The road to the Cave Creek Council Election forum to be held Feb. 12
Staff Report~ 2/4/2015
CAVE CREEK – Recall election ballots will be sent to Cave Creek residents this month. Find out more about the candidates at an election forum on Thursday, Feb. 12, 7 p.m., at the Cave Creek Town Hall.
This forum will be open to the general public and offers an opportunity to learn more about the candidates’ backgrounds and plans for Cave Creek’s future. Dr. Adam Symonds, Director of Speech & Debate, Arizona State University, will moderate the forum.
The Cave Creek Town Hall is located at 37622 N. Cave Creek Road, in Cave Creek.
The Foothills Focus is continuing to profile recall election candidates. In this week’s paper, Councilmember Charlie Spitzer and his opponent Steve LaMar share their opinions and their goals for Cave Creek.
Candidate Charles Spitzer
This March, Cave Creek Town Councilman Charles Spitzer’s seat will be challenged after efforts have dragged on for nearly two years to recall him and three other councilmen since taking office and firing the longtime town manager in May 2013.
Spitzer almost faced a recall election in June 2014 when political committee Cave Creek Caring Citizens filed petitions to recall him and Councilmen Mike Durkin, Adam Trenk, and Reg Monachino. However, a judge ruled the signatures gathered on the petitions could not be verified, and said other forms were filled out incorrectly throwing the petitions out, sparing all four councilmen from a recall.
Immediately after Cave Creek Caring Citizens lost its lawsuit in June, it filed paperwork for recalls again this time successfully; now Spitzer faces candidate and former councilman Steve LaMar in a special recall election this March.
“Frankly, I think it is all negative, and it’s splitting our town apart,” Spitzer said in a phone interview about the recalls.
Despite the threats of recall before even being sworn into office, he says the town council is doing everything to operate a normal town and looking to the future by improving vital infrastructure that went neglected under the old town council.
“We have found massive infrastructure maintenance problems that were neglected all the years while Mr. LaMar was serving,” says Spitzer.
Spitzer claims that during the four years that LaMar served on the town council, the water advisory board was disbanded, and pumps had failed at the towns water waste treatment plant for almost seven years causing drinking water to be dumped into Cave Creek wash.
“That was about 12 percent of our water usage for the entire year,” he said. “We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars just in electricity and water costs alone, and 12 percent of that was wasted because of that one pump failure that Mr. LaMar’s council didn’t fix.”
Spitzer says that the current town council is the most honest, open, and financially astute council that has served so far, citing many strides the town has made in improving transparency, such as streaming live council meetings, making the town checkbook available online, reinstating the water advisory board, and assigning elected official town email accounts that are subject to public scrutiny.
Over the past few weeks, Spitzer has been knocking on voters’ doors to talk to them about the upcoming election, and based on the feedback he is getting from Cave Creek citizens, he is confident he will retain his council seat.
“There is disappointment that the town is being put through this; it is a negative drain on the town finances, it is a negative drain on the publicity the town gets, causing visitors to not want to come here, thus causing less revenue to the town,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer encourages Cave Creek citizens to participate in the town council meetings, be informed voters, and to participate in the meetings while the next budget and capital improvement plans to improve roads and the water plant are drawn up.
“We followed out with all our promises, and we will continue to keep making our promises,” he said.
Charles Spitzer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candidate Steve LaMar
Steve LaMar has been a Cave Creek resident since 1986 and is no stranger to Cave Creek politics. He has previously served two terms on the Cave Creek Council, which he is now running for again in the special election in March. He will oppose current Councilmember Charlie Spitzer. LaMar also unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Council in 2013 when the current Council was elected.
As a longtime resident, LaMar has seen many changes in Cave Creek.
“I was on the first planning commission for the Town of Cave Creek,” LaMar said. “I helped write the general plan for Cave Creek when we incorporated as a town.”
LaMar noted that he “came to Cave Creek to have a barn and my own horses.” LaMar, a retired attorney, embraces Cave Creek’s atmosphere and says he wants to “keep it having a small-town feel.”
LaMar says his “number one priority” is securing open space around Cave Creek. He also commented on partnering with local businesses and changing the marketing of Cave Creek.
“In the last couple of years – this is my observation and shared by a lot of people – it’s turned into this bar town with ‘special events’ every weekend,” LaMar said. “This serves a handful of businesspeople, but it doesn’t serve most of the businesspeople in the town core.” LaMar added that there has “got to be a balance” and that he would “have a more comprehensive marketing partnership plan with local merchants and our Chamber of Commerce for helping all the businesses and not just some.”
LaMar emphasized that having Cave Creek become a “tourist trap” is not his vision for the town and that he wanted to see people “come here to spend money, not just to drink and drive back to Phoenix.”
“Right now, I don’t see anybody taking that challenge on,” LaMar said, adding that Cave Creek needs a “more balanced partnership with our local businesses.”
When asked why he felt the recall was necessary, LaMar alleged, “The Councilmen were leading and conducting town business around getting rid of the town manager without the benefit of town council and public hearings.” LaMar called the current Council a “slate.” LaMar added that he “has not thought about” making any changes with the current town manager.
When asked what he would do differently from the current Council, LaMar said he would hold fewer executive sessions and avoid lawsuits. LaMar also listed engaging the local business community and forming a team of consultants to market with the state land department as future goals.
LaMar said, if elected, he would help mend Cave Creek’s political rift by “reaching out to the folks of Cave Creek.” He added that he started and maintains a community Facebook page, For the Love of Cave Creek, which notes achievements and milestones around Cave Creek.
LaMar referred to “open space and building community access to it” as the most vital issue facing Cave Creek.
“That’s the hallmark and backbone of who we are,” LaMar said.
Steve LaMar can be contacted at (602) 480-7983.