PV Town Council hears from 14 applicants for vacant seat
Finalists selected for Sept. 5 interviews
Town Clerk Diane Russell announced Friday the finalists are, in no particular order:
• Brenda Dickinson
• Lori Hunt
• Mary Williams
Fourteen Prescott Valley residents submitted their applications for the vacant seat on the Prescott Valley Town Council. They each had their five minutes of fame Thursday, Aug. 15, to tell the sitting council what they “bring to the table” and why they are the best candidate for the position.
Before adjourning the meeting, Mayor Kell Palguta thanked the applicants and encouraged those who wouldn’t make the cut to become involved in the election of 2020. “You may be picked by 50,000 people in our community,” he said.
Town Clerk Diane Russell had each applicant pick a number out of a hat, and they came up in numerical order to speak for five minutes. The audience applauded after each person’s turn at the podium. Two applicants, Andrew Reinhardt and Charles Ables, had withdrawn their names from consideration.
Dickinson, a 25-year resident, has worked in aviation beginning in 1994 in Tucson, and was working as an air traffic controler on 9/11, she said. She has volunteered to register people to vote and as a precinct captain. “I love the way this community comes together,” she said, reciting the Girl Scout Promise and Law in closing.
Lorraine Ratcliffe, a 10-year resident, spoke of being a “boots on the ground” person. Born and raised in Detroit, she has traveled widely, and said she believes in marriage. She has met many people living here and as a minister. “That’s what I do all day long, walk around and meet and greet the people of Prescott Valley,” she said.
Bill Williams moved to Prescott Valley in 2008, and said he has been visiting the area since he was a Boy Scout in the 1960s. He holds a master’s degree in Communications and Journalism from Arizona State University. He was a regional spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation on several projects, interacting with many jurisdictions and organizations. Williams, a freelancer, has written several local articles, including two on water issues.
Terry Dickinson, a 5-year resident, has 35 years’ experience in wastewater sanitation in Los Angeles. He said he understands governmental processes such as capital projects, payroll, cost analyses and making decisions about the quality of life of the community.
Linda Mast began by praising former council member Mary Mallory, whose vacant seat was open. A resident for one year and three months, Mast is a graduate of the Citizens Academy and attends community and council meetings. She was a captain in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps with 20 years of nursing and executive experience, and described herself as positive, upbeat and easy to work with. A former professor, she said, “I will always do my homework.”
Bill Suksi has been a resident for 35 years and first started volunteering at 18 years of age. Growing up in Prescott Valley “gives me perspective on the wants and needs of the town.” He started his own business, learning negotiation, compromise, budgeting and being a team player.
Jamie Goeringer, a 21-year resident, is a small business owner and active with the Chamber of Commerce. She has raised money for the Yavapai Advocacy Center and launched the Roundtable for Business Women. She values collaboration, stating, “It is important to link arms with others.” She calls herself a visionary and enjoys building people up. “This town is worth fighting for,” she said.
Williams has lived here for 5.5 years during the past nine years, and owns Prescott Fine Properties and Williams Accounting and Tax Service. She stated her strong belief in economic development and support for local law enforcement, and mentioned the town’s move from an 11-year to a 5-year road plan. She suggested a four-way stop at Robert Road and Long Mesa Drive for safer left turns. She ended with, “I am impressed with the professionalism of council and staff.”
Hunt, a resident for one year and five months, has 30 years’ experience in government as community development director, planner and city manager in several California locations. She currently sits on the town’s Arts and Culture Committee, is a board member with the Humboldt Education Foundation, and a member of the Chamber of Commerce. She calls herself a consensus builder, and having recently bought a camper, “I am now into glamping.”
Anastasia Van Gelder, who hails from several large cities in Texas, said Prescott Valley is the smallest town she has lived in. Formerly in the medical field, she is now pursuing a degree in business operations. She and her partner, a disabled U.S. Army combat veteran, are raising their children together. “I am very familiar with the VA,” she said.
Ramona Ogburn comes from eight generations of military service. A 13-month resident, she has lived on three continents, which exposed her to different cultures. “I have truly found my forever home,” she said about Prescott Valley. She has worked as a contract negotiator for the California Dept. of Corrections, and worked on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in Washington, DC, as a special education consultant.
Christopher Behrens calls himself a product of Prescott Valley. “I was educated here. I’ve had children here. I’ve worked here.” He remembers the good and the bad — even when Patrick Swayze crashed his airplane nearby. He believes the town needs to be “responsible and balanced.” He said, “I want to help kids find work here. It’s not easy.”
Based on a review of the application materials and the presentations, council selected their top three or four choices and submitted them to the clerk following the meeting.
Palguta said picking the strongest applicants would be a challenge. “Nerves played a big role in this for some,” he said after the meeting. “I encourage them to get out there. This should be the start, not the end.”
Russell said the final three will be called back for an interview for the Sept. 5 council meeting.