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Concern about September 2 Elections

I am very concerned about the Sept. 2nd Wickenburg Town Council and Mayoral election. I am concerned that my fellow citizens will avoid becoming involved in this very important contest.

I firmly believe that a strong Chamber of Commerce is not only beneficial to Wickenburg, but is very important to the careful future expansion of our town. But, when is the Chamber doing its job and when is it overly extending its boundaries and becoming too controlling? The Chamber has been way too involved in this election, in my humble opinion.

The Chamber receives a very healthy amount of money from the town through BBB Tax money which is diverted to them. Before the Candidate’s Forum, Julie Brooks, the Executive Director of the Chamber, was asked if the Chamber was going to again support certain candidates as they did in the election two years ago. Her answer, according to reliable sources, was “No, we’re not into politics.” I believe, as a direct result from answers the candidates gave at the forum, the Chamber used this forum as a way to canvass and choose who they wanted to support. Within the same week, the Chamber sent out a flyer demonstrating their support to Mayor Badowski, Darrell Stadel John Cook and Rui Pereira to all the Chamber members. Who paid for this flyer? I am very concerned that the chamber is funneling money received from the town to support political candidates of their choosing. It may not be legally wrong, but is it ethically acceptable for them to do so? Is this an appropriate way for them to utilize the money given to them?

It is my opinion that we need to elect some people who have no connection whatsoever to the Chamber. We already have 3 members closely aligned with the Chamber (Kristi Henson, Secretary of the Chamber, Ron Badowski- Ex-officio Director of the Chamber & Scott Stewart- who sat on the Board of Directors in recent years) and who have voted to support funding to their organization and who have been quite vocal and supportive of it. There is the potential now to have 4 or more of the 7 members of Council having very close ties to the chamber ( Candidate Rui Pereira is married to a former president of the Board of Directors).

The Wickenburg Sun has been very open in its support of Mr. Pereira and Mayor Badowski. Any attempt to balance out the support of other candidates through Letters to the Editor have been effectively stopped by the policies of Kevin Cloe, the publisher. Is it any wonder that Mr. Cloe is also on the Board of Directors of the Chamber?

I believe we need to have more members of the Council seated who represent the interests of the majority of our citizens, not just the interests of a single organization.

I was blessed to have received the support of many of my fellow citizens in the last election. I am asking that the people who supported me 2 years ago consider voting for Scott Colbath and Tim Zoebel for Council and Kelly Blunt for Mayor. We need an injection of fresh faces and new ideas on the Council that will dictate the future of our town.

Last 5 posts by Jim Ferman

7 comments to Concern about September 2 Elections

  • It’s pretty clear to me that the Chamber of Commerce not only has too much power in this town, but they play favorites. I can’t tell you how many chamber members claim that the only reason they belong is because they’re afraid of being blacklisted. Even those that do belong are often overlooked for Chamber-awarded contracts — for example, shirts at Gold Rush Days — in favor of out-of-town Chamber Members with personal relationships to Chamber employees and friends.

    Personally, I’ll make it a point to vote AGAINST any candidate that is supported by the Chamber or the Wickenburg Sun. I urge people who care about the future of the town to do the same.

  • Jim Ferman

    It has been my experience that there are indeed many members of the Chamber who are business members and are afraid to stand up to the Chamber out of fear of being blacklisted or worse. During the Council discussions dealing with the BBB Tax and it’s funneling of money to the Chamber, I personally know of a number of restaurant owners who were infuriated by this, but who didn’t want to speak out publicly out of fear of repercussions. It’s sad that an organization like this is feared by the numbers of people who are.

  • Daryl Drake

    I’ve owned a home here in Wickenburg almost five years. I have formed no allegiances to any group nor have any axes to grind.

    I don’t know about the Chamber’s or Sun’s endorsement, but I attended the forum at the Del Webb Center and to be blunt, found one of the mayoral candidates so seemingly unqualified as to be embarassing. One wag later remarked that perhaps that candidate was in his opponent’s employ.

    Some candidates for council seemed ill-prepared and inarticulate at best, considering they had the questions asked at the forum over a week in advance. None of the non-incumbents offered any real changes in the current council’s direction.

    Am I correct in believing Mr. Zoebel is a single father of three and a sole proprietor? If so, will this allow him the time available to attend meetings and do research as, for instance, his opponent John Cook? What about Mr.
    Colbath’s out of town commitments? How negatively will that affect his performance as a councilperson?

    To vote a “get-the-bums-out” ticket seems like a poor reason to cast one’s vote, if a viable alternative is not available.

    Thanks for THIS forum!

  • Scott Colbath

    In response to Mr. Drake’s comment – “What about Mr. Colbath’s out of town commitments? How negatively will that affect his performance as a councilperson?” I’d like him to know that I made arrangements with my management to work a 0600 A.M. to 02:00 P.M. shift Monday through Wednesday, and work from home Thursdays and Fridays.

    This allows me to be back in town early enough for the 5:30 start time of the council meetings, to meet with town officials prior to the close of business if needed, or to meet with my constituents, should they have the desire. The additional time saved not commuting two days a week can also be applied towards my town council efforts, should I be elected.

    I feel that I have made adequate arrangements to assure that I can perform the job of a councilman, should I get elected. I do hope you will support me.

    My desire to run for council is rooted in a desire to serve my community, not to “get-the-bums-out”. I believe I made it very clear at the forum that I have no axe to grind and that all I want to go is get in, roll up my sleeves and get to work.

    If I have not adequately covered your concerns, please feel free to email me at scottcolbath@gmail.com. I would be happy to discuss anything you may have on your mind.

    Scott Colbath

  • Debbie Blunt

    Mr. Drake,
    I am Kelly Blunt’s wife and felt compelled to reply to your post. Unfortunately, at the Del Webb forum no one got to see Kelly at his best. What no one knew was that Kelly was very ill that evening – his throat was so sore he could barely talk, he had a fever and was nauseous. He almost cancelled but decided to go because he had made the committment. Maybe he should have cancelled. He did not even go to work the next day. If you would have attended the local Republican Club forum on August 25th you would have seen a completely different side of Kelly.
    No, Kelly does not have political experience, but he does have experience dealing with Town issues. His father was building inspector for the Town for 25 years. Kelly was a Wickenburg Volunteer Fireman for 13 years and a Public Works foreman for 4 1/2 years before taking his current position with Southwest Gas.
    Being Mayor, or even a councilman, is a team effort. No one on the council is an expert at everything; they all bring different levels of experience in different areas. That’s what makes a council great – they can all bring different perspectives to a problem. Ron is an expert accountant, but he may not know how a water system is maintained or what the building codes mean – he has staff to advise him in those areas. Kelly knows the ins and outs of public safety and infrastructure, but is not an accountant – he would have staff to advise him in those areas.
    As for Mr. Zobel and Mr. Colbath, I don’t think it is for us to judge whether or not a candidate has time for the position. All of us have busy lives. And those that feel strongly enough about this town are making time to run for office. If they didn’t feel they had the time, they wouldn’t run.
    I can’t speak for Mr. Colbath, but I know Mr. Zobel. Yes he is a single father and business owner. However, his children are 12 and up, their mother also lives in town, their grandparents live in Wickenburg and Yarnell, and he has a great support group of friends that help him out. I know for a fact that he makes the time to research issues, talk to people about the issues, and attends council meetings on a regular basis.
    The current council together with a good town manager have been doing some positive things for our community. We have some great candidates running for office and I think it is fabulous that some younger people are willing to bring a fresh perspective by running for office and being a part of Wickenburg’s future. It is nice to hear people discussing the issues and wanting to be involved – that’s what happens when you have more than one person running for each position!
    So no matter who we feel is right for the job, the most important thing we can all do is get out and vote on September 2nd.
    So, Mr. Drake, welcome to Wickenburg. I’m glad to see newcomers taking an interest in making this a great place to live.
    Debbie Blunt

  • I, for one, would prefer to take a chance on a new Mayor and council members than to allow Wickenburg to continue on its current course.

    The mayor, chamber, and council have put all their eggs in the housing boom/annexation basket. Build more houses so the town’s biggest industry — real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, and title companies — can keep raking in the cash. They are contributors to the burst housing bubble that has brought down the values of our homes. They have done nothing to get new businesses and new employers in this town — in fact, more than a few employers have bailed out or are winding down activities here.

    They seem to think that a “retirement” community with a seasonal population of retirees is a perfectly viable economic situation. But when those retirees go back to the midwest in April and May, what happens to the businesses that are struggling to survive in town? When local busineses fail — at the rate of more than 50% in their first year in this town! — where do the year-round folks get their products and services?

    And how can the businesses stay alive in town when there aren’t any customers? I took my helicopter charter business to Washington State and am now in Page, AZ. I’ve earned more in the past three months than I have in five years working out of Wickenburg.For the past five years, even though I’ve been based in Wickenburg, more than 60% of my revenue has come from out-of-town customers. I fly more charters to the Grand Canyon out of Scottsdale in one month than I do out of Wickenburg for an entire year.

    All of my friends that are in my age group (younger than retired) have moved out of town. They simply could not make a living here.

    And what of the town itself? When I came to Wickenburg 11 years ago, I came here for its small-town, Western atmosphere. Downtown retail shops and businesses businesses have been replaced with Not-For-Retail offices that discourage visitor browsing and make it difficult for the remaining storefronts to survive. High rents make it difficult, if not impossible, for new businesses to start up in nearby spaces.

    A real western downtown business — The Big Corral horse boarding and riding facility — was torn down to make room for a strip mall that was never built. The lot, scraped of all vegetation, became a dust-generating eyesore. Horse property has been sold off to subdividers who don’t allow horses.

    They accuse “outsiders” like me of trying to change the town to make it more like where I came from. But look what they’ve done to my town! I remember what the town was like. I remember when it was a small, real western town. I didn’t do anything to change it. I don’t clamor for a Wal-Mart or whine about high gas prices. I came to Wickenburg for what it was and I’m sick about what it has become.

    If anyone else out there feels as I do, vote the bums out. Almost any independent fresh blood has to be better than what we’ve got.

  • Jim Ferman

    If people took the time to REALLY read what I wrote about the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce, they would know that I was not blasting the Chamber or the fine work they do, I was just questioning their use of a small portion of town funds given to them to support political candidates.
    I also brought up the fact that the Council is now 42% made up of people with direct connections to the Board of Directors of the Chamber. After this election, there is a very real possibility that 57% of that body will have some relationship with the people who run the chamber. I promoted the idea of electing people who have no direct interest in the Chamber in order to balance out the group with common citizens with other interests and goals.
    I have always been very supportive of and have respected Cathy Weiss, the former President of the Chamber. I think the town of Wickenburg has themselves a beautiful and most talented young woman who has done so much for our community. I became concerned, however, when I received a strange sort of backlash from her over her perceived impression that I was putting her husband, Rui Pereira down for being a pro-chamber candidate.
    Some background- in the recent past, Cathy was kind enough to invite my wife, Kathy, and I over to her office in an attempt to smooth over what she perceived was my “hostile” attitude towards the Chamber. I was very flattered that she took the time to do this. We had a nice meeting and the next day, in a gesture of good will, I took her over a 2 pound bag of coffee I had brought back from a recent trip to Columbia as she had said they drink a lot of coffee in her office. After the letter I recently wrote, I was working out of state, in my capacity as an airline captain, when my wife called to deliver some disturbing news. She said that on Wednesday of this week, she went to our mailbox and found that same 2 pound bag of coffee, opened up and jammed into my mailbox! A note was attached saying that she was disappointed with my letter.
    In my run for Town Council a couple of years ago, I knew I was making an impression because suddenly one day I was approached by the Town Building Inspector who wanted to conduct a “surprise” inspection on my home because of a perceived building code violation filed by an anonymous complaintant. I was threatened that, if I did not allow him to walk right into my home without any paperwork or permit, he was going to call the police and they would break the door down. I also was later subject to a last minute smear campaign aimed at my character. I am really getting tired of some people taking it upon themselves to intimidate me. It’s not going to work!