Tue, Jan. 21

Clarkdale council has new face<br><i>Groom chosen to fill council term for next two years</i>

All six applicants had strengths, Leibforth said, but there were two standouts – James Schulz and Doug Von Gausig.

Leibforth also said early in the council meeting that he hoped the new council member would be chosen "for all the right reasons."

During applicant interviews July 2, Schulz told council members the town needs a five-year plan, and slow, planned growth. "I don't like to see big developers move into communities," he had said.

Von Gausig is a former council candidate who received a respectable 40 percent of the total vote in the spring election. He also is an avid birder and owns Bananas Gifts, a manufacturing business in Lower Clarkdale.

During the July 2 interviews, Von Gausig said Verde Valley towns need to work together, and Clarkdale's top priorities are water, disposal and the sewer system.

Other applicants were Rodney Feilitz, Robert Noland and Frank Sa.

Groom took the oath of office immediately after being chosen Tuesday evening. He fills the remaining council term of Michael (Mike) Bluff, now the town's first elected mayor. The council term ends in June 2004.

During the July 2 interviews, Groom said the town should focus on its water and sewer issues.

The council also should encourage businesses to come to the area, he said, adding, "We need to promote business for the tax base."

Prior to Groom's selection, resident Pat Williams said Von Gausig would be the best choice to fill the council vacancy. "He would bring a broad perspective to the council and would be a good balance," she said.

Resident Sandy Boothe also supported Von Gausig, saying he can easily understand difficult issues, such as a search for water sources and the environment.

"He knows the Verde Valley and the people in it," she said. "He has been here a long time."

Teri Leibforth, emphasizing she was speaking as a citizen and not as council member David Leibforth's wife, supported Von Gausig, too.

"He is a man of integrity and immense talent," she said. "He has a fresh perspective on the issues facing us."

Vice Mayor Ellie Bauer, who nominated Groom, said, "I was totally impressed with all six candidates."

Groom has been an active member of the Clarkdale Foundation for a long time and has served previously as a council member, said the vice mayor. "We need that experience at this particular time," she added.

Bauer also urged unsuccessful council applicants to serve on town boards and commissions, which she described as "the real strength of this community."

David Leibforth said Von Gausig would bring "a new voice" to the council table. "I'm repeatedly impressed by his intelligence," he added.

Citing Von Gausig's 40 percent of the spring vote totals, David Leibforth said choosing Von Gausig would result in "a truly representative council."

Referring briefly to Groom's prior council service, David Leibforth said, "I cannot support Tom Groom." However, he did not state any specific reasons.

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