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Mon, Oct. 21

Chino Valley gears up for an unusual 2016 election
All seven council seats up for grabs next year

Chino Valley Town Council member Jack Miller serves food to residents on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at the Senior Center. (Ken Sain/Review)

Chino Valley Town Council member Jack Miller serves food to residents on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at the Senior Center. (Ken Sain/Review)

In about 11 months Chino Valley residents will face an election unlike any since the town's earliest days. All seven seats on the town council will be up for reelection.

"It's unusual, but it does happen in other communities," Town Manager Robert Smith said.

The council usually has staggered elections, with three seats up for reelection every two years. That way, there is continuity built into the system. Because of the resignations over the summer of three council members, all three of their appointed replacements must face voters in 2016.

Therefore, all six council seats and the mayor's office will be up for grabs in November, 2016.

"Although this is the first time since the town's incorporation that all seven council positions have become available, it isn't the first time that the town has come to a political crossroads," Mayor Chris Marley wrote in an email. "Because Chino has four seats up for election every two years, there has always been a potential for a complete shift in council leadership every election cycle.

"Unfortunately, a change in leadership every two years usually results in a political gridlock due to the lack of continuity. The good news is that our present council has managed to accomplish a number of positive things for the town, and we hope to have our water and sewer enterprises both in the black and no longer draining the town's general fund in the near future. This has been a long struggle, but we are finally making some progress."

Marley, Vice-Mayor Darryl Croft, and council members Susan Cuka and Jack Miller all said they have not made a final decision if they will seek reelection. Cuka, however, seemed like she was leaning that way.

"The town devotes so much time to getting council members up to ... where they can make these decisions, I just feel it's unfair to them to have this revolving door," Cuka said.

Council members Mike Best, Lon Turner and Corey Mendoza did not respond to emails asking if they've made a decision to run for reelection or not.

Mendoza, Cuka and Miller are the appointed members of council and their current seats are for the next two years. The seats held by Marley, Croft, Best and Turner will be for the next four years. Candidates will have to declare when they file if they are running for a two-year, or four-year seat.

Anyone interested in running will not be able to file until May 2, Lewis said. As town clerk, it's her job to administer the election. The filing deadline is June 1.

Miller said he likes the current makeup of the council and would be interested in continuing to serve if most of them seek to return.

To run for a council seat, candidates would need to collect at least 81 verified signatures of Chino Valley residents (no more than 161) to be on the ballot, Lewis said.

The mayor is elected by voters. He or she then nominates the vice mayor, who then must be approved by council.

In addition to electing a council, voters are also scheduled to elect three members to the Chino Valley Fire District board, Chief Scott Freitag said.

CVFD recently entered into a joint operating agreement with the Central Yavapai Fire District to save costs. Still, they remain separate bodies and both have their own governing board.

Voters will also be electing a new president, U.S. senator (John McCain's seat) and members of Congress and the state legislature. One possible referendum expected on the ballot asks voters to legalize marijuana for adult use.

The presidential preference election is scheduled for March 22, 2016. Primary elections are planned for Aug. 8 and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 8.

There is likely to be a ballot measure from the town also on the ballot, Chino Valley Town Clerk Jami Lewis said. Town council will have to vote to place it before voters. It's the alternate expenditure limitation, or home rule option measure.

It must be renewed by voters every four years. The last time Chino Valley residents approved it was March 12, 2013. The measure gives the town council control over local revenue. If voters reject it, then the town's budget will be determined by the formulas mandated in the state's constitution.

"I am very pleased with our present council as it stands, and hope we can continue to serve Chino Valley in the future," Marley said.

Follow Ken Sain on Twitter @ksainjr. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2021, or 928-420-5341 or email him at

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