Carefree neighbors, I’ve been seeing a lot of negativity posted, in what has become standard practice in elections. I’m not here to bash anyone. I’d like to introduce myself and give you some background, as well as let you know where I stand on important issues in our community. I don’t need your email address in order for you to understand where I stand, I don’t need to tell you, “you need to elect me to find out what I’ll do.” To me that is an insult to your intelligence. You are grown up enough to decide what you feel is best for our community, I’ll just lay out my beliefs and experience in advance for you to read and help you with your decision. If they align with yours, then great. The sky is not falling, and the sun will come out tomorrow…
1. Fire safety is a topic that should be at the top of any list. Rural Metro is going away. Neighboring departments refuse to acknowledge Rural Metro as an automatic aid recipient. What does that mean to us? It means that if there is a fire emergency, neighboring departments reserve the right to refuse service to us. We have three options: 1. Contract with Scottsdale. 2. Contract with Daisy Mountain. 3. Start our own fire department. We are working through all three options and will conduct public meetings where your opinion and voice will be important. All three will be more costly than what we do now, but what we have now is not sustainable. Consider the Cave Creek/Rancho Manana Fires from 2 years ago that came dangerously close to our town. Imagine us not having automatic aid to help battle those fires, now you understand why this is so important to resolve.
2. I have served on the council for four years and am seeking my third term. I found out that it took me nearly my whole first term to understand the nuances of town operations, get to know our staff, and what it takes to work for you, our residents. You cannot have term limits in our town and expect to have a qualified pool of candidates each and every election. Four years ago, six candidates ran for six seats. Two years ago, our mayor ran unopposed. In both instances, there were members of council that would have “termed-out” if we had the current term-limit proposal in place. So then what? No mayor? Only 3 or 4 councilmembers deciding policies for our town? Term limits limit the pool of qualified candidates. We have a term limit in place now, it’s called a vote. If you use it wisely, then the most qualified candidates will be elected.
3. We are in the midst of a 25 year drought. Water sustains our town. We as a water company board (of which I serve), made difficult decisions in the best interests of all of our residents to ensure all of our residents would be served by the same high quality water service. I’ve seen personally the un-inspected fire hydrants half-buried in the ground that were not part of our service area and poor coloration, brown water that were coming out of our residents’ sinks. I made the commitment when I ran in 2018 that we were going to do something about this issue, and it’s done. The transition should be complete by year’s end. In addition, we are adding $1.1 million dollars of annual revenue (and the C.A.P. allocation of the additional accounts) to help pay for this transition. Take a drive over Lake Mead sometime and you will understand why we have operated with a sense of urgency to complete this transition. Current customers served by Carefree water will also benefit from this transition, as important system infrastructure updates (piping) will be made throughout. Regarding eminent domain and the water storage tank being constructed on Tom Darlington, this was a carefully planned public process. Public meetings were held and several sites were surveyed for the most ideal location to house this tank. Ultimately, it was determined that the location on Tom Darlington was found to be the best site, as it was in line with underground utility piping, and its elevation would help to service lower elevation properties on the west side of our town. This buried tank will not serve the northwest corner of Tom Darlington and Carefree Highway.
4. Economic development keeps property taxes at bay. The Hampton Inn (I encourage you to contact GM Todd Cooley and take a tour) is going to be an amazing anchor-tenant to our town core. It’s projected that in a conservative year, the Hampton will contribute $250k of direct tax revenue, and another $500-$750k indirectly, to our town. In addition, it will bring in new people and new businesses. Our downtown merchants eagerly await the Hampton to start operating. We rely on 3% sales tax to fund our town. Please, I encourage you to shop and eat in our town as often as you can.
I can only give you my opinion of what I have directly experienced, while serving our town on our council, and tell you about the people I’ve served with.
First, there is no “secret society.” Every meeting is transparent, with the exception of times that we have had to meet in executive session. Executive session is a necessary component of running an organization. There are things that cannot be disclosed publicly, due to the sensitive nature of those concerns.
Secondly, most of the current councilmembers have been local residents over 20 years. My family moved to Phoenix when I was just 6 months old, in 1972. I am a life-long Arizonan. Our Current mayor graduated from Arcadia High School in Phoenix in the 1960’s (and was a pretty good high school baseball player). Our current Vice-Mayor built his home in Carefree over 30 years ago, and still lives in that same home. Other members of council have been in the desert foothills many years. We are all Arizonan’s and we are all passionate about Carefree. This is a community that is the envy of the country. We take our responsibility to our town very seriously. I am raising my children here, and when my wife and I are one day no longer on this earth, our children will continue to have a home here, if they choose.
We (our council) are all involved in the community outside of just attending a single council meeting each month. John Crane is heavily involved in organizing many of the conservation talks that you see on the town’s schedule, and he is also a long-term board member of the Desert Foothills Land Trust. When I wanted to learn more about serving our community, the first person that called me and met with me was John Crane. He’s always first whenever there is an event: first to show up and set up chairs, first to greet others, first to always be prepared. He’s also always the last one to leave an event after its ended. I’ve made passing comments to him periodically like: “Hey John, let’s have coffee sometime.” I get a call the next day from John to schedule coffee. He is very passionate about this community and its residents. He is very selfless, putting others first. He is most qualified to be our next mayor, hands down. I’ve sat next to him every month for the past four years on the dais (except during the pandemic, as meetings were held virtually), and I see what he is like “behind the scenes.” He is the same person in public that he is away from the public. He will continue to serve our town exceptionally well. John is a very analytical thinker and will evaluate every side of a situation before speaking. He will make a great mayor.
Cheryl Kroyer facilitated/organized the Carefree ambassador program, was involved with me on the committee to improve our signage in town, and is a familiar face to greet many newcomers to our community.
Tony Geiger’s passion has been water quality. That is his background and how he made his living for many years—when he speaks on the topic, people have to listen.
Mike Johnson has been heavily involved in finance his whole career and brought that knowledge to our annual budgetary process.
Steve Hatcher is very knowledgeable on many town operations involving finance as we sat on several panels recently addressing water, fire protection, and street maintenance. I’ve been impressed with his knowledge. His wife is president of our school board, so they have a definite stake in our community’s success.
I also had a chance to meet new candidate Sheila Amoroso before she was a candidate. She helped to lead the public safety committee, examining the fire protection contract and making recommendations.
Can you consider all of the above endorsements? I can tell you that I have worked with each and I know what they can do first-hand for the betterment of our town.
Regarding our town’s finances, despite a pandemic and other financial market collapses of the past 10-15 years, town finances are now at their best in the history of our town! We have over $14,000,000 in cash reserves. We are in great shape as a town, and continue to get better! We have street projects, water, and fire protection to work on, but we are going in the right direction, and much of that is due to stringent fiscal management by our amazing town staff and your council working together.
Where does that leave me? I get asked if I’m running as part of a slate or with this person or that person. At the end of the day, 6 seats plus a mayoral position must be filled. I am a listener, I am a thinker, and I care about people before policy. How will things best benefit ALL of our residents? This is not a paid position, it’s not an ego boost. It’s a calling to serve. If we desire to serve for any reason other than helping our community, then this is not the right fit.
In addition to being married to my best friend and having three amazing kids, I am entrenched in passion for anything to benefit the community. I serve on the Cave Creek School District Strategic Planning Committee, I was president of the Cave Creek Museum during the organization’s most challenging year due to closures of the pandemic, I’m passionate about kids, our seniors, and any cause benefitting our veterans. I’ve been a council liaison for MCSO during events like bike week and other off-peak events, regularly collaborating with our local MCSO Captain on safety concerns in our community. I’ve very involved with our holiday events, such as Christmas and Chanukkah festivals, coordinating our livestreaming so that those that cannot attend in person can at least be present, virtually.
During my tenure with the museum, we worked with Carefree to rename the Sundial Plaza in honor of our most important living pioneer of our town, Gerry Jones. The boulder is from Gerry’s property (he hand-selected it and stood there for nearly 90 minutes with me as he made sure the crane operator placed it EXACTLY the way he felt would show the best). The plaque on the boulder was donated by the museum, and Gerry wrote the inscription. Check it out the next time you are at the Sundial.
I host a local Saturday radio show called the Varsity Sports Show, and it allows me to showcase all of the great things our young people are doing in our community. I also mentor student interns from high schools across the valley, as well as college students from Cronkite-ASU’s school of journalism, Scottsdale Community College, and the University of Arizona. Give the show a listen sometime, so you can hear the amazing young talent featured, Saturday’s from 8-10am on am1060 KDUS Arizona. I am a sports broadcaster and public address announcer for local high schools and ASU Sun Devil Athletics. I truly love the teamwork involved in sports and working with young people.
I am also the proud owner of the first house built in Carefree (1959) and count the home’s builder, Gerry Jones, as a good friend of mine, so preserving our town’s history and culture is very important to me, as well.
I love our town, as I’m sure any other candidate will tell you that they do. I’ve shared with you my concerns, my support, and my transparency. I appreciate you taking the time out to read my story, and am available to meet with you, if you’d like. Please watch this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o36fleBeV4A
Thank you for your time.