Thu, Jan. 23

Sa, Williams trounce Groom in Clarkdale

The voters of Clarkdale have made it clear: they're ready for a change.

Back at the March primary election, voters chose Doug Von Gausig over incumbent Ellie Bauer for the mayoral post. Jerry Wiley, who ran unopposed, was picked for a two-year council position.

Too close to call in March, the race for two, four-year council seats was decided Tuesday. Voters chose newcomers Frank Sa and Pat Williams over incumbent Tom Groom.

About 57 percent of Clarkdale's eligible voters completed their mail-in ballots this time around. That's down only slightly from the primary when 64 percent voted.

According to the Yavapai County elections Web site, Pat Williams received 763 votes, Frank Sa got 568 and Tom Groom brought in 373.

With three new council members and a new mayor, Clarkdale's council will contain only one "current" council member, Rex Williams.

Mayor-elect Von Gausig says the new council could have a different approach to some philosophical decisions.

"They all want to grow in a very health sustainable, environmentally friendly way … I think that could be a difference," Von Gausig said of the new council. "I know the majority of the new council is not in favor of the Ruskin, Yavapai Ranch land exchange."

However, Von Gausig said he is not in favor of revisiting issues that have already been decided by the former council.

"I'm not going to put Ruskin back on the agenda myself," Von Gausig said.

He said if another council member decides to do so, the group will discuss it. But there are plenty of new items for the council to take up and revisiting issues tends to split the community, he said.

Some of those new items include Clarkdale's budget, the formation of a fire district and the joint-effort with Cottonwood on the acquisition of local water companies.

"There's no big issue that we aren't going to have to take up as a new council," Von Gausig said.

In preparation for the hand off, Von Gausig has been allowed to attend executive sessions since his March win. He will in turn help get Pat Williams and Sa up to speed.

"The real work begins now," Williams said of her new position.

She said she was happy with the voter turn out and believes the new council will be effective and productive.

"I think we have a good council," she said. "I think we can think very carefully about the direction Clarkdale is going in."

Current mayor Michael Bluff says he's not so sure the new council will be that different from the current one.

"It will certainly have a different make up," Bluff said. "I don't see any huge changes in direction in the council. It will be a good group and I'm sure they'll work well together."

Bluff said he has mixed feelings about leaving the council he's served for so long.

"I'll miss it, that's for sure," Bluff said. I enjoyed doing it, serving on the council. It's probably the best thing I've ever done."

But Von Gausig is ready to take over the reins.

His plans for the future of Clarkdale include possibly adding an economic development element to the town's current general plan.

He also wants to look into grants and other funding sources to help improve the town's managerial infrastructure.

"We're just blessed with spectacular people … they need better infrastructure all the way around," he said.

One of the biggest ideas Von Gausig would like to see take hold is moderation. He said many communities are being pulled apart by recognizing only two sides of an issue. There is a need for everyone to come together and compromise, he said.

Clarkdale's problems are huge, he said. But they are solvable.

"We can't do it by doing it with this team mentality of us against them," Von Gausig said

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