Jerome council hopefuls answer questions

Four candidates seek two open council seats

Tom Pitts, president of the Jerome Chamber of Commerce opened the Candidate Forum Wednesday night at Spook Hall. The chamber and The League of Women Voters Sedona-Verde Valley sponsored the candidate night. Shown behind Pitts are, right to left, Lisa Rappaport, Thomas Bauers, Anne Bassett and Ron Richie.
VVN/Philip Wright

Tom Pitts, president of the Jerome Chamber of Commerce opened the Candidate Forum Wednesday night at Spook Hall. The chamber and The League of Women Voters Sedona-Verde Valley sponsored the candidate night. Shown behind Pitts are, right to left, Lisa Rappaport, Thomas Bauers, Anne Bassett and Ron Richie. VVN/Philip Wright

Four candidates for the remaining two open seats on the Jerome Town Council faced the public Wednesday night during a Candidate's Night sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Jerome Chamber of Commerce.

Anne Bassett is the only candidate of the four who will be on the ballot for the May 20 general election. Three candidates, Ron Richie, Thomas Bauers and Lisa Rappaport, are all write-in candidates.

The candidates made brief opening statements before being asked a single question by the League. The forum was then opened to questions from the audience.

Ron Richie is a general contractor who has lived in Jerome for four years. He is a member of the Jerome Volunteer Fire Department and the Chamber of Commerce. "I'm new to politics," he said.

Lisa Rappaport is a former councilwoman, vice mayor and member of the town's Planning & Zoning Commission. She is owner of the Twin Star general store.

Thomas Bauers is a former councilman and built his home in Jerome 11 years ago. He works in Cottonwood in the medical field.

Anne Bassett has served on the town council three times, and she has lived in Jerome since 1980.

The prepared question for the candidates was what they consider the three most important issues facing the Jerome Town Council.

Richie said the No. 1 issue is money. "The budget is the most pressing issue," he said. The town does not have the same tax base that other towns and cities have.

His second choice was tourism. "Promoting tourism is one of the things we need to look at," Richie said.

Water and infrastructure were among Richie's top three issues.

Bassett said financing infrastructure repair is one of the top issues. "We need a spectrum of solutions," she said. That includes the money to maintain and repair the town's infrastructure.

Recycling was another of Bassett's top issues. She said the town could figure a way to make money by recycling instead of paying to have recycled materials removed. "Recycling is win-win," she said.

Bassett said cultural tourism brings the most lucrative visitors to town and, consequently, she considers historical preservation and the arts as being among her top priorities.

Bauers said the town's flow-chart and new manager-council form of government are a top issue. "Who does the Chief of Police answer to?" he asked. He asked how long a town manager must be in the position before the chief will be comfortable working for the manager instead of the council.

Annexation was another of Bauer's top priorities. "I was for it, then against it," he said. He was frustrated because the information available to voters during the recent primary was not good and reliable, making it difficult for residents to understand exactly what they were voting for.

Revenue was Bauers' third choice as a top issue to be dealt with. He asked how the town could raise revenue. "We need to be creative," he said.

Rappaport said the budget is one of the most important issues facing Jerome because the town has lost the small-town revenue sharing money it has received from the state in recent years.

Infrastructure was her second choice. She said that water and sewer lines might become so damaged over time that it will be even more costly to repair or replace them than it is now.

Rappaport also said she wants more transparency in government.

Successful candidates who won their council seats outright during the primary election are Al Palmieri, Jay Kinsella and Lew Currier. Basset received too few votes during the primary to win a seat outright, but she was certified as a candidate for the general election.

Annie Olivieri was a write-in candidate during the primary but did not receive enough votes for outright election to a seat. She chose not to run during the general election.

A candidate in a primary election must receive 50 percent of the ballots cast plus one to win a council seat outright.

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