Guest Editorial


Carefree proposition facts and fallacies

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john traynorA good friend and a former 12 year Carefree Councilman, Bob Coady, recently asked me to share my views on Proposition 488 & 489. Before I do, I’d like to say that Bob was the shining example of what elected community service should entail – caring about and listening to people. He never worried about getting his name on a plaque or on a building, he was just a doer and he got things done. Bob knows I’m not the easiest person to get to know, but he knows I’m fair and direct. That’s why he asked me to share my opinion.

I’ve recently heard from someone that “they don’t need to be told how to vote.” Okay, I get it and respect it. Rather than ‘ask’ you to vote against 488 & 489, I’ll simply provide some facts and, as always, you get to make the final decision.

Here are the claims, the facts, and the realities:

#1 – This is the 3rd time a Carefree Mayor and/or the Town Council has attempted to secure 4 year terms.  Each prior time they failed to convince voters.

#2 – Supporters argue that elections every 2 years are costly.  The Proposition for Staggered 4 year terms actually necessitates an election every 2 years, saving nothing.

#3 – Supporters argue that 2 year terms are too short for elected officials to learn the job and then get the job done.  Nonsense.  To date David Schwan has been on the Council 10 years, Glenn Miller 8, Mike Farrar, Melissa Price, and Marty Saltzman 4, John Crane and Les Peterson 2.  Ms. Price and Mr. Peterson were selected to be Vice Mayor in their freshman year on the Council, presumably because of capability.  Mr. Saltzman has a history of being absent. 

#4 – Mayor Schwan argues that “continuity and long range planning” necessitate 4 year staggered terms.  He said 4 year terms “are critical to the long term success of business and municipal government.”  The reality is that during his 10 year political career (6 years as mayor) he has presided over the decline of Carefree’s business community and financial viability.

#5 – Vice-Mayor Peterson argues that replacing the mayor and all council members at the same time “could lead to a chaotic situation.”  In point of fact the first time in Carefree’s history that 3 of the 7 members were replaced in any election was in 2009 when the mayor and two long-term councilmen withdrew from the general election after a dismal showing in the primary.  Rather than face another defeat they simply quit on you. 

#6 – Mr. Peterson further suggests that Carefree lags behind many cities in the state in adopting 4 year terms.  While that may be reasonably accurate it is far from compelling.  Carefree is spending significantly on an image of being different, trying to evolve into an art and cultural destination.  What other motive would Mr. Peterson have to advocate sameness for Carefree?

In his humble opinion, Mayor Schwan says “A four year term for the office of Mayor is Carefree in the best form of government.”  That is a direct quote, from a 6-year mayor who singlehandedly has angered a noteworthy large scale commercial developer along with just about every business owner and commercial property owner in Carefree.  He, along with staff and possibly 2 other council members, reportedly “abused and were rude to ASU leaders during talks to bring programming from the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts to Carefree.”  (Sources: Carefree Public Forum of 10/6 and an article by Sonja Haller, The Republic | 1:53 p.m. MST October 10, 2014)  While most of the nation and surrounding communities in Arizona have been rebounding after the recession, consumers and customers have been avoiding Carefree in increasing numbers during his tenure as mayor, as reflected by business closings, empty storefronts, and declining sales tax revenue.

Why did the town delay mailing the Election Publicity Pamphlet until October 20 when it was due by October 9?  They know the majority of voters in Carefree vote early.  Keeping differing opinions out of your hands favors their cause.  It seems fairly clear that arguments in favor of Propositions 488 and 489 are shallow, frivolous, and blatantly self-serving.   

Thank you for your time.