Originally Published: May 17, 2011 9:59 p.m.
CHINO VALLEY - Citizens here will have a new mayor in Chris Marley who, being a pastor, is already adding prayer to his approach to the job.
"We have been entrusted with a stewardship and I pray we will serve the people well. That covers the whole council," Marley said Tuesday night after hearing the unofficial election results for mayor and two remaining town council positions.
And, by a wide margin, citizens also showed they support the current zoning for the proposed Kampgrounds of America RV park by approving Proposition 401 with 1,814 "yes" votes to 802 "no" votes.
Marley received 1,573 of the mayoral votes for 56.5 percent of the 2,876 votes. Jim Bunker, the incumbent candidate, got 1,198 votes. Bunker was not available for comment Tuesday night.
The total ballots cast also included 13 write-in votes. Another 67 ballots will arrive from a drop-off ballot box at Chino Valley Town Hall, which Town Clerk Jami Lewis doesn't believe will change the outcome of the election.
Mike Best and Darryl Croft won council seats with 1,432 and 1,354 votes respectively. Candidate Charlotte "Charlie" Marriott got 1,092 votes, while Candidate James Conn received 902 votes.
Candidate Lon Turner was the only candidate to win in the primary election this past March with at least 50 percent of the votes plus one vote. Candidate Donna Williams was eliminated in the primary.
The election was conducted by mail-in ballots. Winners will take their oath of office at the June 14 town council meeting and will preside over that meeting. And an ordinance regarding the KOA zoning will go into effect when the council votes on it next Tuesday.
Prop. 401 will keep the Commercial Heavy zoning for the KOA rather than having it revert back to the property's prior zoning of Commercial Light, which opponents say would have been better for the surrounding residences. Their goal was to give voters the right to decide.
Citizens formed political action committees for and against Prop. 401 - "Protect Our Rural Lifestyle" was against the proposed KOA's current zoning, and "Chino First" was for it.
Chino First chair Susan Tobey jumped for joy after hearing the unofficial results Tuesday night at the Windmill House restaurant in Chino Valley, hugging her fellow members.
"It's a giant step forward in Chino's economic development," Tobey said. "We're on the right path for smart growth for Chino Valley. We're thrilled that all of our hard work paid off. We thank the voters."
PORL President Jim Olsen, who hosted an election party Tuesday night at his home, wished the KOA owner success.
"It wasn't the outcome; it was the process. We're disappointed in the outcome, but we wish the best for the KOA and its success and thereby the town's success," Olsen said. The process of getting the proposition on the ballot and campaigning for it brought the neighborhood together, Olsen added.
"All these people (pointing to the group at the party) live within a five-mile radius and didn't know each other, and now we're all friends," Olsen said.
Treasurer Candy Blakeslee said the group met at least one of its goals.
"Our goal was to have the people vote (on the KOA zoning) and accept whatever their decision is," Blakeslee said. "No matter the outcome, we're winners."
Current council members whose terms end in June are Vice Mayor Ron Romley and council members Joel Baker and Gloria Moore.
Best said he thanks the citizens who supported him.
"I will maintain an open door as I have in the campaign," Best said.
Croft said he's looking forward to being a council member.
"I'm excited. It's a great group of people to work with and I'm looking forward to getting some things done," Croft said.