BY LINDA BENTLEY | APRIL 24, 2013
Battle for the final four
Never in the history of Cave Creek elections …
CAVE CREEK – Never in the history of Cave Creek elections has there been so much money spent, myths told and fear mongering at foot than to defeat a single candidate in the quest for the remaining four seats on council.
Not only are candidates spending record amounts to get elected to an unpaid council position, but two new political action committees (PAC), chaired by Grace Meeth, who was voted off council, and Bob Moore, who was removed from the planning commission, have cropped up to join Sewickley, Penn. resident Mike Chutz’s PAC to help elect his slate of four candidates.
Three members of the slate of candidates are guaranteed a seat on council, while the fourth seat will be a fight over incumbent Councilmember Thomas McGuire’s seat.
And while Eileen Wright’s campaign signs show a silhouette of a woman on a horse, her neighbors claim she is downright anti-equestrian and say she has blocked off a road previously used by horseback riders in the community because she doesn’t want horses on her property.
Her latest campaign mailer talks about how she’ll “get control of town finances.”
However, even after amending her post-primary campaign finance report, she still shows on Schedule B “Contributions from Political Committees” that she received $4,432.76 as a contribution to her committee from her own committee.
And now, instead of showing $700 received from Mike Chutz, which was $250 over the legal limit, it reflects a contribution of only $250.
So the woman who claims she will be able to “get control of town finances,” was unable to fill out a simple campaign finance report to properly reflect contributions from four individual donors or explain where the $4,432.76 donation to her PAC is actually from.
Then there’s Mike Durkin who also has trouble following campaign finance laws and used his personal candidate PAC to campaign for the entire slate of candidates.
His campaign finance report also claims he had a $2,000 surplus from a previous campaign or at the time he filed his statement of organization for a new committee, which, if it were the case, should not have exceeded $500.
In tracing back, Durkin never had a previous campaign and there are no reports filed showing where the $2,000 came from.
To advertise for any candidates other than himself, Durkin was required to form a separate PAC so people would know whose money is received and spent toward each campaign.
Durkin complains in his latest mailer, “It is unfortunate that the local tabloid chooses to focus on falsehoods and mud-slinging instead of real issues. Little reported about me has been accurate and most is patently false.”
Durkin doesn’t contest anything specific; he just makes a blanket allegation.
The slate of candidates initially went on a rampage about the town’s debt for the water utility and wastewater treatment plant.
As Sonoran News explained in the April 17 edition: “Election focus is much ado about debt,” the water utility’s debt service, operations and maintenance is completely funded by water revenues.
The article also provided a little history about the town’s acquisition of the water company and the reason for building a new wastewater treatment plant.
This slate of candidates did not attend those meetings to protest the town’s actions.
And, as previously stated, citizens voted almost 2-1 to acquire the water company.
While sales tax goes toward funding municipal operations and various debt services, the town learned several years ago that without the development fees it was used to receiving during boom construction times, even if every inch of commercial space available in the town core were in use, the revenue it produced would not be enough to fund town services with even a bare-bones staff.
So, as some of the slate of candidates have voiced their opposition to the rezoning of four acres on Carefree Highway to the immediate west of CVS, and for which Carefree resident Jim Peirce has filed a referendum that is appearing on the ballot as Proposition 459, without additional tax revenue that the proposed project by Park West Partners will generate, there would be little hope of reducing water and sales tax rates.
A yes vote on Proposition 459 will affirm council’s decision to rezone the four acres. A no vote will result in the land remaining zoned Desert Rural residential (DR-89).
Although the slate of candidates has made numerous and unfounded accusations about the current council, they have yet to propose a single solution or alternative to actions the current council has taken.
Durkin claims parts of the town are “underserved,” and says a “more engaged and responsive council is key to correcting this imbalance.”
He goes on to say “an engaged and responsive council will stimulate an engaged and active citizenry.”
As Carole Perry, who endorsed the incumbent members of council running for reelection in the primary, pointed out during a recent council meeting, citizens like herself were not attending council meetings, not because they’re disinterested in town affairs but because they were in the capable hands of a council and staff she trusted.
Ballots for the May 21 election should reach mailboxes by the end of the week.