Tue, Jan. 28

Round two for Clarkdale elections

Since the Clarkdale election race for two four-year council terms was too close to call back in March voters have another chance to decide between candidates Tom Groom, Pat Williams and Frank Sa.

The mail-in ballots have already been sent out to Clarkdale voters and the deadline to return those ballots is May 18.

In the March election Williams received 543 votes, Sa got 344 and incumbent Groom took in 577. In order to win a primary, a candidate must get a majority of the ballots cast. In the March race, 588.5 votes were necessary to be declared the winner.

Only two months later, many of the issues are the same as they were in March and the candidates are ready for the race.

Frank Sa:

Sa is originally from Hawaii and moved to Clarkdale seven years ago. He's been in the construction business for most of his life and says he's tired of hearing people criticize the way the town is run.

"Instead of just complaining about it, we might as well do something about it," he said.

Sa has served on the town's general plan board, the land use commission and is currently on the board of adjustments.

Before coming to Arizona, he and his wife volunteered with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

As for the major issues encircling Clarkdale, Sa wants to make sure things get done the right way.

Mountain Gate, the impending 606-home development coming to Clarkdale, is one of the projects Sa would like to see done correctly. He said he's seen a number of developments in Phoenix lose funding halfway through construction.

"There isn't much I can do for it now," Sa said. "I am for development, for improvement. But I am for controlled improvement."

The reclamation of the old slag pile currently sitting in the town is another issue that seems to be gaining controversy.

Sa said he's concerned with the noise the project may involve. Other than that, he thinks it could provide jobs and "long-term income" for the town.

Tom Groom:

Groom has served the Clarkdale council for two different two-year terms. He's a current council member and says the issues now are the same as in March.

"We're moving ahead on Mountain Gate, which allows us to move forward on the sewer system," Groom said.

The developers involved with Mountain Gate have agreed to help the town in financing a sewer treatment plant.

Groom said this could help with water conservation in the future. The town will be able to utilize reclaimed water for a number of uses, he said.

Water is, of course, a hot issue in Clarkdale, and Groom feels strongly that solutions need to be discussed.

"We have to address all these water issues with some solutions … not just 'there's a problem'," he said.

Groom also wants to see the slag pile gone. He's in favor of the reclamation operation that might start soon.

He says his platform is to offer solutions to the problems the town faces, not just to list the problems. With a strong background in finance, Groom says his experience will continue help the town.

Groom says he feels this has been a negative campaign -- the negativity coming from one of his opponent's supporters, he said.

"I haven't thrown any mud … we just try to keep it above board and keep it to the issues."

Pat Williams:

Williams has served on many Clarkdale boards and organizations. Deeply involved with the town's Heritage Conservancy Board, the past is important to Williams. But water is her No. 1 focus.

"Everything hinges on the water," Williams said. "If you don't have the water, you can't build the houses."

After water, the Yavapai Ranch land exchange is second on Williams' list of priorities. She even hinted that if the majority is in favor of doing it, the new council could reverse Clarkdale's current stance in favor of the trade.

She also hopes that new council helps to foster communication with the public. The public process involved with Mountain Gate was a step in the right direction, Williams said, even if she didn't like the outcome.

"I don't think there's anything you can do about Mountain Gate," Williams said. "It just moved too quickly."

She said many don't realize the impact the development will have on the town.

The slag pile is another subject Williams is currently focusing on. She said she hasn't made up her mind yet, but hears both sides of the argument.

With a long history of working with the public and volunteering in Clarkdale, Williams says she wants the job because she's always been involved and was disappointed early on in the election race when not many had thrown their hats into the ring.

"It is a thankless job, being a council member, because there are so many things that have to be considered in a decision," Williams said.

So far her campaign is going well. Voters have been approaching her to find out her views. That is something Williams says she appreciates.

A group of supporters have formed their own Political Action Committee, according to Williams. She said they have sent post cards to voters touting "facts" about Groom's voting records, along with a pro-Williams message.

She said she's not affiliated with the group and has sent out two of her own campaign post cards that do not mention the other candidates.

"It is negative, but I don't think it's negative the way national politics are played," Williams said of the PAC's tactics.

Williams said it won't be long before more development comes to Clarkdale. She would rather see restaurants and maybe a hotel before any more housing developments, though.

She says she wants to be the "prudent, careful voice that will get all the facts and do the research."

All three candidates are vying for two spots. Voters have until May 18 to return their ballots.

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