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MARCH 20, 2013

Runoff Election

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Don SorchychThe election of Obama was a stunning shock and so was the Cave Creek election. Although a runoff looms, there is still a significant chance the town can recover its senses and keep the excellent council that has served the town with honor, honesty and distinction.

It is sad to see Steve LaMar lose his seat on the council. LaMar has served the town brilliantly since incorporation and the town deserved his continued service more than he needed to spend his time in council duties.

Vincent Francia won his eighth term, with no opposition, and 86.47 percent of the vote.

Second vote getter behind Francia, Adam Trenk got 911 votes, 27 votes more than was needed to win. Once again, like his earlier election, he garnered mostly out-of-state money of about $20,000. So he paid over $740 for each vote over the amount needed to win. This in spite of an admitted hiatus of a year in Scottsdale and less than the requisite one year as a Cave Creek citizen immediately prior to the election.

canfield cartoon
Ernie Bunch was third and received 909 votes, only two votes less than Trenk, while spending less than $500.

All the other candidates were thrown into the runoff.

Is this voting population, who voted two to one to save Spur Cross Ranch, voted two to one in favor of Walmart, voted against a previous referendum authored by Grace Meeth and Jim Peirce and voted down an attempt to have a property tax for fire protection, the same voting population that nearly voted in mostly inexperienced, angry people with an agenda to take over the town?

The difference here is vast sums of money and mythical complaints about a sterling mayor, council, town manager and town staff.

This column warned that the fund raising and opposition to Enchanted Canyon was a warm up to try to take over the town. Mike Chutz, here less than a two years and not a voting citizen, is the director of the pawns running against council. He raised $40,000 presumably to defeat Enchanted Canyon, but his real objectives were transparent. He is a louder voice than any who are running as a slate and he is directing their activities.

Why? I will rerun my answer (published earlier) as an additional editorial.

When one looks at the last several years much has been accomplished. On Monday the council announced they were paying off early one WIFA loan of nearly $800,000. Their surplus is now $4.2 million. The slate is moaning about the town debt, which is a non issue.

This council did a magnificent job of managing an increasing sales tax, led by their positive efforts to land Walmart. The future is bright, thanks to the success of town businesses.

A clear objective of the slate is to eliminate Usama Abujbarah as town manager. In some cases, racist tactics are used but even conservative voters like myself will tell you he is head and shoulders above previous town managers and I have been here since 1990. The slate wants to replace him with Terry Zerkle, a cast off from Tempe. He has been a chronic zealot to complain about town decisions and activity and he has always been wrong.

We are fortunate to have an experienced and competent staff who are here because of Abujbarah’s management skills and his fair dealing with employees. If Abujbarah is lost the town staff will have no trouble in finding employment elsewhere and they will bail out. Trust me on that.

Cave Creek has never faced a problem like this where a slate wants to take over town affairs, while lacking experience to be effective. These people are dangerous to the future of the town.
The current council has never faced a situation where they have had to spend huge sums to compete. You have been lied to by the slate of challengers in every branch of communications known. Mailers, signs, robo calls, home visits and forums.

Our forum, had you been there, would have shown you these people are angry, nasty and uninformed. Eileen Wright accused the town of all sorts of nefarious and illegal activity, which led Mayor Vincent Francia to respond angrily, most unusual for him.

The town is audited seven ways from Sunday and any inference they are doing anything illegal is libelous, wrong and defamatory.

That background tells you why the council members, other than Bunch, stayed away from their “forums.” They had enough at our forum to last a lifetime.

If the runoff is won by the slate, it will forever change the town, whereas every candidate will have to have a huge pile of money to overcome their eastern city approach to elections. Our council was free, and large amounts of time were spent without any requirement for excessive fundraising.

Mike Chutz changed all of that and he will doubtless be the unvoted, non-voting part-time citizen. Right now the slate candidates are taking their instructions and funds from a guy who has motives that are buried. I have said the town is a valuable enterprise and who could stop a majority of them from pillaging the town of hard won assets?

Chutz bought a full page advertisement in the Scottsdale Republic demeaning me and the town. He asked questions that anyone who goes to meetings or reads Linda Bentley’s informative articles of every council meeting would know the answers to. His questions are the same ones the slate uses.

1) Why is the town in debt?
The debt is there to finance necessary infrastructure.
2) Why are fees high?
Impact fees were originally high to slow growth, which was out of control. Water rates and sales rates are high to counter recessionary issues. There are plans to reduce them. Low density makes it more costly to deliver services.
3) Why no written long range plan? There is. It was written by a consultant, later updated and the town adopted the plan.
4) Strong CFO?
According to the town code, the town manager is the CFO.
5) Questioning the Desert Hills water company.
Already mentioned, that investment will pay off many times over.
6) Cost of water deficit?

There is none. The town has 2,606 acre feet of CAP water rights, which is more than needed for build out.

So like his friend Zerkle, he is wrong and had he been here and attended council meetings or read Sonoran News he would know.

Vote for Shelley Anderson, James Bruce, Dick Esser and Thomas McGuire.