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Your Vote Can Stop the Selling Off of Wickenburg

Wickenburg is for sale. Have you heard? Just propose a rezoning to pack as many homes as you can into a piece of property, whisper the right words to our elected officials, and they’ll give you the votes you need to cut Wickenburg into smaller and smaller pieces. Heck, they don’t even pay attention to the recommendations of the Planning and Zoning Commission anymore. Why should they? P & Z doesn’t have as much at stake as these folks do.

Worried about infrastructure to support all these new homes? Why should you? The elected officials certainly don’t seem to be worried at all.

Isn’t it all about revenue? Revenue for the town through property taxes. Revenue for the developers — many of which don’t even use local contractors — and Realtors through home sales. Revenue to certain elected officials through real estate-related gains to themselves, their businesses, and/or their families. What’s the saying? Money talks? Money is certainly talking at the front of the room in Town Council meetings.

I see a trend here. Get involved in real estate and then get elected to the Town Council. Or let a family member become mayor. You can profit — at the expense of the Wickenburg lifestyle, which is disappearing before our very eyes.

Have you ever seen a town this size with so many Realtors? There has to be at least a hundred of them. Have you ever wondered about that? Could it be that Wickenburg’s biggest business is turnover and that the products sold and resold and resold are homes and businesses? Obviously the only way to make that business thrive is to get more homes in town. More product to sell and resell and resell.

Election Day in Wickenburg for three Town Council seats is coming up on November 7. Let’s take a look at the candidates.

  • Phil Richardson is a Realtor who operates Realty Executives. He’s already on the Town Council and, except on the very few occasions when he says there is a conflict of interest, he votes in favor of any zoning that will increase the number of homes or businesses available for sale. He’s the guy who bulldozed The Big Corral in downtown Wickenburg, turning a quaint western trail ride/stable business into a dustbowl, with dreams of putting a strip mall in its place. More than three years later, it’s still an eyesore, now sporting his re-election signs. And where exactly is his campaign funding coming from? Local landowners he recently voted in favor of changing zoning for and a company in Utah? Who else do we know with ties to Utah?
  • Kristi Hensen is a mortgage loan officer. Is there any doubt in your mind how she will vote in a zoning issue? And has anyone seen where her funding is coming from?
  • Scott Stewart owns a hardware store in town. His campaign is likely based on his status as a long-time business owner. For some reason, however, he doesn’t think Council members should sign a Code of Ethics. Does he have ties to real estate, too? Perhaps a good friend of his sells real estate? And have you read his personal introduction on the Wickenburg Sun‘s Web site? Mr. Stewart obviously didn’t get A’s in English. The guy comes off sounding like an idiot. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve seen three consecutive words spelled wrong in one publicly-released document. Good thing he’s not running for School Board.

These are the candidates the Wickenburg Sun is supporting. (The Sun‘s editorial suggests the Publisher prefers Jim Ferman, but if you read between the lines, you’ll see he’s suggesting Ferman as an “experiment” and really favors Stewart. Not that I’m suggesting that anyone read the Sun.) But we all know that the Sun is nothing more than a rubber stamp for everything that makes Wickenburg’s population grow. After all, they need to sell more newspapers. More people, more papers. Doesn’t matter if there isn’t enough content in each issue to keep a person busy more than ten minutes. And do they really care about the Wickenburg lifestyle?

Now let’s look at three other candidates, those endorsed by the Committee for Honesty and Integrity in Politics (CHIPs).

  • Chris Band works in the Phoenix area in the insurance business. He moved to Wickenburg with his wife and young son after learning from the Town of Wickenburg Web site that Wickenburg had “clean air, good country living, western hospitality and all-around high quality of life.” He’s running for council because he’s concerned that recent decisions by elected officials may have a negative impact on the Wickenburg way of life he wants for his family.
  • Jim Ferman is a Captain for Continental Airlines. His concern over the loss of the Wickenburg lifestyle is apparent by the number of times he’s spoken up at Town Council meetings and written letters to the Editor of the Sun. He’s all for a Code of Ethics and wants Wickenburg to carefully plan and control its growth, assuring that proper infrastructure is in place to support new homes and residents.
  • George Wilkinson is a retired engineer who came to Wickenburg to escape the stressful lifestyle of the Phoenix area. He saw the western lifestyle of Wickenburg to be similar to that of Oklahoma where he grew up. Now, years after moving here, he feels that the town council has accelerated the expansion of Wickenburg at the expense of town services, stressing the town budget, personnel, and citizens. He wants to stop the trend of uncontrolled growth and help make changes that recognize the needs of Wickenburg’s residents, including retirees like him.

None of these three people have anything to gain financially from being Council members. Their decisions will be in the best interest of the town, not their personal finances or the finances of their friends, supporters, or family members. They have no ulterior motives, no secret alliances. They want to make Wickenburg a better place. They’re willing to sacrifice their personal time to preserve Wickenburg’s lifestyle.

Now if your interests in Wickenburg go beyond schemes to suck money out of it, which three would you vote for?

Last 5 posts by John Aabbott

3 comments to Your Vote Can Stop the Selling Off of Wickenburg

  • Dave McLane

    I’m the news/webmaster of http://www.congress-arizona.com and this article looks like it would be interesting to people in Congress. We could copy the whole thing and attribute it to this page (we have permission to duplicate articles from the Wicksun) or we could put a summary on a page on our site with a link to the full text on your site. I favor the latter but whichever you think is best.



  • Yes, please do share this article with your readers. Either method would do the trick, as long as the author (John) gets credit.

  • Cassandra Rogers

    Scott Stewart is the live-in of everybody’s favorite local real estate agent, Cheri Noel (who was, until recently, ALSO employed as the administrative assistant to the town planner). Ties to real estate and interest in growth? I would say so. Anyone interested in just how tied Scott is to real estate should do a public record search on the Maricopa County Recorder’s web site on their recent real property purchases and sales. Public record searches also reveal the true nature of claims to the business Mr. Stewart “owns.” However, on a more community-oriented note, Stewart’s live-in IS running for school board (funny you mentioned that). Maybe Stewart’s illiteracy is her inspiration. That’s sweet.