Candidate Profile: For Emick, stability and decorum needed to address Apple Valley’s issues (October 4, 2018)
APPLE VALLEY — Curt Emick’s High Desert roots run deeper than you might think.
The 62-year-old pharmacist moved to Apple Valley in 1982, but his family made a home away from home locally long before that in 1957. Somewhere, he told the Daily Press, there’s a photograph of him as a baby watching his father build their cabin.
“I was actually born in San Gabriel, California, and that was back in 1956, one year after Disneyland (opened),” Emick said. “My parents bought five acres in Lucerne Valley at what I think was $5 an acre … There’s a lot of childhood memories.”
The family trekked to those rural outskirts two or three times a year, Emick said. Pit stops at Stoddard Jess’ ranch produced turkeys, eggs and sausages that lasted throughout week-long vacations.
Some six decades later, Emick is eyeing a third Council term in the town he passed through as a child. He explained that campaigning is the part of the political process he enjoys most as an incumbent.
“I can’t think of any better way of going out in to the community and finding out what (residents) feel right now,” Emil said. ”‘Are we doing a good job? What would you like to see? Is there something better that we can do?’ You get all that information every four years, guaranteed. You get it during the year, too, but you really get it when you run for election.”
Emick said the majority of voters’ questions have involved the town’s ongoing takeover bid of Liberty Utilities’ water system, the budget and public safety. With that in mind, his primary focus areas shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“The main issue that I’m concerned about — and that we’ve been working on — would be the water,” Emick said. “I think that’s the most common talking point that I’ve had out there, and I’m going door to door … No. 2 on the list would be the budget and the public safety. I’d say they kind of go hand-in-hand. Even though they can be separate issues, they are related in a lot of respects.”
The town’s battle with Liberty has been a central topic in the community for years. An eminent domain lawsuit filed against the company in January 2016 is projected to go to trial in mid-to-late 2019, according to town and Liberty officials. Asked if the acquisition effort was a motivating factor in his decision to run for re-election, Emick said he announced his candidacy with a fundraiser in November to show that he takes water, and other matters, seriously.
“Was it a contributing factor? Well, it’s an important factor,” he said. “When you start something like that that’s so important to the community … you want to see it through … There’s always something that you’re working on … but the water definitely has a lot to do with it.”
If any issue overshadowed water this year, it was Apple Valley’s Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget process. A balanced general fund was approved in late June after months of Council and administrative decisions that brought cuts to long-term employee benefits, the closure of Virginia Park and the elimination of two management-level staff positions.
As a result, a previously reported $2.6 million shortfall in the general fund was erased, but that didn’t make the choices easier, according to Emick.
“The decisions have been tough,” he said. “They’ve been tough in the past when the bottom fell out of the economy. I remember those days. Unfortunately, you know, you’re not getting the spike in tax revenues … The sales tax isn’t shooting up like it should be. We’re still seeing leakage out of the town. Property tax is the other way, and that’s got a limit because of (Proposition) 13. So you’ve got some issues here that are going to take some time for us to get through.”
Other candidates, as well as outgoing Town Councilor Barb Stanton, have pointed to the cannabis industry as part of the solution to Apple Valley’s financial situation. Emick, however, has long opposed any embrace of the industry.
The reasons for his resistance are myriad. He mentioned cash businesses, side effects like psychosis and paranoia, addiction rates and crime as contributing factors. Beyond that, though, he likened marketing of medicinal cannabis to a similar push for opiates decades ago.
“I do a presentation … and I go through the exact same thing that I saw in the ’90s when they were putting the opiates on the market,” Emick said. “It’s no different than what I’m seeing now. The only difference is the product. So when you start bringing that stuff to me, I’m going, ‘Wait. This industry — the healthcare industry — made a mistake once. Why would you do it twice?’ … How can I as a pharmacist, knowing that I have to say what’s best for my community, validate it?”
Despite legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in California, Emick said the lack of legal status at the federal level also raises legal concerns for elected officials who vote favorably on cannabis-related issues. As a result, he positioned himself as “skeptical” at best.
“It just creates possibly more problems that would take more money than I think you’re going to get in return,” he said. “I’m very leery as to what’s going to happen here.”
As such, Emick is proud of the Town Council’s decision to, for now, keep cannabis out of Apple Valley. He’s more proud, however, of the professionalism he said he and his colleagues have maintained on the dais throughout his first two terms, even when disagreements arise.
He views that as the most positive aspect of town government, as well as a selling point for voters who want stability and decorum inside Council chambers.
“The fact is that perception means a lot to businesses coming in, people that live here,” Emick said. “When a government is pretty stable — and I don’t mean they vote the same way; they have their disagreements — they don’t look over each other’s shoulders to find out if they’re going to get stabbed somewhere along the line. I think that’s an asset.
“So I’m proud of the fact that the five of us can get in there, and it doesn’t matter what the decision is, but we can turn around and we can talk to each other, be cordial humans and still move on, and support what that Council has decided. I think that’s what I’m most proud of.”
The general election is Nov. 6. Visit www.VVDailyPress.com to see videos of each candidate explaining why they’re running for office and what key issues they’re focused on.
Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press