Zaborsky, Hakim recall McCain as a friend
BULLHEAD CITY — As the world watches the funeral procession of one of Arizona’s most well known senators, the Tri-state remembers his impact on it personally and professionally.
John McCain was an American hero, recognized around the world for his long-time service to Arizona and the United States, and his ability to work across the aisle, much to the dismay of many Republican politicians, said Jim Zaborsky, former Mohave County District 2 supervisor.
“I’m proud to say that I could call John and Cindy (McCain) friends,” Zaborsky said. “He will be remembered for a long time, not just as a politician, but as a friend and mentor.”
McCain served as a U.S. senator representing Arizona from 1987 to his death Aug. 25 from brain cancer.
“As a county supervisor, I worked many times with John on projects that I needed state or federal assistance,” Zaborsky said. “I had to do my homework on any project we would work on. He always had a lot of questions, but also he had a lot of answers. John would assign a staff member to work with me and would call to follow up on our progress.”
Former Bullhead City mayor Jack Hakim fondly recalled the man well-known for his maverick spirit after five years as a POW in Vietnam.
“I loved the man,” Hakim said. “McCain shook a lot of hands and that’s one hand I will always remember. I will always be grateful and be honored that I had the privilege of sitting down with this man and knowing him.”
Hakim noted the senator made at least 15 visits to the city during Hakim’s time on Bullhead City Council and as mayor.
“He was a senator,” Hakim said. “With all of the important things in the nation and in the world, he just took the interest about what was happening in our city. I mean really took the interest — not his staff, him.”
Zaborsky recalled a time when the McCains were in town for a Veterans Day speaking engagement.
“He stopped by our home and we discussed some local issues,” Zaborsky said. “He had been traveling all morning and was very tired, but had the time to make some calls and then asked if he could take a short nap. He used my daughter’s room, which was the talk of all her friends. He used to say that if he could have one wish it would be ‘that everyone could have a home like the Zaborskys.’”
Hakim said McCain had a great sense of humor.
“I had the great honor in 2010 of introducing him and (Ariz.) Gov. Jan Brewer at the VFW hall and that was fun,” Hakim said. “He said, ‘You’re still around?’ and I said, ‘Yes. You’re still running again?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I’m taking another crack at it.’”
When Hakim decided in 2014 not to run for mayor, McCain telephoned during his farewell party.
“He wished me well and he said to me, ‘You did good, my friend. You did good. Good luck’ — that was it,” Hakim said. “And that made me feel so good. It meant a lot, he didn’t have to do that.”
Hakim said he believes McCain was a great man.
“He was so respected, so well liked and with the veterans — oh my goodness, they loved him,” Hakim said. “I hope the next Arizona senator will give rural Arizona the same attention he did.”
McCain worked tirelessly on projects or issues that he knew would be beneficial to all, not just Arizonans, Zaborsky said.
“Rest in peace, John,” Zaborsky said. “You made the world a better place.”