Candidates agree that keeping urban growth from eroding the rural character of Cave Creek and Carefree remains the overriding challenge for the neighboring municipalities as their primary election days arrive.
Residents have until Tuesday to cast ballots for each of the seven seats on their community’s respective town council.
Voters are likely to make their choices based on which candidates they believe can best help the communities deal with development pressures, said Cave Creek Mayor Vincent Francia.
Cave Creek last year issued 150 building permits, a 50 percent increase from 2003.
"For a community of about 4,300 (residents), that’s a big jump," Francia said.
Carefree, with about 3,300 residents, isn’t growing quite as fast. But buildout of the town, and a doubling of the population, is all but certain in the next 15 years, Mayor Ed Morgan said.
The town has to act soon to get additional infrastructure in place in time to handle such growth, Morgan said.
Both towns have major concerns about zoning, land use, water resources, roads, public services and commercial development.
"We have to resolve these issues before they become a crisis," Francia said.
Francia is running unopposed for his fourth consecutive two-year term as mayor, but eight other candidates are vying for the remaining six council positions.
Grace Meeth is running for a fifth two-year council term. Gilbert Lopez is running for a fourth term, and Jay Williams for a second term.
Five challengers include Cave Creek planning commissioners Kim Brennan and Dicker Esser. Others are Ernie Bunch, Richard Corles and Thomas McGuire.
Morgan is serving his third two-year term as Carefree mayor, his fourth consecutive term on the council. The mayor is not selected outright, but chosen by each new town council after the general election.
Along with Morgan, the council ballot includes incumbents Bob Coady, Mike Eicher, Wayne Fulcher and Greg Gardner, each of whom has served two or three terms, and Lloyd Meyer, who was appointed last year to replace Gordon Zucker.
The challengers are Gary Hayward, Lyn Hitchon, planning commissioner David Schwan and Stephen Warsaw.
Candidates point to the same growth-related topics as major issues for both towns. They include securing adequate fire protection and water services, and battling urban sprawl by controlling commercial development, protecting natural open space and strict adherence to zoning ordinances designed to protect the rural ambience.
Each candidate must get votes on at least 50 percent of the ballots cast, plus one vote, to be elected outright in the primary. There will be a May 17 general election runoff for any council seat not filled by the primary vote.
• For information about the Carefree primary election, call (480) 488-3683 or visit www.carefree.org; for Cave Creek, call (480) 488-1400 or visit
• Voting in Carefree is by mail-in ballot, which must be postmarked by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Ballots were mailed to registered voters, but also are available at Carefree Town Hall, 100 Easy St.
• In Cave Creek, early mail-in ballots not yet mailed can be brought to Cave Creek Town Hall, 37622 N. Cave Creek Road, through Tuesday. Early walk-in voting ended Friday. Town Hall will be the only polling place for walk-in voting on election day.