Posts Tagged “Queen Creek”

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.)

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[Edit: Thank you to Queen Creek Councilman Jeff Brown for correcting me on my errors that QC had not given permission on the attempted incorporation - it was actually Florence that had not done so - and the strip annexation law that went into effect back in the mid-90's.]

Banner Health is opening a new hospital located (currently) in San Tan Valley just south and west of the intersection of Gantzel Road and Combs Road (map is here). It will be a major medical facility and serve the people of Eastern Pinal County well – especially since the only other major medical facility for Pinal County is in Casa Grande. That means that when residents of Pinal County, like in, say, Apache Junction, that don’t have insurance but need medical attention or are county dependents, they must be taken to Casa Grande, instead of nearer facilities like Banner Baywood in Mesa.

San Tan Valley is an unincorporated area in Pinal County that is just east and south of the Maricopa County border (and thus the incorporated town of Queen Creek) and north of Florence. This area attempted to incorporate itself several years ago but failed to get the necessary signatures of people living in the area, along with other issues like the City of Florence not giving its permission to incorporate – newly incorporated towns must have permission of all incorporated areas if the new town borders are within 6 miles of an existing town’s borders.

UPDATE 3/26/10: Pinal County has placed a map of the San Tan Valley proposed borders (v5.0 at time of writing) here. The proposal will require the following towns’ approval of the borders: Florence (Anthem Merrill is within 6 miles of the STV border at Hunt Hwy and Magma Rd), Queen Creek (immediately adjacent to border at Gantzel and Combs, among others), and Gilbert (STV border at Signal Butte and Empire is within 6 miles of Gilbert border at Chandler Heights west of Power Rd). Coolidge would be also necessary if Coolidge annexes the land between Highway 87 and Ranchview Rd as that would be within 6 miles of the STV border at the Gantzel alignment and Arizona Farms Rd.

A super majority (> 66%) of the residents of San Tan Valley have moved there in the last 6 years. This is important to note – there were existing residents prior to that, but those residents live nestled in the San Tan Mountain areas and opposed the original incorporation efforts. Those original residents try to distance themselves with the now-majority folk who continue to lobby the Pinal County Supervisors for incorporation.

It is these (relatively) new people that now are up in arms about Queen Creek’s publicly noted annexation consideration of the soon to be opened Banner Ironwood hospital. The opposition usually shouts out with several myths hoping to cast fear, uncertainty, and doubt over the proceedings. What they don’t know is quite obvious, and I will point that out here.

Myth One:

The Town of Queen Creek is a Maricopa County town and is attempting to cross into Pinal County for a land grab.

Reality: Queen Creek already exists in Pinal County and has done so since the town incorporated back in 1989 – a map is available at the Town of Queen Creek Website. Note that QC extends into Pinal County on the South and East (green areas on map).

Myth Two:

The Town of Queen Creek is attempting to dictate to an unincorporated area how things will be done.

Reality: It legally already does so in two ways. One, any unincorporated area within six miles of the QC border cannot be incorporated without QC’s permission. QC gave permission last time in 2004, but now with more at stake, it is unclear of the Council would again give permission if the newly incorporated town’s borders were within the six mile limit of QC’s existing borders. (I’ll update this when I find out more.) Two, QC has a planning area that goes outside of the town limits that does have a say in how things “will be done”… in conjunction with the corresponding county (Maricopa or Pinal). All towns or cities have planning areas, and those planning areas always include the unincorporated areas adjacent to the town/city limits. Obviously places like Tempe and Guadalupe, which are landlocked, do not have the luxury of unincorporated planning areas, but the rest do. QC has a General Plan map available at their website, but it is dated 2006, which I know is not the latest map. The zip code map (above link) contains all the unincorporated areas in the QC Planning Area, which includes the area – in blue – just south of Combs and Gantzel.

Myth Three:

QC is just trying to reap all the taxes a hospital will bring.

Reality: Hospitals like Banner Ironwood are non-profit entities and as such are exempt from a huge amount of taxes that a town would normally otherwise receive from a large business. However, any associated businesses and medical offices that open on lands also annexed by QC would definitely send their tax money to QC… and Pinal County, not Maricopa. People forget that every tax is broken into three levels – city/town, county, and state. For any business conducted in Pinal County, regardless of the location (whether incorporated or not, like say Coolidge or Florence), the County will reap its share of the taxes, and the County tax rate is still exactly the same – 1.1%, which is more than Maricopa County’s 0.7%.

Myth Four:

Only the citizens of an area can vote for annexation.

Reality: Only the LANDOWNERS of the area being discussed can vote for annexation. Banner Health owns the land on which the hospital is being built, and they have approached QC for annexation because QC can provide enhanced levels of service from fire and public safety than Pinal County on its own. Since they are the only landowner in question, their vote is all that matters. Now, there is a Fry’s shopping center on the actual corner of Gantzel and Combs, so the landowners (NOT THE SHOP OWNERS) in that shopping center – and according to the Pinal County Assessor’s office, there are several parcels owned by different people on that particular corner – have the option of being part of the annexation, but all it will actually take is just the parcel that contains the Fry’s Supermarket itself to be annexed in order to annex Banner Ironwood. And make no mistake about it, it’s legal to do so because doing so would NOT create a county island, which is illegal, and it would not be a “strip annexation” because the parcel of land being annexed is greater than 200 ft wide x 300 ft long. If I were Smith’s Food and Drug Centers Incorporated, a BUSINESS, I would probably be considering coming along for the ride for annexation to QC with Banner Ironwood just because of the infrastructure that the Town can provide compared to Pinal County.

So when people start clamoring for the Pinal County Supervisors to step in and “protect the 80,000 citizens of San Tan Valley”, they should know that QC and the landowner – Banner Health – are doing everything by the book, legally, above board. Pinal County really isn’t going to do anything because they still get the hospital inside their county limits and their tax share (1.1%) regardless of whether the hospital is located in an incorporated or unincorporated area.

Hence, the people of San Tan Valley are much ado about nothing. Isn’t that right Mr. Messinger?

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So, back in January, I wrote a brief blurb about my woes looking for Mexican food.

Apparently, someone listened. Filibertos opened last week (to NO fanfare, btw… not even an announcement in the local paper!) in the space that Cravings had vacated in January. I visited, had Super Nachos and came away satisfied. Although, they have some logistical issues to work out – namely, they haven’t quite gotten down how to deal with a large customer base.

Give ‘em time, though. I’m just glad they’re here.

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I noticed that someone has been looking for Randy McCall postings. If you’re really looking, you should look HERE.

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Out here in my part of the Valley of the Sun, someone could EASILY make a mint if they would only:
a) open a Filibertos franchise -OR-
b) open a fish-n-chips franchise.

The closest Filibertos to Queen Creek is 8 miles north of the town limits. The closest fish-n-chips to Queen Creek is 8 miles SOUTH of the town limits. (Yes, I’m referring to the Pirates Fish-n-Chips in Johnson Ranch, and no Johnson Ranch is not a part of Queen Creek town limits despite the QC zip code. For all three of you that read this and live there: deal with it.)

I find this ironic because the only other places that serve fish-n-chips is Long John Silvers/Taco Bell, which no one goes to specifically for Long John Silvers food, unless it’s Lent and then it’s because the other option – the local Catholic church – doesn’t have a drive-thru for their fish fry.

Also ironic are the four Mexican restaurants (Taco Bell does NOT count) in the town limits, 3 of which are located within the same one mile radius of each other, and NONE of which are open 7 days a week, and none of them are “inexpensive”. If I want Super Nachos, for example, on a Sunday evening for dinner, I have to drive to Filibertos in Mesa.

Either way, that’s not cool, and I really hope someone figures it out soon so I can save my gas and my time.

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