Six candidates vie for QC town council - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Six candidates vie for QC town council

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Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010 12:59 pm

Queen Creek voters will replace half the City Council in May 18's election, but residents likely won't see any major shift despite all the new faces.

The six candidates don't offer any major initiatives or change in direction for the town.

They agree the town should keep its rural character, grow its economy and minimize the pain of budget cuts as the city continues to suffer from a development slump.

And they say the town has few options to roll out new projects or services as it continues to trim expenses.

The candidates' backgrounds offer the biggest difference that voters might consider as they replace three council members who declined to seek re-election.

Five of the candidates have lived in Queen Creek 6 years or less. Former Councilwoman Toni Valenzuela is the only native - and at 64 is about twice the age of the other office-seekers.

Here's a look at the candidates:

John Alston said he offers strong analytical skills from his work at an attorney. He said he strives to be approachable so residents will know they can bring concerns to him.

Alston has offered criticism of some recent spending, including a new traffic signal on Ellsworth Road and improvements to the Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Center.

"I think it's a good idea but I don't think it's the right time," Alston said.

Chris Clark wants to bring tourism money to Queen Creek by expanding and holding more regional events like Monsoon Madness. He is chairman of the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce and the Boys & Girls Club. He's been involved with emergency response, transportation and neighborhood efforts.

Clark sees the Town Council as an extension of his activism.

"Working on these events and activities is exactly what I've been doing since I've been in Queen Creek," Clark said.

Daniel Hall has said he'd offer common sense to a town that he believes is going in the wrong direction. He did not respond to calls for this story, but previously has said Queen Creek collects enough money but spends too much and on the wrong things. He offered to donate his council salary to the town for his first year in office.

Hall said he opposes cuts that would trigger job losses. He is on the board of directors of his homeowners' association.

Dawn Oliphant is touting her government experience as an employee with the city of Tempe. She wants the town to boost businesses by doing more to promote them and work with them in sponsorships. Events like the farmer's market should have closer ties to the town, she said.

"I have 18 years in local government," Oliphant said. "I know how a city runs. I know what a budget looks like."

Valenzuela said she'd would have a strong foundation as an elected official with 14 years on the council previously and time on the Planning and Zoning Commission. She opposed the decision to begin town-provided trash collection given the economy but said she otherwise is satisfied with town affairs.

"I know how we got here and which direction we want to go and I've been here all my life," Valenzuela said. "I don't think I'm done helping the town. I still think I have a lot to offer with my experience and dedication."

Julie Wheatley said she offers fiscally conservative philosophy to voters and, as a stay-at-home mom, is the only candidate who could do the job full-time. She said she's already met with council members, staff officials and attended council meetings to get up to speed on issues.

Wheatley said the town is well-run, but offered the sharpest criticism of the candidates. She would have opposed the upcoming town-wide trash collection and recent improvements to the equestrian center.

"Granted they're both important things, but given our present-day crisis, it's not at the forefront of what our taxpaying dollars should go toward," Wheatley said.

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