Tue, July 16

Nine to seek seats on Jerome council
Staggered terms, form of government also on ballot

During a time when many cities have trouble finding candidates for councils or school boards, Jerome may have a record number of town council candidates for the March primary.

Town Clerk Al Palmieri said if it isn't a record number of candidates it is the most he can remember.

He said there isn't any underlying issue that he's aware of responsible for the increased interest in town government. "I think there's been a revival of people wanting to be involved," Palmieri said.

A date has not been set, but Palmieri said the town will hold a candidates night in late January or early February. He said several people have requested that the town not ask the League of Women Voters to host the event. Instead, the Jerome Action Group will put on the candidates forum.

With nine candidates for five open council seats, it is possible for the council election to be finalized during the general election in May. Usually, the candidates are elected during the primary, which will be March 14.

Palmieri said a candidate must receive half of all votes cast plus one to win during the primary. "Because so many people are running, their votes could be spread out," he said. "We're not used to this."

Council member John Scarcella is the only member not to seek re-election.

Incumbents running for another term are Mayor Jane Moore, Vice Mayor Lisa Rappaport, and council members Jeannie (Jet) Tennant John (Bob) Bouwman.

Challengers include Gilbert Robinson, a member of the town's planning and zoning commission, and Anne Bassett a former town councilwoman.

Rebekah Kennedy, a shopkeeper and student, is seeking her first term on the council, as is Pamela Ravenwood, a freelance writer and grant writer for Clarkdale.

Louis Galluzzi, who is experienced in construction and education, is the final candidate.

Two important questions also will be on the Jerome ballot.

The first question will ask voters if the council members should be elected to four-year terms instead of the current two years. If that question is approved, the terms will also be staggered beginning with the 2008 election. Currently, all five council seats come up for re-election at the same time.

The second question will ask voters for permission for the town to become a Council/Manager form of government. That style of government allows the town to hire a town manager who is responsible to the council for managing the town and all of its departments.

Currently, Jerome is one of the last towns in Arizona to use a Council/Commission form of government. This system requires that -- in the absence of a town manager -- council members must accept commissioner positions to oversee the town's various departments, such as public safety, water and sewer and parks and recreation.

If voters approve the change, the council will not be required to switch to the Council/Manager form of government. But they will have the option to do so if the town can come up with the money and qualified candidates for the position.

Palmieri said state law requires that once voters approve the new form of government, the option must be put in action within "a reasonable amount of time."

"Hopefully, they can hire a manager somewhere along the line," Palmieri said. "I can stay on as clerk for a little while."

Palmieri said the town clerk position, which exists under the Council/Commission form of government now in place in Jerome, is becoming increasingly difficult to perform.

"It wasn't tough to do this job 10 years ago," he said. "But it is today."