"I think I offer a broad middle ground where people can meet to solve the issues that face Camp Verde."
So says council candidate Robert Foreman, one of five candidates running for three seats in the March 13 municipal primary.
Foreman promises voters an arena where people can meet to create "viable solutions that the vast majority can agree on."
A visible presence at council meetings, the Camp Verde business owner believes, if elected, he will add a supportive element to the mix.
"I think what I offer the council is a broad area for the different perceived factions to meet. I don’t think I’m seen as being a member of any particular group or faction," he said.
Foreman’s platform is straightforward: "To maintain the rural lifestyle for those who want to have it, for I enjoy it myself, but to create a climate for encouraged economic growth. The town needs to increase its tax base. Residential developments cost the taxpayer and the town money. It needs to be balanced with commercial development to increase the tax base, provide revenue, amenities and services the citizens have expressed a desire to have. I really think I can do some good," he said.
A realist, he adds, "I’m not naïve enough to believe I can change everything overnight."
The first-time candidate has two major areas of concern — the water issue and the management of economic development.
"We can’t afford to lose the Verde River," he said in reference to Prescott’s desire to pump water from the Big Chino Basin, believed by many to be the headwaters of the Verde. He doesn’t believe Camp Verde can protect its primary river without the strong help of others. He doesn’t think Camp Verde alone has "the political muscle" to do so.
Solving the water problems, he said, will take the concerted work of many.
"Water has to be a regional effort, and we have to work with the Prescott AMA. I’m adamantly opposed to pumping from the Big Chino at this point even though they want to pump. The studies must be completed. There’s another three years of studies needed."
The owner of Zellner’s Lawn and Garden, Foreman said "assisting existing businesses and bringing in new businesses for quality jobs" are his top economic development goals.
He explained that, "Every study shows most economic development comes from existing businesses."
Like many in Camp Verde, Foreman believes the council should pay attention to the preservation of historic elements lying within the town.
"My family has a very long history in Arizona. I’ve always loved history. If you don’t know where you cane from, you won’t know where you are going."
Asked if the recent actions against the Yavapai-Apache Nation will alienate the town from the Nation, he said, "I believe it has the potential to do that."
The two-year dispute over the Nation’s mining operation on residential property can be resolved, he believes, but it’s going to take "communication," he says, and lots of it.
"The Nation is an integral part of this community, and we need to work with them and not against them."
Foreman went on to say that if he could accomplish one thing during his term in office, it would be to "have the community and the Nation come together and propel some economic development."
Foreman doesn’t appear surprised that the town’s needs could exceed its revenues, as some are predicting. Opposed to more taxes, he said he would look instead to other venues to raise money for large capital expenditures such as a new regional park or the purchase of the town’s utility companies.
"Wants will always be greater than revenue; that’s human nature. I’m opposed to any increase in sales tax or any local property tax. Reasonable impact fees are probably going to be necessary, but increasing the tax base is the ultimate solution."
Foreman, like many others, is worried about the impact of the new Arizona 260 Bypass circumventing the business district. The state highway improvement is scheduled to begin late fall or early next year.
"It could hurt the downtown. A healthy downtown is important for all, not just the businesses there.
"I believe it’s very important to revitalize, enhance and bring help to the downtown area, to the entire community."
Education: Prescott High School and Prescott College
Years in the Verde Valley: Nine; lifelong Arizonan
Occupation: Small business owner in Camp Verde — Zellner’s Lawn and Garden
Previous elected service: None
Advisory board/commission experience: Chairman, Camp Verde Board of Appeals; member of both the Economic Development Advisory Committee and Business Retention and Expansion Committee
Club affiliations: Grand Canyon Rotary Club; Camp Verde Kiwanis and Camp Verde American Legion