Anthem Community Council candidates’
Marc Buckhout ~ Managing Editor ~ 2/17/2010
The six candidates vying for two spots on the Anthem Community Council board debated some of the issues facing the community Thursday at the Anthem Community Center.
Two candidates vie for the right to represent Country Club highlighted by current Community Council board vice president Donna Gloshen. She’ll be challenged to keep her seat by Jeff Pointer.
The other spot up for grabs will be for the right to represent Parkside. With no incumbent running the spot will go to a newcomer among the quartet of Craig Boates, Gary Reznick, Randy Schmille and Butch See.
During a question and answer session run by Parkside board president John Corey and Country Club board president Bob Track a couple overriding themes became apparent. The five newcomers all made it known that part of the reason they are running is the desire to have a more transparent council, one in which more input would be taken by the board from the public. They also vowed to keep residents more informed. Several questioned whether the ACC is living up to the Arizona Open Meeting Law.
Being that he is running against Gloshen, the incumbent, Pointer pounded what he perceives as a lack of communication the current council has with the community.
“I moved here to Anthem in 2003 and I immediately loved Anthem’s sense of community,” he said. “Over time I’ve seen that erode due to the lack of free flow of information. I don’t like the direction the council has taken recently and feel the board needs to improve the lines of communication with the residents.”
It was a sentiment echoed in many ways.
Boates referenced the animosity between the council and the community caused by, “hasty and uninformed decisions.”
Reznick was also critical of the board’s leadership that has created, “vitriol and disunity” that has led to the, “fragmenting of Anthem.”
See said the board needs to change its perspective.
“We need some checks and balances,” he said. “We need to give the public some power to approve major decisions. I feel the board should be selling their ideas to the public.”
Schmille said he too would like to see a change in mindset.
“I see a lot of potential for our community,” he said. “I’d like to make the council more progressive.”
One idea he proposed was pushing Anthem toward incorporating and becoming a city of its own.
“We need to tap into our resources, which is something we haven’t done,” he said.
Gloshen defended the job she has done in representing the community in her time on the board, saying she talks to plenty of residents and gets a good feel for her constituents’ thoughts on issues.
“We need to get everybody’s opinion, but sometimes there are groups that bring a lot of people to meetings,” she said. “There’s a difference between being loud and rude and necessarily representing a majority.”
Beyond the near consensus view of the need to do a better job representing the community how best to sell Anthem as a destination, how to support the local businesses, and how to maintain the community’s standard of living despite challenging economic times that are creating a crunch on the budget, were discussed.
To those challenges Gloshen said her experience on the board as well as in finance, working on the Council Financial Committee since 2004, will pay dividends to the community.
She said she is strongly in favor of using enhancement funds for the development of a welcome and information center in Anthem as a way to promote the community and its businesses. Gloshen also pointed to her support of the Veterans Memorial as a positive addition to the community.
Her fellow candidates roundly praised the Memorial.
See said he’d be in favor of using enhancement funds to purchase some sort of administrative building at some point, of approximately 5,000 square feet. He also proposes revision of ACC by-laws necessitating an affirmative vote of 51 percent of all ballots received for any capital expenditure exceeding a yet to be determined amount of money excluding contracts for maintenance of existing amenities and the annual budget.
Boates stated that Freedom Way could be stripped down into an informative newsletter rather than its current form. He made clear that it needs to be self supportive and shouldn’t be something that resident dues are used to pay for. Additionally he said it shouldn’t be competing for advertising dollars with other local businesses.
Reznick, who has served on the Parkside Community Association Finance Committee, said the community is faced with some stiff challenges financially.
“We had a really hard time drafting our budget this year and I perceive next year to be more difficult,” he said. “It’s a fine line to maintain our lifestyle without draining our personal assets to do so.”
“We took a lot of the budget to avoid dues increases this last year and the question is what are you willing to do without,” she said. “Nobody wants dues increases. When they are necessary our job is to make them as small and as infrequent as possible.”
Schmille said there are ways to find savings within the budget, citing the fact that he saved Parkside $97,000 a year simply by putting the landscape maintenance contract out for bid again.
Schmille also said he’d propose a pedestrian bridge across Anthem Way, “an architecturally beautiful structure” as part of a beautified corridor to, “get people off the freeway to see what Anthem has to offer.”
He further suggested lighting the bridge to garner people’s attention.
Boates said a concerted effort to bring people and jobs to Anthem will have to be a top priority.
“We’ve got to find creative ways to draw people here,” he said.
Gloshen said that two of the community’s recent hires, CEO Jenna Kollings and COO Neal Shearer, who both started earlier this month, will be tasked with promoting Anthem as a place to be for new business as well as supporting the businesses already in existence.
Ballots for the Council race are to be mailed out this week. The deadline to return them is March 22. For further information on the candidates go to onlineatanthem.com/cdps/cditem.cfm?nid=2.
What were your thoughts on the debate? Which candidate made the strongest impression? What are Anthem’s biggest issues moving forward? Share your thoughts at The Foothills Focus forum at www.thefoothillsfocus.com or e-mail your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.