Chino Valley voters get a choice for mayor
June 1 is filing deadline for the town’s August election
Robert McCaullay said he had no intention of running for mayor of Chino Valley. He and his wife, former Town Councilmember Pat McKee, were busy enjoying retirement, traveling the country. They did keep up on the local news, including a Chino Valley Review story in early May on the town’s upcoming election.
“We were in Pennsylvania … I went online, and when I read that, I found no one else had filed to run for mayor,” McCaullay said. “I was sure hoping somebody would. I decided to go ahead and run to at least give the people an option.”
The filing deadline to be on the ballot for the August 30 election is at 5 p.m. today, Wednesday, June 1. All seven seats on the Chino Valley Town Council are open. Six of the seven current incumbents are running. McCaullay said he had the minimum number of signatures required to be on the ballot. He said he planned to continue to collect signatures over the weekend to ensure he would be on the ballot. Candidates need 81 verified signatures.
In addition to the mayor’s race, there could be a contested election for the three available two-year terms on the council. Five candidates, Mike Best, Alex Harris, Corey Mendoza, Lillian Morales, and Lon Turner, have indicated they are vying for those seats.
Only three candidates announced they would contend for the three four-year term seats. So unless there is a late entry, or a strong write-in campaign, Susan Cuka, Annie Lane and Jack Miller should be elected if they file by today.
McCaullay said he decided to run for mayor when he saw that only current Vice-Mayor Darryl Croft was running for that seat.
“The last time we had a mayoral race here, it was … just [current Mayor] Chris [Marley] running,” McCaullay said. “In my mind, Darryl’s a nice guy, I like Darryl, but he’s an extension of Marley. If you like what Marley’s done over the last six years or so, then Darryl will continue it.”
Marley did not close the door on him entering the race late after last week’s council meeting. He said that he has all the paperwork ready if he changes his mind, but he was leaning toward not running.
“If it looks like I’m really needed, then I’ll put my papers back in,” Marley said. “I’ve got everything ready to go, but if I’m not needed, I’d much rather be in the ministry.”
Marley was a full-time Baptist pastor for most of his life before moving to Chino Valley. He continues to serve his ministry.
“My campaign is going to be focused on myself and what I can offer the town,” Croft said.
McCaullay is a veteran, having served in the Army. Croft is also a veteran, having served in the Navy.
McCaullay was a member of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission when he and another commissioner were removed by the Town Council on Sept. 9, 2014. Marley said at the time his removal was over a conflict of interest over the Windmill House. Both McCaullay and fellow commissioner Michael Edmonds lived near that property while serving on the commission. The Windmill House was before the commission often as residents were concerned over its expansion plans. Edmonds had actually resigned because he was moving a few days prior to the council’s vote to remove him, but the council had not been informed.
The County Attorney’s Office said on Nov. 3, 2014 that neither McCaullay nor Edmonds profited in any manner from their role as commissioners, according to Marley’s May 2015 statement before council. Marley then issued an apology to McCaullay, specifically over the town’s failure to give him 24-hour notice prior to his removal.
McCaullay said his main issues are the lack of discussion that now takes place on the council, the large amount of debt the current council has taken on, and the poor condition of roads.
He said his decision to run had nothing to do with his removal from Planning and Zoning in 2014.
“If it would have been sour grapes, I would have had my packet pulled back on the first day that I could have pulled it,” McCaullay said. “I really had no intention to run, I’m not a politician. I’m a retiree. I enjoy going places and doing things. But I also know that the people of the town here, need to be represented.”