2/1/2013 8:08:00 AM Candidates air views on economic development and other issues
A forum for the eight candidates for the Prescott Valley Town Council and mayor drew more than 100 people to the library auditorium Wednesday evening. Shown participating in the forum are, from left, Douglas Bebb, incumbent Michael Whiting, Louie Lizza, Marty Grossman, Stephen Marshall, Mayor Harvey Skoog, Matt Zurcher and Craig Arps.
Photo courtesy Ken Hedler
Ken Hedler Special to the Tribune
The eight, all-male candidates for Town Council and mayor expressed their visions for the community and aired views on economic development, water and other issues during a two-hour forum Wednesday.
Only one candidate, Louie Lizza, a retired New York City police officer who is trying to unseat two-term Mayor Harvey Skoog, spoke highly critical of the council.
Lizza, who formerly served two years on the homeowners association board at the StoneRidge subdivision, criticized what he perceived as favorable treatment to developers by authorizing the issuance of bonds to finance community facilities districts in StoneRidge and other subdivisions.
He also characterized as "sweetheart deals" development agreements with the Fain Signature Group in which the town has kicked back portions of sales tax proceeds to enable Fain to pay for infrastructure and pay off the bond for financing Tim's Toyota Center.
Skoog responded to Lizza later on during the forum by saying the deals helped the town.
Lizza and some other candidates identified themselves as "fiscal conservatives," while Craig Arps went steps further by calling himself a born-again Christian who favors "limited government."
Arps, Marty Grossman and Matt Zurcher are running for the open two-year seat in the March 12 election. Council appointee Michael Whiting, Stephen Marshall and Douglas Bebb are running for two council seats.
Mayors are elected to four-year terms.
Whiting and Skoog are the only candidates who served in elected offices while Zurcher previously served on the staff for a Los Angeles County supervisor and for two members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The candidates spoke at a forum that drew more than 100 people to the library auditorium. The Prescott Valley Economic Prosperity Committee and Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation sponsored the forum, and County Supervisor Tom Thurman served as moderator.
The forum began with opening statements. Bebb, owner of Mad Fellows, a research and engineering firm, said, "Government should be an agent of change and not the source of change. We are a growing town. We will bring in value-added jobs."
Bebb said he offers a background in quality analysis and mathematical modeling.
Next to speak was Whiting, whom the council appointed in February to replace Henry Schmitt, who resigned for health reasons. Whiting said he has spent 30 years in the public sector, both at jobs and as a volunteer.
"I feel I can bring common-sense to leadership," Whiting said. An Arizona native, he moved to Prescott Valley in 2006 and lives in StoneRidge.
Lizza, also a StoneRidge homeowner, said he responded to Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001.
"We have too many developer agreements," Lizza said. He drew some applause when he called for a "common-sense" approach to population growth.
Grossman, the only candidate who is single, mentioned his volunteer involvement, including past presidency of the Prescott Valley Police Foundation and with the construction crew for Prescott Area Habitat for Humanity. A retired letter carrier, he moved to Prescott Valley from New York City in 2009, and regularly attends council meetings.
Marshall, a native of Texas and Iraqi war Army veteran, said he moved to Prescott Valley to pursue a bachelor's degree in aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott. "I want to step up and solve the problems," Marshal said. "Me and my wife (Ashlee) plan to spend the rest of our lives here."
Marshall called for a "permanent solution" to the water supply problem, and said living in Prescott Valley requires jobs that pay about $30 per hour. "We don't need more retail jobs," he said.
Skoog said he is running for re-election to "continue the steady course. We have had millions of dollars (invested) in infrastructure."
He said he has seen the town grow from about 3,500 to 41,000 residents and the completion of a sewer project that replaced septic systems.
Zurcher cited his years of involvement in Prescott Valley since moving here eight years ago. He chairs the government affairs committee of the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Yavapai County Local Workforce Investment Board.
"I am running to make a difference in the community," Zurcher said. "I don't have a personal agenda."
Arps, a resident for 13.5 years who works for Superior Industries, said he was home-schooled through high school.
"I love the town," Arps said. "I believe in limited government. I want to see those principles put together in Prescott Valley. I believe in the founding principles. I am very concerned about the lack of personal responsibility."
Arps and the other candidates fielded three questions from the forum sponsors and four others that audience members submitted, and made closing statements. Thurman said afterward that audience members targeted the questions to specific candidates but he allowed all eight to answer them.
Two audience members expressed divergent views on the candidates.
"I thought for the most part they were well-informed. They were real concerned, and I have four (candidates) who I think will do a great job," said Dan Delano, a retired municipal employee from Adrian, Mich., who moved to Prescott Valley four years ago.
He declined to name the candidates, but homemaker Lisa Montes said she supports Arps and a few others.
"I am looking for someone who is fiscally conservative, someone who is not going to take the government grants," said Montes, a resident for 6.5 years.