Meet the candidates: Political hopefuls to address issues impacting Queen Creek

There are eight candidates running to fill three open seats on the Queen Creek Town Council. They are, clockwise from top left, Lanny Brown, Del Caron, Larry Chesley, Jason Gad, Julia Wheatley, Emilena Turley, Kyle Robinson and Dawn Oliphant (Wendy Miller, Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA).

There are eight candidates running to fill three open seats on the Queen Creek Town Council. They are, clockwise from top left, Lanny Brown, Del Caron, Larry Chesley, Jason Gad, Julia Wheatley, Emilena Turley, Kyle Robinson and Dawn Oliphant (Wendy Miller, Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA).

New jobs? Economic growth? Preservation of open spaces? What topics do Queen Creek voters want to ask the candidates running for Queen Creek Town Council?

Residents will have the opportunity to hear what the political hopefuls have to say on issues that impact the town of Queen Creek and the people who live there during a meet the candidates night scheduled for July 30.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room (first floor, southwest end of building) at Communiversity@Queen Creek, 21740 S. Ellsworth Road, next to the Queen Creek Branch Library. It is being presented by the Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent and hosted by Communiversity@Queen Creek. Water is being provided by Mountain View Funeral Homes.

Vehicular access is available along South Ellsworth Road in front of Communiversity during road construction. In addition, drivers can access the campus from South Victoria Lane to the north.

Confirmed to attend are candidates Lanny M. Brown, Jason Gad, Dawn Oliphant, Kyle Robinson, Emilena Turley and Julia Wheatley. Candidates Del Caron and Larry “Lucky” Chesley will be out of town.

Each candidate will have time to present additional information about what unique skill sets or characteristics they possess that make them a viable candidate for the Queen Creek Town Council. Candidates will then individually answer questions prepared by the Independent and the public.

To submit a question to the paper prior to the event, e-mail it to News Editor Wendy Miller at wmiller@newszap.com.

The gathering will take place the day before early ballots for the Aug. 26 primary election will be mailed.

The seats of Mayor Gail Barney and council members Ms. Oliphant, Mr. Gad and Ms. Wheatley will all be voted on. Mayor Barney is running unopposed.

In addition, residents will vote on Proposition 472, the Alternative Expenditure Limitation or “home rule,” according to the town’s website. The vote determines how the town calculates its spending limits for each year.

To help residents determine how to vote, the Independent has asked the candidates to fill out a questionnaire that included questions about their family and their campaign platform. Their responses are printed below.

Register to vote

The deadline to register to vote in the primary election is July 28. To register, visit Service Arizona, pick up a voter registration form at the Queen Creek Municipal Services Building, 22358 S. Ellsworth Road, or request a form from Maricopa County at 602-506-1511 or Pinal County at 520-866-7550.

For more information about voter registration, call the town hall at 480-358-3000.

Candidate responses

Emilena Turley

Age: 42.

How many years have you lived in Queen Creek? Four.

What brought you to Queen Creek? I love the small town feeling. I love the open spaces, horse properties and simplicity of the people. I love that you can wear your cowboy boots and jeans to church.

Family information: Husband — Aaron Turley, married 4.5 years. Children — Michael, 16; Alexys, 15; Sofia, 15 (adopted from Russia); Sariah, 15; Jean-Jacques, 13; Mikayla, 13; Ruslan (adopted from Russia), 13; and Joseph, 12.

Are you employed or retired? I am an independent paralegal and work primarily in the East Valley.

To which clubs and organizations do you belong? I am part of the PTO for my children’s school.

Have you held public office? If so, what and when? I’ve been a precinct committeeman for the last few years. I’ve also served on the LD12 Republican Committee as the recording secretary.

– If elected, what will be your first order of business? Once elected, I will begin working toward the goal of being truly business friendly. I’ve reached out to many different types of small businesses in the community and desire to reduce any and all unnecessary regulation that may seem minor to those who put it in place but in actuality greatly hinders the ability of a small business to prosper. I understand there is a window of opportunity for a business to succeed. We want to allow innovation to occur during those time frames so that our small businesses can get their doors open and keep them open.

– How will this action speak to the overall goals you seek to accomplish while serving on the Queen Creek Town Council? The free market system is what makes America the greatest country on earth. It’s a reflection of the American dream. In fact, 99.7 percent of businesses are small businesses accounting for about 50 percent of total private sector employment. Everyone wins when we have real economic growth, and here in Queen Creek, small businesses will likely play the star role as we work toward reasonable regulations, protecting existing property owners while also providing opportunity for the market to thrive.

– Why is civic involvement so important to you? It takes the involvement of the people to retain our rights. Special interests only play the overwhelming role that they do because the everyday citizen is often underrepresented in government. I want to be a voice for the great citizens of Queen Creek and work to engage with them as we protect their rights leading to greater prosperity and to the benefit of all.

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Dawn Oliphant

Age: 42.

How many years have you lived in Queen Creek? Nine years in November.

What brought you to Queen Creek? My husband and I wanted to build a custom home in a growing community where we could raise our family.

Family information: Husband — Rick Oliphant, married 21 years. Children — Kaden, 11; and Tanner, 9.

Are you employed or retired? I own Greenqcmom.com, a business I work from home as an independent distributor for Shaklee Corp.

To which clubs and organizations do you belong? I serve as a member on the Queen Creek American Legion Women’s Auxiliary, an executive board member on the Desert Mountain Elementary PTO and the co-fundraising chair on Queen Creek Middle School PTO.

Have you held public office? If so, what and when? Yes, I was elected to Queen Creek Town Council in 2010 as a council member and still hold that office.

– If elected, what will be your first order of business? My first order of business will be keeping my commitment to the residents of Queen Creek to ensure that the $25 million in capital improvement projects that were approved by the current council are seen to completion. These completed projects will help attract potential and new business growth. I will continue to be a strong advocate for a balanced and diverse community.

– How will this action speak to the overall goals you seek to accomplish while serving on the Queen Creek Town Council? Over the last several years, the Great Recession has been very challenging to the town’s budget. As budget chair for the last two years, we have balanced the budget without raising taxes or effecting customer service levels. The council and town staff worked extremely smart to ensure that money was “saved” when the town was going through its most difficult time. As we are coming slowly out of the recession I support the decision to invest “our” tax dollars into infrastructure and into diverse community amenities.

– Why is civic involvement so important to you? Inclusion. I have a background in local government that has provided me with the specialized knowledge and leadership experience needed to work collaboratively with town staff, fellow council members, residents and business owners. With a flexible work schedule I will continue to commit to the responsibilities of the position.

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Del Caron

Editor’s note: Mr. Caron did not return a candidate questionnaire by press time. The Independent will post his responses online once they have been received.

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Julia Wheatley

Age: 34.

How many years have you lived in Queen Creek? Seven.

What brought you to Queen Creek? My husband and I were looking for a community to settle our roots and start our family. We were drawn to Queen Creek for its friendliness, open spaces and trails, quiet and starry nights and beautiful views of the San Tan Mountains.

Family information: Husband — Benjamin Wheatley, married eight years. Four children.

Are you employed or retired? Program director and instructor for a private post secondary school.

To which clubs and organizations do you belong? Eagle Forum, the largest pro-family movement, a nationwide organization that supports traditional family values, less government involvement in citizens’ lives, private enterprise and lower taxes.

Have you held public office? If so, what and when? I am serving my first term as a Queen Creek Town Council member from 2010-2014.

– If elected, what will be your first order of business? I’ve talked with many Queen Creek residents, and I’ve heard a vast array of ideas on how to improve our community. My biggest priority is and always has been to voice the concerns of the residents in an effort to enhance our quality of life. Over the next year, it will be exciting to see the positive changes in our community that are currently being implemented by our town council. For instance, Queen Creek will soon be seeing even better roadways, additional desirable businesses, more parks to enjoy and an even safer community. This will all be accomplished by community involvement and my continued leadership on our town council.

– How will this action speak to the overall goals you seek to accomplish while serving on the Queen Creek Town Council? The overall goals of our council must be to protect the quality of life we enjoy while continuing to be being conservative with our tax dollars. When I first started my term on the council, we were in the depths of the Great Recession. As a council we made difficult yet sound decisions that allowed us to overcome our challenges. Even with declining revenues, we balanced our budget without raising taxes. We now have heightened interest in our community over other communities that are suffering from poor decisions made in the past. I would like to continue my efforts by revitalizing and continuing to develop our downtown by attracting quality businesses.

– Why is civic involvement so important to you? I believe in a strong, local government. This is the level of government that’s closest to the residents of the community and where things are done that impacts us all. I want to be involved at this level and protect and improve the quality of life of all who live here.

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Jason Gad

Age: 40.

How many years have you lived in Queen Creek? 10.

What brought you to Queen Creek? I moved my family to Queen Creek in 2004, excited to join a growing, family-friendly community. I recognized Queen Creek as a wonderful place to raise my family because of its excellent A-rated schools, low crime rate, quality housing, beautiful parks and open space and friendly neighborhood feel. I love that Queen Creek is a balance between city conveniences and open country lifestyle.

Family information: Wife — Jamie Ann Gad. Four children, ages 12, 10, 4 and 2.

Are you employed or retired? I work for Intel Corp. in Chandler as a strategic program manager in the Global Supply Chain organization and have been with the company for nine years.

To which clubs and organizations do you belong? I am a member of Beta Gamma Sigma the international, academic honor society for Master-level graduates in business earned at Arizona State University. I am also a member of the American Planning Association that focuses on strategic planning for governments.

Have you held public office? If so, what and when? Yes, I currently serve the people of Queen Creek as a council member and have done so since 2012. Prior to this, from 2010-2012, I served as the chairman of Queen Creek’s Town Center committee and was also a Queen Creek Planning and Zoning commissioner. I am also a former military officer having served in the U.S. Air Force for six years.

– If elected, what will be your first order of business? If returned to office, I will continue serving the people of Queen Creek as I have done for the last two years pushing for completion on several important projects I helped start. Specifically, I will continue to drive for more roadway and intersection infrastructure improvements just as you now see underway in our Town Center. I will make sure the new Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s Community Resource Officer program I funded in 2014 gets started with new deputies patrolling and supporting safety programs in our local schools for our children. I will also ensure we complete the town ordinance and code modernization effort that will re-focus our regulations to be more business and homeowner-friendly; it will be easier to understand, more efficient and will provide more freedoms with less government bureaucracy.

– How will this action speak to the overall goals you seek to accomplish while serving on the Queen Creek Town Council? I believe an elected official’s words must match his or her actions and my initiative leading the projects mentioned above match my voting record while serving on the Queen Creek Town Council and has been consistent with my three, core political values: 1) Government must be limited, honest and transparent; 2) Taxes should remain low and the council must ensure responsible spending of the hard-earned peoples’ money; and 3) Accelerating economic growth and development in Queen Creek is good for our entire community. If the people of Queen Creek return me to office this year, I will continue to champion and lead on these values and goals as we work hard to take Queen Creek into a wonderful future for our whole community.

– Why is civic involvement so important to you? I believe serving our great country is part of every citizen’s duty. I became a military officer to serve and protect our nation. Afterward, I looked for ways to continue serving. People of good heart can serve in churches, charities, education and my passions led me to serve on council.

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Kyle Robinson

Age: 58.

How many years have you lived in Queen Creek? 10.

What brought you to Queen Creek? Close proximity to work and a nice community environment.

Family information: Wife — Elizabeth Robinson, married 34 years. We have three grown children and five grandsons.

Are you employed or retired? I currently am employed with Orbital Sciences in Chandler since 2008. Prior to 2008, I was employed by TRW Automotive Systems in Mesa. I also assist with my wife’s local business, Ted’s Shooting Range, in which she is one of the owners and operators.

To which clubs and organizations do you belong? I currently volunteer as an Eagle Scout specialist for the Boy Scouts of America. I have been a commissioner on the town of Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission since 2010. I am also a member of the Maricopa County Citizens’ Transportation Oversight Committee since 2009.

Have you held public office? If so, what and when? I have not held an elected office.

– If elected, what will be your first order of business? The first order of business will be to make our town more competitive with other communities through a more efficient planning, zoning and permitting process. The permitting process takes too long for residents, businesses and developers. Sign ordinances are too restrictive. The town needs a balance of housing, commercial and employment. The town will not be able to maintain infrastructure and critical services if only housing developments are encouraged and approved. A balance is needed to maintain a healthy community. Directly coupled to our growth process is our need for transportation access in, through and out of Queen Creek. I will promote and encourage expenditures that will benefit the citizens and businesses of Queen Creek and minimize expenditures that are not in the community’s best interest.

– How will this action speak to the overall goals you seek to accomplish while serving on the Queen Creek Town Council? Promoting a balanced community will ensure financial resources are available to pay for the critical infrastructure and resources needed by the town of Queen Creek. A healthy community requires water, sewer, power, housing, police/fire protection, transportation and recreation. Streamlining our growth process will encourage businesses and housing. Spreading commercial areas throughout the town minimizes crosstown traffic. Businesses provide needed tax revenue to pay for town services. Higher density housing near commercial areas provide needed customers to sustain our businesses. Access in and out of town brings outside revenue that doesn’t require services in return. Every aspect of our town is essential to the success of another.

– Why is civic involvement so important to you? Serving others and providing assistance that promotes self-sufficiency are the basis for the success of our society. Many parts of the world are currently demonstrating the results of unwillingness to help, live and work with others who don’t necessarily look, believe or act like themselves.

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Lanny M. Brown

Age: 46.

How many years have you lived in Queen Creek? Five.

What brought you to Queen Creek? Family and lifestyle decision.

Family information: Wife — Jeana Brown, married six years. Children: Lauren, 23; Zoe, 22; Josh, 14: Tatum, 11; Kaitlyn, 11; Chloe, 10; Brody, 7; and Paizlee, 4.

Are you employed or retired? Director of Epi/Silicon Sourcing and Foundry Procurement, IR Corp.

To which clubs and organizations, if any, do you belong? Member, Utah Bar Association.

Have you held public office? If so, what and when? No.

– If elected, what will be your first order of business? Two key things I will do the first 30 days:

1) Physically walk through the key processes that those using the town services must go through. Specifically: act as a builder of a home. Walk through each step, form, process and fee required to build a home. Don’t sit at a desk; walk through the process. Open a new business. Again, walk through each step, form, process and fee required to open a business. See the challenges.

2) Understand from town manager what is in place to motivate town staff for cost savings, asset utilization and efficiency of services provided.

How will this action speak to the overall goals you seek to accomplish while serving on the Queen Creek Town Council? Each of the above two goals rolls into my key objectives below:

– Business: Operate town like a business — recognize its shareholders are its citizens.

– Performance: Incentivize town staff to increase level of service and decrease funds required for such services — like a business.

– Privatization: If private sector can do it, let the private sector perform the service.

– Asset utilization: Maximize municipal assets. Find revenue streams and efficiencies through significant town assets.

– Surplus town revenue: Return surplus town revenue back to taxpayers and utility users. Don’t find new areas to spend.

– Humility: If I don’t know, then go to business community for counsel. Do not go to government employees, lobbyists or suppliers to government for counsel.

– Efficiency: No cost savings is too small to matter.

– Why is civic involvement so important to you? Efficient and cost-effective government means a better community. We need not copy other municipalities. Do what a business would do, not what a bureaucracy would do. Separation: Keep government out of business and lives except where required by the Constitution, its principles and to further freedom.

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Larry “Lucky” Chesley

Age: 75.

How many years have you lived in Queen Creek? Eight.

What brought you to Queen Creek? We moved from Gilbert to downsize.

Family information: Wife — Judy Chesley, married 33 years. Nine children, 29 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren.

Are you employed or retired? I retired from the U.S. Air Force after 22 years on Jan. 1, 1982, re-retired June 2004 from working for Arizona state government.

To which clubs and organizations do you belong? I have belonged to or currently belong to Rotary Club of Mesa; Kirtland Kiwanis Club (Kirtland, Ohio); East Valley Addiction Council; Arizona Constitutional Commemoration Committee; United Way organizations of Phoenix, Mesa and Chandler; Nam-POW, life member; Veterans of Foreign Wars, life member and first commander of the Gilbert post; Military Order of the Purple Heart, life member; Disabled American Veterans, life member; American Legion, member.

Have you held public office? If so, what and when? Gilbert School Board, 1986. Served in the Arizona State Senate, 1973-77; where I was named No. 1 friend of the Taxpayers three of the four years I served (number two the other year); and served on the following: government committee chairman; Senate Appropriations Sub-committee over universities and judicial, chairman; Senate Appropriations Committee, vice chairman; Senate Finance Committee, chairman; Senate Judicial Committee member; and Senate Natural Resources Committee member.

– If elected, what will be your first order of business? My first order of business is to study and learn in more detail what issues are facing our growing population. Unlike others I do not claim to be able to do anything by myself. It is going to take three other people to agree before we can pass any policies.

– How will this action speak to the overall goals you seek to accomplish while serving on the Queen Creek Town Council? I believe one of the most pressing issues to our growing community is to get business to come to serve us. We need a grocery store. We need a place for people to stay when they come from out of town and many other types of commerce.

– Why is civic involvement so important to you? I have made service a lifetime pursuit. I have served on dozens of boards and commissions in my life, and it has given me the opportunity to learn how to work with others and make good public policy decisions.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123. Be sure to like us on Facebook.

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