Mayoral, Council Candidates Answer Some Final Questions

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On May 21, voters will elect Ken Murphy or Jim White mayor, and will seat either Robert Henley or Kenny Knapp on the town council.

The Roundup asked the four candidates to answer a set of issue-oriented questions. Here are their responses.

1. What is your reaction to the recently released Groundwater Management 2002 Status Report?

Ken Murphy

"The groundwater report contains some good news based on many assumptions. I simply believe that there is a limited amount of water under Payson and that the Town's Corporate Strategic Plan uses the Safe Yield figures of 1800 acre-feet of water for growth planning purposes. I am concerned that within the next few years we will take more water out of the ground than is recharging from precipitation. The only true solution is to secure a water source outside of Payson within the forest. This will take a lot of work and coordination with the forest, the county and all other relevant agencies."

Jim White

"I think the report was excellent for informational purposes. However, that does not mean the town shouldn't continue to look for new water sources, work with Bureau of Reclamation and SRP to assure a continued water supply. We should also have a year-round conservation program for the large water users."

Robert Henley

"I think it is an excellent idea that the town is drafting a drought emergency plan. This is very appropriate and I have lived under such plans in Colorado. Hopefully this plan will be implemented prior to our peak water usage this summer.

"The drop in per capita consumption to approximately 95 gpcd from 98 gpcd is encouraging. But we have experienced drops in the water levels in the majority of our wells. We must continue a multi-faceted approach to finding new long-term sources of water for our community. To accomplish this, we must develop better working relationships with those entities that have water such as the U.S. Forest Service, Salt River Project and the Tonto Apache Tribe.

"The Bureau of Reclamation partnership, which includes Gila County and other private water providers holds promise, but that study will take some time. We also must ensure we elect a U.S. congressperson for our new district who will champion our position in Washington."

Kenny Knapp

"Southwest Groundwater Consultants was not in Payson to re-do its 1998 report as the Roundup article would have readers believe. The 'updated' information was, in fact, done by town employees, according to Southwest Groundwater Consultants itself."

2. Where do you stand on the following issues:

Moving public comments to the end of town council meetings.

Ken Murphy

"The town hall was built by the people's money. I believe that the public should have the right to address the council on non-agenda items at the beginning of the meeting. It has been that way since we became a town in 1973 and I see no reason to change it now, other than to limit the airing of comments that some council members don't want to hear."

Jim White

"This is a non-issue. I believe there is a need for public input. Whether at the beginning or end is not the point. As mayor, I will poll the new council to get their input and feelings on the subject. However, I will continue Saturday morning meetings for those who cannot come to council meetings."

Robert Henley

"I believe public comments should be at the beginning of town council meetings. I do not think there were any real problems in the past. I would support an effort to move public comments to the original position in the council agenda."

Kenny Knapp

"I feel strongly that the public comments should be moved back to the beginning of the meetings. The public deserves this respect. Town officials always have had the right to control public comments with time restraints."

Allowing the mayor to ban applause at council meetings and have offenders escorted out of meetings by police.

Ken Murphy

"The mayor must control and maintain proper decorum at the meeting. There are times when the public appropriately exhibits their feelings about a topic under debate. I see no problem with that. I do not like booing or insulting comments everyone should have the right to speak without that kind of attack. It is simply a matter of the mayor using good judgment while running the meeting to decide what is or is not appropriate."

Jim White

"The mayor and council are organized under Roberts Rules of Order. Applause is not banned unless it is excessive and disrupts the meeting."

Robert Henley

"There has always been light applause during the proclamations portion of the agenda. Applause is a method to show support of the points presented by the citizen who is speaking at the citizen's podium. I attended the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board meeting regarding the skateboard park. Polite applause was a very effective way for the audience to show support of the speakers at the podium. It was not disruptive and it did not get out of hand at any time. Therefore I feel polite applause should not be banned at council meetings."

Kenny Knapp

"Applause should be allowed and would be welcome many times, but disruptive behavior like catcalling and booing should be prohibited under threat of removal from the room."

Recreational facilities for young people.

Ken Murphy

"I think the town could always do more in regards to recreation. However, there is never enough money to do everything that the citizens want. I have heard loud and clear that the council must do a better job deciding how to spend money based on what is a want and what is a need. I will hold several town meetings within the first months of my tenure as mayor to obtain as much public input as possible to plan for the next year's budget in advance. I want broad-based, multigenerational ideas on where the citizens want their money spent."

Jim White

"How much is enough? The problem as I see it is coordination of youth programs so everyone knows what services are being provided and by whom."

Robert Henley

"I believe we need to look at the mix of recreational opportunities available for our youth. The feedback I have gotten during campaign is that we need to make non-sports recreational opportunities available. Programs mentioned include the arts such as dance, photography, painting, drawing and computer-graphic art. A survey to determine the needs would be helpful before initiating additional programs. We need a place to hold such programs, but with some creative thinking we can find a way to do this."

Kenny Knapp

"We need to re-do the outside basketball courts, which were removed to make room for the skateboard park. We need an open gym monitored by volunteer police and parents."

3. Why should people vote for you instead of your opponent?

Ken Murphy

"I love Payson. It has been my home for a long time. I have so many strong and caring supporters who believe I have the best interests of the public in mind. I can do nothing without the hard work and dedication of other council members, other governmental leaders, and broad-based support from all groups in town. The mayor is only one vote out of seven. The council is a governing board that sets policy and the town manager is the executive who implements those policies. The council is prohibited by law from directing staff and should not directly do so anyway. We must work through the manager.

"I also believe that I can build coalitions within the town and with other governments to solve the problems that Payson faces in the future. The relationships I have already developed over the years are important to the success of this office. The bottom line is that "we" must do this together because "I" can't do it alone. There is no I in TEAM.

Jim White

"I have the credentials, qualifications and desire to serve the citizens of Payson. My positions on the issues are clear, and I intend to devote full time serving as your mayor."

Robert Henley

"During the entire campaign I have focused on reducing the divisiveness in our community and the need to involve all the citizens and businesses in the process of developing solutions to meet our challenges of water, business development, fiscally conservative budget management, street and drainage improvements, and protecting our quality of life here in Payson. I believe I can be very effective working with the other members of the council in a collaborative way to reach decisions that are the best for the citizens and businesses of our town."

Kenny Knapp

"Because I do not represent any special interests other than homeowners not the airport, the pilots, the developers, or any segment of the business community. I have become increasingly concerned about the way the citizens' water and money are being spent. Our streets and infrastructure have been neglected and our water supply has been taken down to dangerous levels. I stand for taking care of Payson's own first with growth coming second."

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