Photo by Bill Helm.
CAMP VERDE – “You had a choice. You chose to come here,” said Rob Witt of the Camp Verde Republicans as the second of two public forums for Camp Verde’s town council candidates began Tuesday.
With five of the eight council candidates in attendance, the meeting was initially to be held at Camp Verde’s Parkside Community Church.
Monday, Witt announced that the meeting was officially being moved to the Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts.
Regardless of its location, about 70 of the community’s citizens took advantage of another opportunity to listen to what the community’s political hopefuls say they will do for their roughly 12,000 constituents.
Transparency and town code were questions asked of mayoral candidates Jackie Baker and Alex Goetting, as well as council candidates Joe Butner, Carol German and Bill LeBeau.
Not present were Mayor Charlie German, council member Robin Whatley and former council member Bruce George, who with his wife Pat were at Lake Powell at their annual volunteer project. Mayor German provided a written introduction that Witt read at the forum.
One town code in particular, the code that mandates its marshal living in zip code 86322, was tackled by the candidates.
To a T – no pun intended – candidates all said that the marshal should be expected to live in the zip code.
“I wholeheartedly support the marshal living in Camp Verde,” said Butner, a retired Yavapai County Superior Court judge. “The marshal should have a vested interest. The more part of the community that they are, the better off we’ll be.”
A former town council member who lost her seat in the 2016 election, Carol German, is related to Charlie German through marriage. Her late-husband was Charlie’s brother. Tuesday, Carol German reminded the attendees that the town code had been amended in 2013 to eliminate a waiver to allow the marshal to live outside zip code 86322.
“The marshal is second in command,” she said. “When the town manager is out of town, the marshal is in effect the town manager.”
For Bill LeBeau, where the marshal cannot live is “the law.”
“If we want to have that discussion again, we can do that,” he said. “But this isn’t the right time as we’re in the middle of a national search for a marshal.”
Jackie Baker joked to the crowd that she’s “technologically challenged.”
“I like calling people, visiting with people,” she said.
As with other municipalities and school boards across the Verde Valley, anyone who wants to speak at a council meeting is asked to fill out a card with their name, contact information, the agenda item they would like to speak about, and their position – either for or against – that item.
Baker said Tuesday that she “has had complaints that citizens have to fill out a card to make a comment” at council meetings.
“People are upset about that,” she said. “That might be something worth looking at.”
For Goetting, he said that he is “one of those people who felt they weren’t listened to by the council.”
That’s why I’m running,” he said. “Some of the issues I’ve had with town council, an honest look at policy discussions. It takes a village.”
Transparency, to LeBeau, is “a big issue for me.”
“If I’m elected, I’m going to embrace technology,” he said.
What the Camp Verde council candidates are saying
Bill LeBeau on taxation:
“I came from a high-tax state (New York). That’s why I’m in Arizona.”
Bill LeBeau on Town Manager Russ Martin’s five-year contract:
“I think the five-year contract is just nuts. I highly respect the town manager, but there’s no guarantee of future performance.”
Alex Goetting on downtown:
I’ve seen sprawl and what that’s done to other communities. I’d like a more walkable community. I love the old town feel of downtown.”
Carol German on economic development:
“I’d like to see affordable housing. We really need some good, quality businesses who will create job opportunities. We need a career technology center. Through the college, adults can also be trained.”
Jackie Baker on money:
“We must learn to live within our budgets.”
Alex Goetting on marshal residency:
“I don’t think we should willy-nilly change it. We need to look within ourselves.”
Charlie German on Camp Verde debt:
“The percentage of our annual debt service to our annual revenues to take care of that debt is less than 10 percent. I don’t know of many mortgages that are that ratio.”
Joe Butner on transparency:
Council should have an “open door policy with regular office hours, so people could come by and voice their concerns.”
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42
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