With current Councilmember Emilena Turley not running for reelection and Councilmember Julia Wheatley running for mayor, only one incumbent, Dawn Oliphant, is running to keep her seat.
She faces candidates Bryan McClure, Matt McWilliams and Travis Padilla. Lamar Keener withdrew from the race on Thursday, May 26.
The primary election is Aug. 2. The general election, if needed, will be held on Nov. 8.
The mayor and six town councilmembers are the only elected officials in the municipality. The mayor and councilmembers serve four-year terms and are elected at large on a nonpartisan ballot.
Councilmembers are elected on a rotating basis, so three seats are up for election every two years. There are no term limits for the mayor or councilmembers.
The council is responsible for setting public policy, approving the town’s annual budget, entering agreements, providing executive leadership, making planning and development decisions, and adopting new codes and ordinances.
The Queen Creek Independent sent a questionnaire to the candidates. Here are their answers.
What do you think should be the town’s priorities?
Bryan McClure, 41, is a business owner and financial adviser. He is a native of Queen Creek.
“We must continue to fund road projects to provide adequate infrastructure for our thriving community. Supporting the growing need for public safety is essential to maintaining the high quality of life we currently enjoy. It is imperative that the Town of Queen Creek continues to be fiscally responsible and respect taxpayer dollars. We also need to promote a business friendly environment and attract high wage employment. A focus on family values and setting up future generations for success must be a priority,” McClure wrote.
Matt McWilliams, 51, is an attorney and regulatory compliance manager. He has lived close to 11 years in Queen Creek.
“Queen Creek’s priorities should always be public safety first and foremost. The town has done a wonderful job at navigating us to where we are today, and this will remain the top priority. Traffic solutions are also top priority as Queen Creek grows. It is not just about traffic flowing so we can move about easily, but also is a component of safety. I will work on solutions that achieve both. Fiscal responsibility is also a priority. We are stewards of the public’s trust. It is your money that we are entrusted with, I will work to use them to benefit our citizens and look to reduce and eliminate debt,” McWilliams wrote.
Dawn Oliphant, 49, is a business owner and current member of the Queen Creek Town Council. She has lived in Queen Creek for 16 years.
“The town’s priorities are public safety. This year the town cut the ribbon on another fire station and launched a brand new police department at the start of the year. I will continue to support the needs of the community through responsible growth of both of these departments,” Oliphant wrote.
Travis Padilla, 41, is president of Strategy Payments, a business consulting firm. He has lived in Queen Creek for 13 years.
“Our town has been playing catch up with growth for years and our roads are a mess as a result. Instead we need to focus on future-proofing our roads to match projected growth! Inflation in labor, materials, and financing show that we need to secure funding now to avoid higher construction costs in the future. I want to focus on improving roads now by using my lifelong business skills to ensure the work gets done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“While misguided voices want to defund the police, I am proud to do the opposite and support our QC Police, Fire, public safety officials, and first responders by making sure they have the resources they need to serve town residents.
“Queen Creek is a great family values town. I’ll put families first when making long-term plans, so that the things we love about Queen Creek are preserved for generations to come.
“Just as QC residents can’t spend more than they earn and must stick to a family budget, so should our town maintain fiscal responsibility. Too many government officials believe that unlimited borrowing and spending won’t affect our community but that is simply not the case. I will only support balanced budgets that protect Queen Creek taxpayers!
“Queen Creek is growing very quickly and we know that isn’t going to stop anytime soon. That’s why we need to ensure that our growth is properly managed, so that our infrastructure keeps up, we maintain a good balance of retail and commercial growth, not just housing growth, and so that we have the water resources we all need,” Padila wrote.
What are your thoughts on plans to build new parks in the town?
“I am proud to support our current parks and trail systems and look forward to the construction of Frontier Family Park. The residents of Queen Creek have patiently waited for supply to meet demand. It is time to responsibly build more parks and trails to catch up with the need that will only increase as more residents move here. I am pleased with the town’s budgeting and improved credit rating to make expanding parks feasible. The growth of our area will provide revenue for these projects and the ability to host additional events (e.g. marathons) will have a positive impact on our local economy. My family frequents both public and private facilities within our town so I am excited to see these sectors continue to work together to provide highly desirable amenities. Queen Creek was voted best place to raise a family in the western U.S.; establishing the proper quantity of parks will help keep it that way,” McClure wrote.
“Parks are important to Queen Creek as they provide places to play and relax. If Queen Creek had remained large acreage parcels, the need for more parks would not be as great. Unfortunately, the economics of the valley of the sun being so desirable did not lend itself to Queen Creek developing that way. As such, parks are needed and can have a two-fold purpose. First, they provide the aforementioned place to play and relax. In addition, when a park is built that land is now precluded from residential development and a larger population. This is beneficial to helping Queen Creek’s traffic issue and helping maintain the small-town feel. Because there is a cost today building parks and an ongoing cost to maintain them, careful consideration must be given to providing just the right amount of park amenities without creating a budgetary burden now and in the future,” McWilliams wrote.
“For years the Town Council and town has focused on building roads and enhancing public safety. Now it is time to build the parks to match all the growth. Parks build community. For years, the residents have been asking for more parks. When re-elected I will support the building of parks in the areas of the community that are needed the most to support the levels of serve that was adopted by the town council years ago,” Oliphant wrote.
“Local parks are enjoyable for town residents and promote a wonderful sense of community and friendship. If not managed properly, parks can become money pits that do not meet the needs of the neighborhoods they are meant to serve. I will ensure our parks are built and maintained with best use and fiscal responsibility in mind,” Padilla wrote.
How do you characterize efforts to bring new business to the town?
“For many years, I have volunteered with the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce to advocate for policies that will create a better business environment. As a small business owner, I also see the importance of enhancing the development of our workforce. With less regulation and more qualified people to work, our business community will continue to thrive. We need to support the growth of small businesses and properly fund infrastructure to attract quality companies that pay a living wage. This will encourage entrepreneurship, provide work opportunities closer to home, and help alleviate traffic congestion,” McClure wrote.
“I prefer locally owned business to larger corporations. I do believe there is a correct mix of those types of business that helps balance what Queen Creek wants to create for its citizens. The town council and mayor should be involved in making Queen Creek the most attractive place for both. The smaller locally owned business helps maintain the small-town feel. The larger business especially on the northern side of town provide opportunities for work for our citizens with a shorter commuting time. Our efforts should be focused on bringing in businesses in their various types and sizes that benefit Queen Creek holistically and in multiple areas,” McWilliams wrote.
“A diversity of services and opportunities sets Queen Creek apart from the surrounding cities and towns.
“Income - With one of the highest medium incomes in Maricopa County, business want to be in the town limits to serve the residents with their goods and services.
“Infrastructure — At the end of 2022 the town will have more freeway access points to the State Route 24 which appeals to larger businesses in the northern quadrant area of the town. Queen Creek’s border is a few miles from an airport and depending on what types of manufacturing business is looking, that maybe a benefit to their needs.
“Highly educated — With strong school districts, and over 30% of the residents of Queen Creek have a bachelors or master’s degree, employers are interested in an educated workforce,” Oliphant wrote.
“Our local businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and deserve council members who fight to welcome and support them. In addition to ensuring local businesses stay open, I will fight to ensure they enjoy the same ability to compete in the free market as their competitors by voting against measures that result in the town picking winners and losers through taxpayer subsidies,” Padilla wrote.