Queen Creek Elections 2010

No surprise, voter apathy reigns again. Almost 12,000 registered voters in Queen Creek and only just over 2400 were returned in an ALL-MAIL ELECTION. (The actual number returned was 2422.)

This is what kills me – you don’t have to wait in line in a polling place. You just fill in your ballot, place it in the POSTAGE-PAID ENVELOPE, and then drop it off in the mail. I mean, how lazy do you have to be to not even do that?

The result of voter apathy? Out of the seven candidates for three council seats, six of them will be running against each other again in May. The reason is because none of the candidates reached the required minimum 50% + 1 of the vote necessary to win a seat outright.

That means out of 2422 ballots returned, there should have been 7266 votes for a total of 7 candidates. Except, there wasn’t:

John Alston (1179)
Julia Wheatley (1138)
Chris Clark (1063)
Dawn Oliphant (1036)
Toni Valenzuela (639)
Daniel Hall (621)
Audri Mansour (429)

That’s a total of 6109 votes, a full 1100+ votes short. That means that on several ballots, people only voted for one or two candidates instead of three. Granted, that’s their right to do so.

But that’s also the problem. Because three candidates did not win a seat outright (needing 1212 votes each), another election has to take place. And if this happens again, ANOTHER run-off election will have to take place. The only good thing is that one candidate was knocked out immediately for not getting 20% of the vote (Mansour only got 18%).

So, did I vote? Yes, I did. I voted for three candidates. In fact, I did my research on all seven and chose three who I felt represented a broad range within Queen Creek AND who could more accurately represent QC. More importantly, I chose the candidates that have a documented history of working for and with local governments and volunteer service. That, I think, is key because actions speak much more loudly than just campaign rhetoric.

I voted for –

Chris Clark – because he’s been a resident for over five years, which would represent that middle-length resident (like myself, except I’ve been here 9.5 years). He’s also completed the QC Citizen Leadership Institute – which not many have been qualified to participate in to begin with – and the QC Community Emergency Response Training. He’s on the town’s Transportation Advisory and Disaster Management Committees and organizes the QC Neighborhood Summit. He’s even a part of the QC Chamber of Commerce. In short, he’s active in everything about the town government, he’s just not paid for it – so why not give him the job.

Dawn Oliphant – because she’s a 4+ year resident, representing those residents who moved here since the housing bubble. She’s worked in government (in Tempe) for 17 years in several departments (Tax/License, Police, Court, and HR). She’s not a politician, just someone who has done her time working for the local government and has seen several facets of it from the inside. I would trust her to represent me.

Toni Valenzuela – because she’s a lifetime resident (64 years – which predates the town’s incorporation date) and would represent long time residents. And by long-time I include those who were here prior to the housing bubble (pre-2004). She’s also a businesswoman, having a restaurant downtown, and she’s a former councilwoman so she has a clue. She’s also the ONLY minority running for council for a town that has approximately one-third (as of 2006 Census estimate) of its population as minorities. If the council is to represent the ENTIRE town, then this fact cannot be overlooked.

I did not vote for, and would strongly recommend AGAINST –

Daniel Hall – he’s been a resident for only 3+ years, which doesn’t represent me in the least bit. Nothing really else is known about him. Big unknown = big problem. Even his answer to the EV Tribune on why he is qualified to be a council member doesn’t actually answer the question – “I want to better improve the town as a whole.” Really? Who doesn’t? HOW are you going to achieve that Mr. Hall? No answer… Again, no list of what he’s done in terms of public service, working with government or volunteerism.

Julia Wheatley – 2.5 year resident. Not representative of me, or even 1/3 of the town for that matter. Stay-at-home (more on this below) mom whose father is the former Gilbert vice-mayor (Eldon Hastings) and her brother is a councilman in Utah. In other words, she comes from a political background. That’s NOT representative of me, and I certainly don’t want a councilwoman whose views will be influenced by other political (active or not) members of her immediate family. I mean, there’s always a family member that thinks s/he knows what would be good for the town, but in her case, it’s more than just one, and those members have some real political clout – I certainly DON’T want to see QC turn into another Gilbert. Also, from her own website:

Julia has enjoyed working in various aspects of the legal field as a paralegal.

So, does that mean she’s no longer working? I take this to mean yes, she’s a stay-at-home mom.

For the last eight years, Julia has been professionally involved as the Program Director at the American Institute of Dental Assisting as well as being an instructor. She has helped many students obtain an education, improve their lives and enter a profession that gives them confidence in themselves and hope for the future.

What does that mean “professionally involved”? I mean, if I took that at face value, I too could say I’m professionally involved with Mazda Corporation because I have enabled their employees to continue innovation, improve their lives, and continue a profession that gives them confidence in themselves (… because I have purchased a Mazda vehicle.)

Does Mrs. Wheatley get paid by the AIDA? Is this a part-time job or is it on a as-needed-basis? Either way, it’s a group that is to support a small niche of people – which is ok, don’t get me wrong, I’m not disparaging the AIDA – but I seriously question whether that qualifies her to be a council member.

Julia is a member of Eagle Forum, the largest pro-family movement, a nationwide organization that supports traditional family values, less government involvement in citizens lives, respect for family integrity, private enterprise and lower taxes.

And here’s the final red flag. In fact, this red flag is a large STOP sign in front of a brick wall. Now, family values are great, but any private organization that supports “traditional family values” needs to be checked – what is their definition of “traditional”, and what do they mean by “respect for family integrity”? In fact, what is their definition of “family”? Also, the org is definitely political – “less government involvement” and “lower taxes”. Does this mean that she’s going to get “advice” from this group in making her voting decisions? (Very likely.) And no one seems to mind? I think maybe they glossed over this – I almost did, since it’s at the very bottom of her website, almost like an afterthought. Anytime a candidate comes in name-dropping political organizations like this, you have to stop and really consider what is going on.

The bottom line: is Mrs. Wheatley REALLY qualified on her own or is she just riding the coattails of her father, brother, and this political organization to get elected? I say the answer is overwhelmingly NO.

Now, I’m on the fence on John Alston – a six-year resident who is an attorney. Now attorneys generally claim to be good with understanding the laws and the issues, but the fact is that their position also lets them see all loopholes available to them and insulates them from really seeing what’s best for the people because they generally tend to overanalyze. That’s not a good thing, in my opinion. And anyway, an attorney makes WAY more than a council member, so what is it that he has to gain other than a political position? Will his regular job interfere with council meetings? (Meaning, won’t he have to spend time preparing for court and that means not having time to spend on town issues?) There’s nothing I’ve been able to find that shows any amount of public service or volunteer work Mr. Alston has performed. That’s a red flag to me. I want my council members to have experience in this area so they understand and reach as many people as possible. Now, if Mr. Alston has spent some time as a public defender or has a decent list of pro bono cases, then I would easily reconsider him as a council member and vote for him instead.

(And Audri Mansour is a moot point since she’s been dropped from the race.)