Jerome voters will have five candidates -- four on the official ballot and one write-in -- to elect three open seats on the town council. Anyone wishing to vote for the write-in candidate, Nancy Stewart, will have to remember to put her name in the appropriate space on the ballot. Her name will not be among those on the printed ballot.
On the printed ballot will be four challengers: Anne Bassett, Louis Galluzzi, Rebekah Kennedy and Gilbert Robinson.
Two of the five council seats have already been decided during the primary election. Mayor Jane Moore and councilman John "Bob" Bouwman each received more than 50 percent of the votes cast during the March primary, thereby qualifying to retain their seats on the council outright. Everyone else has to go through the general election May 16.
Two incumbents, Vice Mayor Lisa Rappaport and councilwoman Jeanie "Jet" Tennant, withdrew their names from the general election after failing to win re-election outright during the primary.
The five candidates participated in Candidates Night April 18, in the Civic Center. Each was given three minutes to make an opening statement.
Bassett, who moved to Jerome in 1980, said she would like to create local industry that is committed to historical preservation. She also said she does not want to allow the commercial element to reduce the town's quality of life.
Galluzzi, a member of Jerome's Planning & Zoning Commission, said he feels people are looking for fresh blood and want an efficient council that can work together. He said he not only wants the voters to put him on the council but wants them to put Kennedy and Robinson on the council with him. He said that since they have no personal agendas the three of them would make an effective council.
Neither Kennedy nor Robinson indicated that they would like Galuzzi on the council with them or that they see themselves as part of any alliance.
Kennedy said she was born and raised in the Verde Valley and is raising her children in Jerome. She said she is interested in the current annexation movement and also water issues. "I do not have an agenda," Kennedy said. She said she is young and inexperienced but willing to learn. "I'm just an average working Joe," she said.
Robinson said that living in Jerome means being part of a group. He currently serves on the Planning & Zoning Commission. A 15-year resident of Jerome, Robinson said the council must preserve the town's historical nature. He favors annexation so that Jerome may have more control over future development. "Development Clarkdale-style is not what we want for Jerome," he said.
Stewart, the write-in candidate, has been in Jerome for 30 years and said she feels very protective of the town. She said she decided to run for the council to give back to Jerome, and she has no personal agenda. She said her personal motto is "If not now, when?"
After their opening statements, the candidates were asked to answer eight questions submitted to them before the forum. None of the candidates answered all eight questions.
Bassett said hiring a town manager would give continuity to each of the town's departments. She said she worries whether Jerome can find someone who will be dedicated for what the town can afford to pay. She said the town must investigate all of the applicants thoroughly.
Galluzzi said the most important issue facing the new council will be unity. He said the council needs to make all factions into one voice.
On the pros and cons of annexation, Kennedy said she realizes the issue has many aspects to consider, but she feels it will allow the town more options in preserving open spaces and give Jerome more control over the land around the town.
Kennedy said the annexation proposal is positive because the town is surrounded by private land and annexation would give Jerome more control over development.
Robinson said one way to make sure that development pays its own way is to have permit fees cover the costs. He said it's a "no brainer" that development must pay its own way. He suggested that utility hookup fees be increased. But Robinson cautioned that the town cannot expect to grow its way out of problems with infrastructure. "It won't carry the town," he said.
Stewart said one way that the town can support existing business owners is through advertising as a community and by sponsoring special events as a community. She said sales taxes should not be raised.
Voters have until April 27 to register to vote. All voting for the Jerome general election will be by mail.