Candidates debate Clarkdale’s future

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It was a calm and easygoing debate on July 23. Four candidates for two Clarkdale Town Council seats met along with moderator Gail Digate for a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters Greater Verde Valley.

The two incumbents, Benjamin Kramer and Bill Regner, both emphasized their experience, and suggested that those who know the city government would be the best stewards in the coming years. Challengers Bob Ingulli and Eileen Sydow heralded their own life experience.

“Among the many reasons to retain me is that with the significant number of staff transitions taking place recently and in the near future, that continuity and stability on your council is the choice that makes the most sense for Clarkdale,” Regner said in his opening statement. He touted his eight years on the council and two years before that on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“We have a strong team now and I think it’s important that we have consistency through our upcoming transitions,” said Kramer, who has served as a firefighter and EMT in Clarkdale and was appointed to the council in September.

Inguli touted his experience in the New York Police Department as well as serving as police chief in towns in Arizona before retiring to Clarkdale in 2014.

Inguli said he suffers a minor speech impediment due to surviving cancer twice, referring to his condition as an asset, saying it was “God reminding me to speak less, and listen more. That’s what I try and do.”

Sydow is a recent transplant to Clarkdale after spending most of her life in Wisconsin and Wyoming. She spoke of her experience working to help the community and her hope to continue. She is a registered nurse who has worked in soup kitchens and volunteers for the Old Town Mission in Cottonwood.

“We need more community involvement of the residents in town council meetings,” Sydow said, adding many residents of the town were unaware of the actions of the council and government, and hoped that community engagement could benefit everyone.

All spoke of the Verde River’s economic benefit.

“We should focus on the river access and the tourism that it brings in here and the entertainment,” Inguli said.

The candidates spoke as well about the need to conserve water in developing Clarkdale, using it as an engine for growth, but not so much as to lose track of conservation of water as a natural resource.

“I think that the Verde River is critical to Clarkdale’s economic future,” Sydow said. She lamented that numerous rivers throughout Arizona have gone dry through overuse.

Regner called water the most important issue in Clarkdale’s future, touting the town’s decision to buy the water company. Although the town’s water comes from wells, not the river, Regner highlighted the importance of conservation.

Regner said shared use multifamily buildings would cut down on water use and lead to affordable housing.

“There are areas within our central business district which would be ideal for a higher density multifamily pedestrianoriented kind of housing,” Regner said.

“We need more supply in our housing but we need to be able to do it with low water use kind of housing and that’s where multifamily housing becomes one of the answers.”

Regner’s idea for a multifamily district that would save water and be more pedestrian accessible was shared by Kramer, who viewed the ability to get more out of space as a key to economic development.

“As we move towards more energy and water efficiency with some of that tighter housing, we get those people who are willing to share space because when they share that space they also are enjoying a shared atmosphere,” said Kramer.

“I think the most important thing that we need to do is be willing to rethink what this town can be,” Kramer said.

“We want to create the 21st-century version of the master planned community where people walked around town and did a lot of their commerce in town, a lot of their recreation in town.”

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