Don't even try to tell Payson Town Council candidate Rick Croy that a town well has never impacted a neighboring well.
He's experienced it personally.
"When the town came next to my property and drilled a well, my water level was 55 feet above my pump, and today it is five feet above my pump," he said.
Croy had built his house in an area where the town did not provide water service, but then a neighbor sold out to the developers of Stone Creek.
"I had talks with (Public Works Director) Buzz Walker, and his last comment was, ‘What do you want me to do, drill your well deeper for you?' It was just an arrogant response; he wasn't going to do that."
As a result of his experience, Croy says he understands why the people of Diamond Star are concerned about their water supply.
Croy is running for council because he believes it's impossible for an outsider to bring about change in Payson.
"You can go and speak at the council meetings and they listen," he said, "but when you're done they say. ‘Bye, see you later.' You can't get an answer.
"I don't know if they don't know the answer, but there's got to be something going on. You've got to be on the council to change policy here."
When it comes to water, he believes that the town council lets the developer be the bad guy.
"There may be some bad guys out there, but the developer is not necessarily the bad guy," he said. "They've used the developer to create insulation between them and the people who may lose their water.
"My own situation was a classic example. It's, ‘Hey, we're not the bad guys.'"
Croy, who works for Gila County, is also president and director of Payson Regional Housing Development, a nonprofit private company responsible for building Green Valley Apartments and Canal Senior Apartments.
"I'm a working stiff," he said. "I'm not a retired person who doesn't have to relate to all the issues of raising families here."
He believes affordable housing is one of those issues -- and the current council has failed the voters.
"I was reading the 2005 Corporate Strategic Plan, and while several council members ran on a platform of affordable housing, I don't see it anywhere in that plan," he said. "There's 35, 40, 50 things in there and it's not even in there. My question is, ‘What happened, guys?'
"A major issue with any family is the roof over their heads, and if that is affordable, it solves one of their bigger problems."
Other issues Croy promises to address:
- "It's very difficult for builders to communicate with and get cooperation from the town building people," he said. "Surprises are always popping up."
• "We need better paying jobs," he said. "If you're a single mom raising a couple kids, you probably cannot live on what you make at Wal-Mart."
To acquire those jobs, Croy says the town needs to actively recruit new employers.
"I believe those who have come have come on their own," he said. "I have not seen any documentation that any of these people were truly recruited. They knocked on our door first."
- "Tourism is our backbone and probably will be for some time to come," she said. "My problem with Main Street is that there's a lack of involvement by the ownership people."
- Croy thinks town staff is overpaid, and that the recent round of raises granted by the council was unwarranted.
"It has to be fair and equitable, but you also have to be able to afford them," he said. "Just because somebody in that capacity makes $100,000 in Sedona or Cottonwood doesn't necessarily mean we have to pay the current person in Payson $100,000 when our budget says $75,000.
"We have the choice of recruiting somebody who is willing to live in this community for that price.
"When I moved to Payson, I knew the income opportunity was not as great as Tucson, and you accept that as the price of living here. Why are they (the town staff) any different than the working stiff?"
The bottom line, Croy believes, is that the voters and their elected officials are currently out of synch.
"If the people are really telling the existing council the way they feel and the council isn't following their wishes, then I guess the ballots will tell the story," he said. "It's the people's choice.
"Somehow the governing body and the voting public need to be friends again, and I don't think they are right now."