Washington. In other words, she and the family would not live there. It’s not a place to raise kids.”

That hasn’t stopped Mr. Ledbetter from playing a role in the electoral process. He has supported numerous candidates, including former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick. “I went to the same high school as Ann. We both practiced law in Flagstaff. She was always well-prepared. Ann received some good news recently when Congressman Paul Gosar announced that he will move to District 4 for the next campaign. Ann will have a good shot at reclaiming her seat as the redrawn CD-1 will probably lean Democratic by 9 points.”

Having worked for both Democratic and Republican candidates in the past, Ledbetter is dismayed by the current political climate. “Compromise and bipartisanship are not dirty words,” he said.

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