BY JOHN HOEPPNER | FEBRUARY 5, 2014
Cave Creek is no Quartzsite
The Arizona Republic’s Editorial Board in their “Don’t Turn Into a Quartzsite” (Jan. 18, 2014) opinion is misguided in their view of Cave Creek as a town and the local government. The attempt to draw parallels between Cave Creek and Quartzsite is an application of the elasticity of editorial imagination.
Cave Creek is the jewel of Maricopa County. Since the Town’s founding in 1986, residents have fought for and succeed in creating vast open spaces, large parcel zoning and a unique commercial area incorporating western themed businesses, top-notch restaurants and art galleries interspersed with special events. Cave Creek is a great place to live and fun place to visit.
The voters of Cave Creek are known for vigorous, yet respectful debate on issues that impact the quality of life and the welfare of the town government. The four newly elected council members, referred to locally as the “slate”, were elected to office based on what is now known by many to be false claims.
• The “slate” claimed the town manager was both incompetent and dishonest. They claimed an independent audit would provide the evidence. Five months later after completing the aforementioned audit, there was zero evidence to support their dishonesty claims. The net result is that the town is now facing a $3-million lawsuit filed by the previous town manager.
• Quickly after taking office and without debate, the long-term town manager was terminated and the slate hired an interim town manager (a personal friend of the newly elected vice mayor). Curiously, the new town manager had no relevant experience, yet was paid the same salary as the experienced town manager.
• The “slate” campaigned on the theme that the town’s budget was too big and was too far in debt. Shortly after taking office the newly elected council passed the same $17-million budget, proposed by the previous council, without a making a single change.
• Next “slate” went a spending and public relations spree. They paid $80,000 for a software program to tell the road crew when the roads needed to be maintained, $20,000 for stainless steel horse signs. Thousands were spent to promote Cave Creek as “The West’s most Western Town” violating Scottsdale’s federally registered trademark and alienating Scottsdale’s mayor and council. Residents are being harassed with a barrage of expensive mailings promoting the non-existent accomplishments of the newly elected council members.
On reflection, the amount of money spent on campaigning by the “slate” should have made voters apprehensive. Most candidates for local office spend less than $500 in an election cycle. One slate candidate, who many are not even sure lives in Cave Creek, spent $25,000 to win a seat on the council. This slate member may find being elected in Cave Creek may be either be a stepping stone or stumbling block for a more prestigious elected office in the future.
Those of us who voted for some or all of the “slate” members feel that we were hoodwinked and believe they should face the voters again in a recall election. This time running on their record and telling the truth.
In the final analysis, Cave Creek voters are not out for revenge, just a reckoning.
John Hoeppner served on the 1986 Cave Creek Incorporating Committee.