Originally Published: August 17, 2018 8:39 p.m.
Prescott Valley’s two mayoral candidates, Michael Whiting and Kell Palguta, touched on a number of community issues in a forum at The Event Spot in Prescott Valley, Tuesday, Aug. 14.
The issues ranged from water and roads to what the two candidates see as the most urgent issue facing Prescott Valley and their visions for the future of the town.
Whiting said the most pressing matter Prescott Valley is facing is the way residents feel about the town’s fiscal responsibility.
“If we’re not, anything we talk about, everything we talk about will not happen,” he said. “We’ll begin to see issues that we can’t control if we weren’t fiscally responsible – have fiscal responsibility.”
On the other hand, Palguta said he believes the most urgent issue is making Prescott Valley a destination spot, so when someone talks about the town, it’s known as where things happen. If it isn’t, Prescott Valley is just a place people drive through on their way to Prescott. The key to doing so, he said, is creating involvement with the community.
The two candidates also talked about water, and what they felt was the most important part of Prescott Valley’s water management plan. Citing the equipment failures as what brought on the recent water restrictions, Whiting said the council determined there would be four new wells and noted the biggest factor in terms of providing water to the community is drilling wells to compensate for the loss of pressure or a well. Water consumption for Prescott Valley is at 2006 levels and there is not a water shortage in the town relative to pumping, he said.
Prescott Valley should do something Prescott does which is to offer citizens incentives, such as giving credits for using low-flow water valves and other methods to conserve water. Doing so means each person is taking a proactive approach to saving water and the town is giving them a reward for taking those steps, he said.
“That brings and creates an ownership with each person in the Town of Prescott Valley,” Palguta said.
As for roads, Palguta said what Prescott Valley is currently doing is not effective and called Florentine Road east of Navajo Drive one of the worst roads in town. At nearly three miles, there are plans to improve only 900 yards while the rest is falling apart and dilapidated, he said. There are currently too many cars on the road and what the town should do is step back, look at its options and see if there’s something better because as the largest municipality in Yavapai County, Prescott Valley needs to act like it and provide those services, Palguta said.
Whiting said Florentine Road is a priority in terms of what the town is planning on doing to upgrade it in terms of areas that need attention.
Referencing their visions for the future of Prescott Valley, Whiting brought up the current plans to pursue a master plan for the Parks and Recreation Department in order to determine what is needed in the community that has not been asked for in 10 years since the last master plan. He also said he plans to continue to use the General Plan as a guide.
“It’s our blueprint in terms of what we plan to do with our vision. This is my vision,” he said. “I spent two years on the Planning and Zoning Commission, developing this document.”
The General Plan needs to change and improve, Palguta said, adding that it’s time to stop talking about 2010 and start talking about the future.
Additionally, Palguta responded to a comment Whiting made, bringing up Palguta’s recommendations relative to amenities such as Mountain Valley Splash. There are 200 people allowed in and on a busy day in the summertime, and Palguta said he sees dozens of people standing outside waiting for two people to leave.
“I think that is outdated because we have not improved that service to Prescott Valley in over 20 years,” he said. “We do need splash pads where a family can go to a park, sit around in the shade, let their children go play for free in the water and have a picnic. If that’s being out of touch with the people, then I don’t know what being in touch with the people is.”
The election is Aug. 28. Also on the ballot in Prescott Valley are three council seats. Visit dCourier.com for more information.
OPPONENTS ASK ONE QUESTION
In the middle of the forum, both candidates had the opportunity to ask their opponent one question. Here are their questions as well as their answers.
Kell Palguta: you’ve been on council for five years, you’ve had the opportunity to have your voice heard, you’ve had the opportunity to implement change. What makes the difference between the day you become mayor to the last five years? Why haven’t we had change in certain things that you want to change now as mayor?
Michael Whiting: I don’t think it’s about me. I think our first focus is always going to be our community and our residents and we depend on their input and as I’ve mentioned we have a cadre of professionals that work for Prescott Valley in terms of our department heads and we depend on them to bring us, I think, issues relative to what needs to be changed. So it’s not something I feel that I can contribute to unless it’s something that’s important to me. We’ve talked about expanding the Boys and Girls Club, we finally have been able to do that. That was something I wanted to do, in fact one of our clubs that I founded here wanted to work with them in order to assist them in terms of some of the goals for their youth. We talked about also bringing a YMCA here and that takes time, but again that depends on the community. It’s not something I as a sole person can do on the council as mayor, but I can facilitate and work with my councilmembers and with our department heads to determine what’s going to be appropriate for our community from year to year. I think again it’s not about me but it’s about our community.
Michael Whiting: We’ve talked about and I often question what do you feel qualifies you for mayor. You’ve looked at my experience: five years on the council, two years on planning on zoning as well as volunteering for various efforts in Prescott and Prescott Valley. What do you feel qualifies you to be mayor?
Kell Palguta: Not only do I have more experience living in Prescott Valley than any current council member, I have more experience working directly for the town. In fact, I’d be the only employee who’s ever worked for the town of Prescott Valley who’s ever actually run for mayor. I’ve worked directly with the town manager, public works, parks and rec for over 20 years. This has given me an opportunity to build those relationships that are necessary to be an effective leader with the town of Prescott Valley.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misquoted Prescott Valley mayoral candidate Michael Whiting in the fourth paragraph. This version contains the correct and full quote.