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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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2/21/2013 2:33:00 PM
League forum gives public close-up look at Cottonwood candidates
Candidates (from left) Randy Garrison, Karen Pfeifer and Darold Smith answer questions during Wednesday’s League of Women Voters forum at the Cottonwood Recreation Center. VVN/Jon Pelletier
Candidates (from left) Randy Garrison, Karen Pfeifer and Darold Smith answer questions during Wednesday’s League of Women Voters forum at the Cottonwood Recreation Center. VVN/Jon Pelletier

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- Three of the five candidates for the available Cottonwood City Council seats were on hand for a League of Women Voters candidate's forum Wednesday night at the Cottonwood Recreation Center.

Candidates Tim Elinski and Linda Norman were not present though they sent campaign statements.

The candidates presented opening and closing statements and then answered questions.

"Cottonwood is on the verge of a Christian revival. Would you be willing to work with religious leaders?" one question asked.

Both Karen Pfeifer and Darold Smith said they both would be willing to work with leaders of religious organizations but Smith said he didn't think candidates should be questioned about their religious beliefs.

Randy Garrison differed, saying, "I don't like the idea of government being involved with religion. It is more like a 'community unto itself.' I believe that churches should do their own thing," and "the city keep hands off."

One citizen asked if Cottonwood should woo Remington Arms, now that New York State wants to tighten its gun laws. Five states, including Arizona, are among those interested.

All three candidates did not like the idea.

"I don't know if I would care to have them here," said Darold Smith.

Randy Garrison agreed, "I don't know if it would be a good fit. It is a hardcore industry that needs a foundry. Ruger could not make it in Prescott and moved. I would rather pursue medical industry-related business."

"I would prefer a Mold in Graphics style industry," Karen Pfeifer commented.

Candidates were asked if the city had made mistakes.

"The sewer plant at Riverfront Park is perhaps not the best location, but I agree in principle with the concept" (of reclaiming effluent water for irrigation) said Garrison. "I am worried about the capital plan and how it will be paid for."

Responding to the reference of the Riverfront reclamation plant, Karen Pfeifer cited proposals by Natural Resources Director Tom Whitmer, that "Reclaimed water injection wells would give the city bargaining power with SRP. Pfeifer went on that, "If we were not involved in 'future-thinking' we would not be sitting here tonight." She point to the Cottonwood Recreation Center where the forum was held.

Darold Smith countered, "It's not that mistakes were made, but there was not enough study." We were told that building a new reclamation plant would eliminate the $3 million cost to replace piping to the treatment plant, but plans still call for $3million in new piping."

Smith also challenged that "we keep going with the same engineer."

The three were asked what would be a candidate's first priority if elected to the council.

Karen Pfeifer said her priorty would be to continue working with Old Town and other Cottonwood businesses to move the city forward.

Randy Garrison said his priority would be "To get my hands around the budget." He said, "The list of needs is greater than what I thought" and "talk of bonds and raising rates is not prudent without impacting residents even further."

Darold Smith also talked about the city budget and the need to get a better lease agreement for airport land.

One question suggested that Old Town growth has been good, but what about other commercial areas.

Smith expanded on the airport comments. He said the airport has been ignored and the pilots are unhappy. He suggested again that Cottonwood should try to attract a Costco to the Verde Valley.

Randy Garrison worried that the area had a lack of responsibility to grow good-paying jobs. We have gone "from a job producer to a service provider. We need jobs that pay good wages, industrial growth, not just more restaurants and bars."

Voters must cast their mail-only ballots before March 12.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: That's a good question, Mr. Grammarian.

I'd like to know where the candidates stand on public-private partnerships, on investment in new municipal buildings, on public grant issues and the outside regulations that go with them, on State vs local control in general, on the federal insurance bailout and how it might affect Cottonwood's health care industry, and community safety/law & order issues--such as their views on the Cottonwood Police's handling of the recent shooting, gang mitigation and drug enforcement, what the city should be doing (if anything) to ensure school safety, the Ivo Buddeke dust up over in Rimrock relative to whether Cottonwood can protect its citizens from over-zealous prosecutors. Just to know--if a difference arose between city administration and the Chief of Police, or County, State, or Federal authorities--which way they would lean on matters put to the Council.

The League of Women's Voters tried to open the way toward a better understanding of their basic governmental beliefs, but they weren't willing to expand specifics into general principles. However, thanks to Lee Cali's letters, I guess we know where Mr. Garrison and Mr. Smith stand on all the above.


Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Gray Grammarian

Are waste water, taxes, commercial development, and big box stores the only issues that concern most Cottonwood citizens?

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Fact Check

mr. smith you seem to be a self procalimed expert regarding wastewater so can you share with us what type of pipe never has to be replaced. maybe if your chosen contractor, perc water, was selected to construct this project you would still be in favor of the riverfront wrf as you were when you lobbied the city to direct select them to construct the facility. check the city council minutes if you want to know the real mr. smith.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Darold Smith

Thank you for continuing this debate about the River front Park Treatment Plant.
What you are saying to me is I left out the word “delayed” correct?
So what you really wish to do is spend 8-10 million dollars to delay spending 3 million dollars right now to fix the piping but do it after the treatment plant is built then spend the additional 3 million which of course means the city will be spending roughly 13 million dollars to fix a 3 million dollar problem.
I also realize that this makes sense to somebody already on the city council.
Now you know why I wish to be elected to put a halt to the nonsensical spending that is going on with present council.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: KATE WEBSTER

Karen Pfeifer=LONG time resident who has seen the continual growth of Cottonwood-Experience and proven track record-Love of the community and dedicated to work with local businesses. Not just gouge for more taxes or risk the loss of the "small town" feeling by dragging in big business.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: seems mr. smith just left out the word 'delayed'? .

as quoted in the paper. so to be clear it will need the new piping some day... but the new facility will delay that cost for some time. the addition of that info is enough to make a reader ecstatic!

as far as costco's and trader joe's... the irony of folks retiring to cottonwood for its small town charm.. then courting/inviting the subject stores... is not lost on many life long residents.

best of luck to all in this game they call politics.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: two cents

@ which candidate will take on excessive taxation?

The answer is, at least one. There is always a 'token' representative for the people. It won't change anything, taxes are free money for the politicians to play with as they wish, and their biggest headache is to figure out how to keep the public from knowing what is really going on.

Cottonwood already has one of the highest sales tax in the state, and this states sales tax is the 3rd highest in the country.

Has anyone ever seen taxes go down?

Why do you think any of these people want the headache of being in public office?

It isn't because they have"our" best interests in mind. Their interests are all about the money and controlling where it goes and how to get more money for their own financial security.

Their own personal interests and financial security come first. It happens all over the world. In this country, from small town government, all the way to Washington D.C., whenever money is involved, integrity and campaign promises take a backseat, and greed takes over.
and that is more than two cents worth of truth

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: half of the ladies... Cottonwood were astatic?

a• stat• ic (adj.)
Unsteady; unstable.

Uh oh. Is that related to their hysteria?

I hope those ladies aren't reading this, though it probably wouldn't affect their vote. Trader Joe's provides items you can't get at Costco/Walmart, at a good price and in a more pleasant environment.

About those local wines...

Some are excellent, but even at Costco I doubt you can get a good one for less than $20/bottle w/tax. I'll bet many non-astatic ladies would be more pleased with an opportunity to buy a decent vino for less than 4 bucks from TJs. A few might even be ecstatic.

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: So That

where they stand with Remington. Me I'd be glad if they where in Cottonwood. It would give at least some of the youth a chance to get a decent paying job. Guess they would rather the ones getting out of HS only get a job selling tee shirts in Sedona then have a company that has been around well over a 100 years give them a chance to make a decent living

Oh wait sniff sniff do I smell three anti gun people wanting to be elected? Me thinks so That blew any chance of me voting for any of the three. If you support the 2nd amendment I'd advise you to think twice to before voting for any of them

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

Drained of good ideas, culturally bereft and looking for a sugar daddy. Welcome to Cottonwood, Arizona.

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: doug barney

Slater Slater
It appears that you really do not care or are interested in your community are you.
your-inane comments suggest that your apparent IQ is not very high so you get what deserve.

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013
Article comment by: slater slater

Told ya so.The beauty is, I don't know any of them.Seen one ya seen them all.

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013
Article comment by: Darold Smith

Just for your information COSTCO already sells our local wine in their stores, so apparently you do not like a bigger market for the wine Industry is that correct?
By the way when it was mentioned that Trader Joes might establish a store in Cottonwood, it was my understanding that half of the ladies in Cottonwood were astatic.

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013
Article comment by: Darold Smith

To fact check (check the facts) I am really glad you asked this question here is the answer.
On February the 8th of this month Randall Garrison, myself, City Manager Doug Bartosh, the Engineer from Woods Patel Mr. Knickerbocker, City Staff Roger Biggs, and Morgan Scott had a presentation of the Reclamation Plant at River front Park. I specifically asked Mr. Knickerbocker if the piping from River Front Park to the Sewer plant at Mingus would still have to be replaced at an approximately cost of $3,000,000? His answer was YES! But it would be delayed.
So (check the facts) I suggest you Check with any of the above named people and see what there answer is.

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013
Article comment by: Which candidate will take on excessive taxation?

Cottonwoods combined sales tax of over 10% is one of the highest in Arizona.

Because of this revenue largesse, the city hoards over $35 million of its citizens money, an amount over two times greater than its average annual $16 million budget.

Over 200% in reserves is far more than they need. Most Arizona cities and towns have only keep a 10-50% cash reserve.

Consequently, Cottonwood police can afford to dress up in paramilitary gear and ride around in expensive humvees. At taxpayer expense.

The mayor drives around in a city car, at taxpayer expense.

The city can splurge on an extravagant and unnecessary $12 million sewer plant, in a floodplain no less.

Meanwhile, the people of Cottonwood are poor - below average socioeconomic status - compared to the rest of the state.

So now that tax revenue has recovered, which candidate will truly stand up for the people and reduce the sales tax rate back to where it was in 2008?

Which candidate only will rubber stamp whatever staff says, which is to continue to grow bigger and more city government than we need?

Which candidate wants to put the money hoarded by the city back in the pockets of its citizens, where it belongs?

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