Voters get first look at candidates

The Cave Creek Infamous Bulletin Board hosted the first of several candidates’ forums and debates that are being put on for Cave Creek voters. Held at Harold’s, it was a laid back affair hosted by Carefree Councilman Gene Orrico.

First up was a question on open space given to all the candidates. Kristen Lewis: ‘She’s a cowgirl and loves open space, that it’s part of what makes Cave Creek a unique town.’ David Smith’s: ‘It’s what makes Cave Creek Cave Creek, the value placed on open space is significant.’ Ernie Bunch: ‘It’s part of the identity of Cave Creek, calling open space a big chunk of who we are as a Town.’ Tom Augherton: ‘Part of the character of Cave Creek, calling residential zoning of one house per five acres part of open space.’ Paul Diefenderfer: ‘Can’t have too much if it, or sell your soul to get it.’ Eileen Wright: ‘We need to enjoy what we have and find ways to get more.’ Reg Monachino: ‘He lived in New York and read western novels and always dreamed of open space.’ Ron Sova: ‘Open space means low density zoning, but not in Town core or along Carefree Highway.’ Bob Morris: ‘Open space at top of the list.’ Susan Clancy: ‘Open space should be somewhere you can share with your kids and grandkids. How we handle zoning is important.’

Other questions were asked with the subject and the candidate chosen at random by a computer. Water is a big topic currently in Town. The following were responses to the water issue. Ron Sova: ‘The town is allotted 2606 acre feet of water and uses 2043 acre feet.’ His simple answer, ‘Conserve it.’ Bob Morris: ‘The Town does not manage its water. 60 per cent of the Town’s funds are spent on Water. It’s 90 per cent of the problem.’ Susan Clancy: We need to understand the system, not just here but other parts (before it gets to the Town) as well. David Smith: ‘We need to assure the viability of the system that’s been put together from smaller pieces into one. Use the new SCADA system to monitor the system that was not maintained in the past.’

Another area that candidates were asked about was economic development. Eileen Wright: ‘We need to be concerned about zoning and development and ask does fit belong with the Town’s ecology, will it bring sales tax revenue, and does it blend with the character of the Town.’ Reg Monachino: ‘The Town needs an economic development person.’ Tom Augherton: ‘There is a need to work with other entities. Cave Creek and Carefree Councils used to meet twice a year together. Also there need to be more focus on transportation corridors.’

On the issue of traffic, these were some of the candidates’ thoughts. Kristen Lewis: ‘A five, 10, and 20 year plan needs to be created, not just for traffic but for water and development also. There’s a need to handle growth.’ Tom Augherton: ‘More parking has to be available. An alternate way in and out of the core is needed.’ Ernie Bunch: A traffic study was just done for the Town and might need to be dug into a little deeper.’ Eileen Wright: During Bike Week, parking lots should hold bikes, not vendors.’ Paul Diefenderfer: ‘Have signs on the roads leading into town, ‘Cave Creek is our own little piece of Heaven, don’t drive like Hell’. Crosswalks need to be better lit.

Code enforcement was also up for discussion. Ron Sova: He explained how the system works. ‘Resident complaints go to the Town Marshall who investigates the complaint. There is no one that goes out to patrol or enforce codes that way.’ Kristen Lewis: ‘Make sure you abide by what the codes are. Maintain the integrity you want to have.’ Paul Diefenderfer: ‘I’m a big fan of no rules, but if you have them, you should enforce them.’

Ernie Bunch was the only candidate to get the subject of Town’s General Plan. His response: ‘It’s not ordinances, not codes, it’s just a general plan to shoot for.’
Some candidates voiced their views on the matter of zoning. Bob Morris: ‘Rules need to be followed and commercial is encouraged in the areas already zoned that way.’ Susan Clancy: ‘The Council needs to follow zoning and the public needs to read the General Plan to see what the zoning is.’  Reg Monachino: ‘Zoning is one of the most valuable tools the Town has to control growth’

All candidates were asked to tell the audience what they would do on their first day if elected. Ernie Bunch: ‘Increase Revenues, look at things under a microscope and also look at them from 30,000 feet.’ Eileen Wright: ‘I’m glad I’ve had four years on the Council to be prepared to take the next step.’ Kristen Lewis: ‘Maintain the heritage and integrity of Cave Creek.’ Ron Sova: Meet with Town employees and review the Town’s infrastructure.’ Susan Clancy: ‘The current Council has put it all on track.’ Tom Augherton: ‘Establish relationship with other Council members and Town staff. Triage what needs to be done.’ Paul Diefenderfer: ‘Work with everyone so we all play well together.’ David Smith: ‘Talk to staff, learn their priorities, and learn Town laws and ordinances.’ Bob Morris: ‘Get an emergency plan and drought plan in place for the water system.’ Reg Monachino: ‘Make a resolution to find someone to buy the water utilities.’

At the end of the program, prepared statements from the candidates that were unable to attend were read to those in attendance. The next voter event is a ‘Meet & Greet’ at Cactus Shadows High School on Wednesday evening, June 20. There will be additional forums and debates in July and August. Details on those events will be in the July 4 edition of Sonoran News. Also in that issue will be responses to a questionnaire sent to all Cave Creek and Carefree candidates by Sonoran News.