Ready, set, go – election season is here for Cave Creek

Important town choices – Dig deep before August 4

This week is noted in history with the tragic Ocotillo Fire last weekend and the approach of local elections, along with the COVID-19 Shutdown….
Now, 40 cities are under mass demonstrations, the White House being assaulted and the U.S. Attorney General designating Antifa and other far left organizations as terrorist organizations under Federal Statutes.
These are very serious times, which makes it much more important to be involved in the Town Community Process, and know the voting records of each candidate. As former Speaker Tip O’Neill aptly stated, “All Politics is local.”
So, focusing in on local issues, what kind of front is being put up by Town Hall and the swoon of candidates running for another set of chances to vote again for every Spending measure they or the town staff puts in front of them. I will review each candidate’s key votes as we move forward.
You see, in the mind of a free spender-council person, it is so easy to vote ‘yes’ when it is not their money. As British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher famously stated, “Socialism is great until you run out of everyone else’s money.”

A couple of short examples right now:

  1. Only Bob Morris voted “no” 1 year ago on an outrageous $30M dollar budget.
  2. The council just approved a salary increase to $220K for the Town Manager. This is for the Leader of the Town Staff which only work 4 days a week.
  3. Council also approved monies for the Appraisal for Harmony Hollow and others totaling 94 acres. That’s crazy, we already have 8,000 acres of Preserved Land in and around Cave Creek, which includes 2,200 in the Spur Cross Recreation Conservation Area. Why would we spend many millions more in the midst of the largest economic collapse in Cave Creek history? Timing is everything. In context, in 2016, the Cave Creek budget was $16M. Last year they raised it to $30M. Now, they are proposing $35M for fiscal 20/21, an increase of 120% in 4 years.
    Plus, town revenues were down almost 90 percent in April and May due to COVID-19 closures. This is a huge hit to the town’s incoming revenue stream.

Election Overview:

So, this election has seven people running for six council seats and Ernie is being challenged for the mayor’s seat by former Councilwoman Eileen Wright. Ernie has served 16 years on Council. Eileen Wright served one term on council two years ago and also served as a Planning and Zoning Commissioner. She ran last time and lost by only 80 votes. (Where was the voting box for two days)? Ron Sova is also re-running for council.
So it will be great if Cave Creek voters would jump in and see who has done a good job so far this term, how they have voted on key issues would be a good start.
Since the last election we’ve seen votes on the Sandwich Sign Ordinance which was quite a tempestuous issue. Importantly, the council voted for a Sandwich Sign Ordinance in which the existing enforcement provision was removed, so now it’s a worthless law. So, why would a council person vote for it if there is no enforcement of it in any way? Lip service?
Also, I think it was significant that the Management of Spur Cross Ranch, the County Park Manager, announced at Cave Creek Council on May 20, 2019 that the county wants to drill a well and run electricity all the way out to the ranger’s station, all to modernize the bathroom with lights for a conservancy which closes at dark. What sense does that make? What is the council’s position on this?
Councilman Tom McGuire applauded the modern bathrooms on an 800-year-old Hohokam settlement. Instead of running electricity all the way out there, what’s wrong with a couple of solar panels and batteries – can you think GREEN? That assumes the fact it even needs modernizing in the first place, which it doesn’t. What is wrong with hikers that come up seeking a rugged Sonoran Desert experience only to find Cave Creek put in Four Seasons caliber restrooms? What’s next? It’s an ancient cemetery for goodness sake.

Bike Week now in October

Bike week has been rescheduled for October. How did each council member vote for permits last time or make changes to help resolve noise issues and hugely congested traffic? If all we see is inaction, will we have the same Wild West Bike Show as the last few years brought for 10 days. It’s really a big issue in town and should be. Cave Creek can do a better job of injecting themselves into the event, at least enough to prevent chaos. Bike Week is a big deal for a town whose middle name should be “Quiet.” That’s why people came to a little town with just over 5K people. So, how did the council deal with these issues? Was there any leadership from the mayor? Did the mayor and council seek a summit with the bar owners to work out a compromise? Make your list of issues, ask the candidates how they voted or visit the town website ( and find out.

Ask candidates before
August 4

How are council members going to be key in improving water quality? The town has still not shared the latest water test results with its own water advisory committee. What’s up with that? Safe water is a super serious issue for all communities, especially in Cave Creek since test results from the State of Arizona for Cave Creek show the presence of carcinogens. A Big damn deal!! Demand truth not platitudes.
Now, if the town so far lost roughly 1/6 of is annual sales tax revenue, where do council members say the shortfall is going to come from? And to correct a common misconception that Sprouts Farmers Market brought huge new sales tax revenue to Cave Creek, not true. Food items are not subject to sales tax. Food is the bulk of the daily sales at Sprouts.
The COVID-19 shutdown hugely impacted the restaurants and businesses in the prime of the annual snowbird season and no one is talking about the huge impact on the Cave Creek Business Community. Even today the Governor restricts restaurants to 50% capacity.
So, again, as the Cave Creek election swings into action, we don’t know quite yet if public forums will be permitted or if candidates will have to use other, less personal means of campaigning. ‘Virtual’ is not nearly as good as looking a candidate in the eye. It is the window to the heart.
Keep your eyes wide open this Election on August 4, just two months away. Ask tons of questions about big issues in Cave Creek, spending, Bike Week, and especially safe drinking water!
When I founded and led the huge task of preserving Spur Cross, resident participation was absolutely pivotal to the successful community effort. Hundreds of people volunteered to Preserve Spur Cross Ranch, in the trenches, week by week, by week.
You have to be engaged. You can’t just meander though a busy life and not be involved in the town in which you chose to live your life! You have to protect and be watchful of the freedoms you have and who you vote for. Who will continue to perpetuate and make solid steps to return Cave Creek government to open and transparent? The volunteers were involved because they were all about Cave Creek Community. Why not take a little time and effort to stay involved to make sure it stays open and democratic, honest and accountable.
If I may suggest, although it doesn’t sound exciting, the town’s website has all previous council meetings on video and meeting minutes are posted, so go on and delve in. See comments from Cave Creek Town Council and how each voted for important issues that may concern you and your community.
In closing, in the wake of the huge destruction, 8 homes and 12 other structures, from the Ocotillo Fire, obviously made worse from the noxious globe chamomile, where in the world is the leadership of the town on dealing with the globe chamomile issue? Though I hate to say it, Cave Creek needs an ordinance recording globe chamomile as a noxious weed; property owners could be fined if globe chamomile is not eradicated each spring. The State of Colorado does this with Russian Thistle.
Further, there was virtually no communication from the mayor or town manager about evacuations, or permission to return home or anything. From what we’ve learned the town was more or less silent. That’s hugely irresponsible during a fire that burned nearly 1,000 acres.

We need some REAL Leadership!

Gary Schmitt
Founder, President
Friends of Spur Cross Coalition