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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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1/24/2013 2:19:00 PM
City Council Q&A Pt. 3

What is your top priority as a new or returning City Council member?

Darold Smith (challenger): My top priority would be to stop the rubber-stamp approval of any requests for money projects and programs brought to the Council.  The Council has repeatedly refused to seriously explore the implications and alternatives to spending money. It is spending money thoughtlessly and without serious discussion or debate.  For example, it raised the business tax on business people by as much as 150 percent without giving them proper notice by snail or email. Thus, many did not know about or have a chance to provide input on the affect the increase would have on them. I believe there was not sufficient justification given to the Council for such a huge increase on our businesses who by any measure continue to struggle.

The Council has rubber stamped the spending of $8 million or more on an additional waste water plant without seriously exploring alternatives that would save millions.  It has refused to obtain independent outside expert advice on whether such a huge expenditure is necessary when the current plant is operating at less than two-thirds capacity-it relies on essentially the views of a single member of the staff when making this decision. I would demand much more reliable information before raising water rates, explanations of tax rates approved by two of the current Council, block any additional tax on citizens without a vote of the citizens. I believe the Council has failed to protect the middle class tax payers of the community, many of whom are elderly and on Social Security. I oppose increasing waste water rates on our citizens given the Council's handling of millions of dollars dedicated to and specifically set up for the 5,000 waste water folks. The Council has taken that money, raised for waste water folks, put it into what I call a capitol slush fund.  It is using the money, apparently, for whatever capital projects that meet its fancy. 

Karen Pfeifer (incumbent): The economy. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

I want to see the success that Old Town Cottonwood has experienced expanded to other areas of Cottonwood. We need to work on the expansion and retention of our current business community throughout the city. We have empty buildings and office space that need to be filled with thriving businesses and services. Shopping locally is wonderful and we need to encourage that experience and get to know our local merchants. Let them know what is needed locally so people don't have to leave the valley to shop.

Bringing in new businesses that compliment and enhance our current merchants and employ our labor force with well paying jobs/careers. We have highly skilled people here and they need employment that will allow them to support their families and also enjoy our community and all it has to offer.

We have seen a slow economy and hard times in the past and this community has always pulled together and worked through it and we will do it again, but it will take the community pulling together to accomplish this.

Randall Garrison (challenger): My top priority as a new council member would be to work towards creating a better relationship with our community members. There seems to be a perception that the city administrators and council do not listen to the voice of the public, and I think that there is always room for improvement when it comes to communicating with those you serve. Another concern I have is one that seems to be quietly working its way into several conversations, and one that has become much more important to me after attending a recent City of Cottonwood Council retreat, which is the amount of money the city is projecting to spend on capital projects and its ability to pay for them. More than once, the subject of bonding, raising water and sewer rates, and implementing a property tax was mentioned. While I understand the need to move forward with public projects, as well as pay for those already serving the community, it seems we may be over extending ourselves financially and there seems to be no real discussion on how to satisfy those expenses without adding additional burdens on our residents.

Linda Norman (incumbent): I am very interested in the future growth of our CAT/Lynx system, and hope to be able to continue being involved in seeing that all of our citizens receive the service they need.

Tim Elinski (incumbent): My top priority as a returning council member would be to promote, preserve and protect Cottonwood's natural amenities, most importantly the Verde River.  The Verde is the reason Cottonwood exists, and many residents and visitors never take advantage of its location right through the center of our town.  I would like to continue pushing for access points and parks to encourage people to visit and enjoy this amenity, thereby promoting awareness and conservation. Additionally, Cottonwood has many existing and potential trail networks which I would like to see improved and developed for our community's use, ensuring their future within our city.    

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: its easy to throw stones... .

from outside glass houses... check the facts... check the votes... its easy to talk the talk on taxes and or water/sewer rates... but walking the walk is a bit different once you have to strap on the lead shoes of bureaucracy. the devil is in the details and candidates tend to use broad brushes.

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: smith is far from 'new blood' .

he was on the council when it made many of the decisions he is now claiming to be against and that he voted for. review the votes folks... don't rely on comments in the paper to make your choices.

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Citizens View

Here is my take so far.

Looks like for sure Darold Smith and maybe Randy Garrison will at least have the huevos to challenge staff and some of the rubber stamping thats going on. This bodes well for taxpayers.

Randy Garrison is a question. He did not exactly prove to be an independent thinker while on the COCSD school board. We did not see him challenge some of the superintendent's bad ideas that were implemented while he was on that board.

But its hard to overlook Garrison's distinguished pedigree. I believe he is a direct descendent of Charles Willard, the so-called Father of Cottonwood. There are very few people with deeper roots in this community than his.

At the very least, with Smith we can expect some challenge to the status quo that we are not getting now. And that hopefully will lead to greater transparency, especially with the budget and finances and all these secretive bank accounts Cottonwood holds.

Lets let Smith stir things up a bit. Lets get the finances up on the table for all to see. That will be a good thing.

The city of Cottonwood sits on way too much of its citizens money for my comfort. This money belongs to we the people, rather than in the city\\\'s bank accounts. I say let us choose how to spend our own money rather than have the city choose how to spend it for us.

As for Linda Norman, her responses suggest she does not have a very deep understanding of the issues, nor much of a vision for leadership.

Same for Karen Pfeifer. She has not exactly distinguished herself over the years with much independent thought. She has been there so long but what has she done really, other than to rubber stamp and give lip service to really generic ideas like jobs and economic development. What has she personally accomplished in all this time?

Time for some new blood. Time for some new thinking on this council. The city will benefit and so will its citizens.

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Elaine Farr

It is refreshing to read about two men that are concerned about our taxes! Specifically, that Darold Smith and Randall Garrison are concerned about the amount of money and new projects the current Council is committing us to. That same Council is all the while ignoring what a large percentage of their constituents have to say. Let's all pay close attention to the candidates, and their willingness to be more careful with OUR money. I don't want my taxes, water rates or anything else raised yet again to fund extravagant projects in this challenging economy. Seeing several old and successful businesses closing recently should give us all pause. What can we really afford before more businesses fall due to unfair burdens from the Council?

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