With current Council Member Emilena Turley not running for reelection and Council Member Julia Wheatley running for mayor, only one incumbent, Dawn Oliphant, is running to keep her seat.
She faces candidates Lamar Keener, Bryan McClure, Matt McWilliams and Travis Padilla. 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. Their answers will be published in the June and July issues of the newspaper.
Why are you running?
Lamar Keener, 68, is the executive director of the Evangelical Press Association. He has lived in Queen Creek for five years.
“My wife and I have grown to love and appreciate the small town and rural vibe. We feel a real sense of community here. I believe the Town of Queen Creek has, for the most part, been managed well, and I want to do my part to keep it moving in the right direction,” Keener wrote.
Bryan McClure, 41, is a business owner and financial adviser. He is a native of Queen Creek.
“I love our hometown and am passionate about serving the community. My desire is to create a positive future for the residents and businesses of Queen Creek,” McClure wrote.
Matt McWilliams, 51, is an attorney and regulatory compliance manager. He has lived close to 11 years in Queen Creek.
“I am running for Queen Creek Town Council because of a desire to further the vision of those families that founded the Town of Queen Creek. This is no small task. Striving to maintain a hometown feel amidst rapid growth will be challenging. I am running because I bring a unique set of skills and perspective that is particularly suited to the rapid growth that is happening now in Queen Creek. I served as a commissioner on the Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission for two and quarter years. I learned valuable insight into how to evaluate projects that were coming to Queen Creek and balance the needs our citizens, citizen landowners, and developers. As a commissioner, I had to figure out what projects our town needs and determine where they are best situated. Those decisions have a big impact on the future of our town, and I look for solutions that are good today, but will also remain so for our kids and grandkids in the future. As a commissioner, I worked hard to ensure that Queen Creek displayed a willingness to work with the goals of all parties to create positive outcomes for Queen Creek. I also worked in traffic engineering during the summer of my freshman year in college. I look forward to working with the town staff to find the best possible solutions for the traffic challenges of a growing town. I will work hard for the citizens of Queen Creek. It is you that make Queen Creek such an incredible place to live. I am running for Queen Creek Town Council to preserve what our citizens have created in Queen Creek, one of the best places to live in America,” 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.
“I am running for re-election to continue to manage the town’s growth, improve the roads, support small businesses, fiscally responsible with taxpayer money and to serve the amazing residents of Queen Creek,” Oliphant wrote.
Travis Padilla, 41, is president of Strategy Payments, a business consulting firm. He has lived in Queen Creek for 13 years.
“Queen Creek was recently voted as the top town in the country to raise a family and I want to keep it that way. I want my children to attend good schools, start businesses, and raise their families here without having to search for a new town with the community, security, and prosperity we enjoy now,” Padilla wrote
How do you envision Queen Creek keeping its small-town feel as the population grows?
“We need to manage growth and balance the interests of both business and residents, including those who live in the more rural parts of the town. Re-zoning requests must be scrutinized to make sure they are in the best interest of the town overall and not just favoring developers and special interests,” Keener wrote.
"It’s the people, both young & old, who ultimately create our small-town feel. Growing up here, we knew our neighbors and were there to help each other. Maintaining a culture and environment for residents to connect and serve one another is key. One of the ways we do this is through special events such as Spring Into QC, Founders’ Day, and the Holiday Festival & Parade. Our small-town feel is promoted through community partners like Schnepf Farms, Queen Creek Olive Mill, Hayden Flour Mills, Queen Creek Botanical Gardens, and the QC Performing Arts Center. Building out our trail systems and park facilities will also play an important role in this effort. Additionally, working with faith groups, non-profits, schools and businesses to solve problems will go a long way to connect our families and preserve our roots," McClure wrote.
“I am from a small town, and I know the small-town feel comes from neighbors knowing neighbors and citizens sharing a combined experience. I believe the ongoing support of many activities, especially for kids, will help Queen Creek keep that small town feel. The reason is that both parents and children are involved. A key to supporting those activities is creating an environment where small businesses can thrive. Small businesses support so many local teams and activities. It is a win-win situation because they provide funding for these activities by supporting them, but also gain advertising exposure for the business. This lessens the financial burden to support these activities by local government. We need to promote private and public events that bring our citizens together in meaningful and interactive ways. Volunteer opportunities are also a wonderful way to promote the small-town feel and I will seek out creative ways to have more people involved. The more we interact and know each other by name, the more small-town feel we will have in Queen Creek,” McWilliams wrote.
“Queen Creek keeps its small town feel through the great people and community. It is having strong neighborhoods, it is knowing the names of those that work in retail and the restaurants we visit. It is our church family and the amazing town events that bring the residents together,” Oliphant wrote.
“Queen Creek may be growing quickly, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose our small-town feel. I’ll work to promote engagement with our community to ensure that town residents have their voices heard and are able to have dialogue with the Town Council to keep the feel of our town the same no matter how large it grows,” Padilla wrote.
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