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Parkside candidates share viewpoints at forum; write-in votes, residency questioned

2/22/17

Elizabeth Medora
Staff

ANTHEM – Candidates for the Parkside seat on the Anthem Community Council Board of Directors and for the Anthem Parkside Community Association Board of Directors gathered on Feb. 15 for a Meet the Candidates night at the Anthem Civic Building.

Dino Cotton, Bettye Ruff, and Frankie Ruiz are running for the ACC Board of Directors. Tim Fyke, Ron Jerich, and Shari Miller are running for the APCA Board of Directors.

Each candidate noted their reasons for running and how they planned to help the community.

Cotton noted that he wants to help support local business owners and build communication between the board and the community.

“I’m really looking forward to helping the business community,” Cotton said.

Ruff has served over five years on the Parkside board and is involved with several community non-profits.

“I have always supported Anthem,” Ruff said, adding that she has “always been an advocate for supporting Anthem Parkside and the residents.”

Ruiz said that, as an 8-year Army veteran, he sees the importance of “leading from the front.”

“I want to be part of the direction Anthem goes,” Ruiz said.

Parkside Board of Directors candidate Fyke has served six years on the ACC Board of Directors. He noted that he hadn’t been planning to run for another office, but after hearing that the Parkside board would be losing “two very, very good board members” [Ruff, who is seeking another office, and Loren Linscott, who is not seeking re-election], Fyke decided to run for the Parkside Board.

“I figured, I got two more years in me,” Fyke said, noting the responsibilities of the position and the need for further communication between the Parkside board and the residents, saying that he is always willing to talk with residents, in person and through social media.

Jerich noted he is a retired steel executive and said he knows “how to communicate.”

“Parkside is going to come to the forefront,” Jerich said, referencing “improvements that can be made and will be made with your help and the help of the residents.”

Miller referenced her past experience as a system engineer and her work on multiple Anthem committees.

“I know how to problem solve,” Miller said. “I have an open door policy.”

Beyond the typical candidate questions, the Parkside forum spotlighted candidate qualifications, specifically residency and if write-in votes are counted.

Each candidate was asked specifically if they live in Parkside, and five said yes. Jerich, however, is a Country Club resident who owns property in Parkside.

“I’ve got time, and I’m going to run because I think there’s a job that needs to be done in Parkside,” Jerich said in response to the residency question.

Parkside staff confirmed to The Foothills Focus that the qualifications for running for the Parkside board do not specifically state that candidates must live in Parkside, provided that they are homeowners in good standing. A candidate could even live out of state and run for the board, provided they meet the other qualifications.

Fyke noted at the forum that living in a community helps board members see firsthand what’s happening in the community and said that with running for the Parkside board instead of the ACC board, he is “switching gears from seeing the entire community to seeing what my fellow residents are seeing.”

The issue of write-in candidates was brought forth; Parkside Board President Doug Sutherland said write-in candidates would not be counted due to technical difficulties with electronic counting.

Recently, Parkside resident and Anthemstuff creator Jeanne Boulware launched a social media campaign as a write-in for the Parkside board, as she did not file to run by the cutoff date. She said in a statement to The Foothills Focus that, as a stay at home mom, she had questioned whether she could properly contribute to the APCA Board and had let that self-doubt stop her from submitting her candidacy application by the deadline.

“Since then, I checked with knowledgeable people and was even told by a former APCA President that write in was a possible and viable way to run, as previously write in votes had been counted in elections.  I for one have written in a candidate before,” Boulware said.

“When I decided to run as a write in candidate, I had no idea that it would snowball as it has.  While I respect President Sutherland’s decision to not count write ins this election, I do not agree with his opinion or stance,” Boulware continued, saying she’s disappointed that voters who choose to write in a candidate “won’t have their voices heard” and that the HOA should encourage voter participation. She emphasized, however, that she respects the decision made.

“Since then, I have approached the board and President Sutherland about other ways to serve in my HOA. We have already come up with other plans, and I am so happy I can work and serve in my community.  It's my hope to encourage others, who may feel as I did, to speak up and find ways to serve in our community,” Boulware concluded.

It's uncertain whether write-in votes have been counted in the past. According to Parkside Community Manager Mary Beth Zahn, the last time write-in candidates were on the ballot was in 2011, and those votes were not counted because they were for “cartoon characters and pets.”

“Our documents do not have a requirement to include write in candidates,” Zahn wrote in an email to The Foothills Focus. “We have not had write in candidates on the ballots since 2011. There is no law in Arizona that requires us to include the write-in option on the ballot.”

Live streaming meetings for those who can’t attend board meetings has been brought up repeatedly, and candidates agreed this would be a good idea, if it can be made financially feasible.

“I’ve always been for openness,” Miller said regarding recording meetings. “I think it would be a great asset.”

Voting in these elections is open to Anthem residents: homeowners and renters whose landlords give them proxy to vote. Voting has now begun and will continue through March 17; ballots can be returned by mail, or voters can vote online.

See candidate bios and more voting information at http://onlineatanthem.com/apca-elections.