Karen Watts

Key Facts

Party N/A; nonpartisan election
Race Yuma Mayor
Status Challenger


Karen Watts graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing [2]. Watts is a family nurse practitioner and previously worked at Arizona State University. She has served as a flight nurse, a primary care provider for adults and pediatrics, a provider of hospice care, a practitioner in treating substance abuse patients, and a sexual assault nurse examiner [3]. Karen Watts became a business woman and opened her own medical practice [2]. In 2011, Watts was inducted into the Amberly’s Place Directors Hall of Fame for her outstanding service to victims and their families [1]. 

Watts was first elected to the Yuma City Council in 2018, and currently serves as councilmember. In 2020, she also served as the Deputy Mayor of Yuma [1]. Additionally, Watts has served on the executive board of the Yuma Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Western Arizona Conference of Governments, and the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area [5]. 

Key Issues

Public Safety

Watts states that the safety of the community is her first priority [1]. Watts was the leading advocate for the 2018 pay raise plan for the police and fire departments. She wants to allocate more resources towards addressing violent crime to protect the most vulnerable. Watts says she will continue to push for retention of first responders as she believes Yuma is now facing a critical shortage that must be addressed now [5].


Watts wants to focus on such as wastewater and drought management given that Yuma is situated in a hot desert. She believes a water shortage is looming in Yuma’s future and wants to take steps to sustain the Colorado River to meet Yuma’s needs. She plans to accomplish this by working with farmers and regional leaders who’ve led the way in sustainable technology [5]. Watts would also like to push back against schemes that jeopardize Yuma’s future as other communities target Yuma’s senior water rights [1]. 


Watts wants to prioritize the issue of climate change [4]. As Mayor of Yuma, Watts plans to create a Climate Advisory Committee consisting of Yuma citizens appointed by the Mayor and Council who would propose different options to create a more energy resilient and cleaner city. This committee would study local issues, consult experts, and find solutions specific to Yuma. Watts wants to preserve Yuma’s water, animal, and plant species to increase diversity, slow erosion, and help retain the environment for many future generations [1].  


Watts wants to devise a plan that would increase clean energy options for those who reside in Yuma. Her concern over increasing clean energy options stems from water levels dropping. She believes this affects the generation of electricity and could lead to increased costs of energy. Watts believes that Yuma leaders need to be prepared and take advantage of renewable sources of energy, especially solar power to save money [5]. 


Watts believes that one of Yuma’s biggest challenges is the increasing cost of living. She wants to cooperate with her constituents to ensure the local government recognizes the need to run efficiently, keep services affordable, and stay reliable. She believes the City can help by keeping taxes low while maintaining the quality of services, increasing incentives for investors/developers to build more housing, supporting public safety institutions, and keeping experts with experience in the city [4].


Watts is concerned with Yuma’s transportation infrastructure and believes there is a lack of accessibility to safe and well-maintained roads. As Mayor, she plans to address these issues with the addition of bus stops, shades, and other safety features which increase walkability. She also wants to invest in increasing bike safety and the connectivity of current paths. She believes this would address concerns including traffic, health, and quality of life [1].


Watts feels there needs to be more local housing. If elected, she wants incentives for more multi-housing to be built. She wants to get to know experts and stakeholders and get them together and figure out how to encourage development [4]. 


To prevent illegal immigration, Watts believes that it requires a team effort with surrounding communities. She wants to work alongside nearby cities such as San Luis, Somerton, because she believes border security is not just a Yuma problem [4]. 


United Yuma Firefighters Association; Rio Colorado Yuma Chapter 7- Arizona Nurses Association


1 Karen Watts
2 Arizona List
3 City of Yuma
5 Yuma Sun
6 Facebook