Flagstaff City Council and mayoral candidates have been given the chance to answer a weekly question in no more than 150 words. This week’s question: Looking back in the last two years, what is one thing you believe council did well or should have done differently?
The current council has done a fair job, in good faith, tackling complex issues that don’t have black-and-white solutions. One impressive accomplishment has been the development of a draft Climate Action and Adaptation Plan — a roadmap for how Flagstaff prepares for and responds to climate change in coming years. I’m also impressed with council’s efforts to support social and environmental justice for Native American communities by taking initial action to halt the transport of uranium through Flagstaff and tribal lands.
Fast-tracking the re-mapping of transect zoning districts (to help avoid future undesirable off-campus student housing developments) is another bold action that’s in synergy with my campaign’s organizing principle of “Solving Tomorrow’s Problems Today!”
Past councils have lacked sufficient clout to seize upon forward-thinking approaches like those mentioned above. I’m running to help lead a new council toward delivering smarter, more sustainable solutions to the many threats looming on our horizon.
One recent decision I think council did well is placing on the agenda an item to take back authority over water contracts. Currently, city staff decide on whether a particular water contract will be signed or not, and I believe council and the community should have the final say on the use of this precious resource.
This will create greater transparency and accountability with our water use in town, requiring multiple public meetings with elected officials before large contracts can move forward.
One thing that the City Council did well in the past was to dedicate city land towards building a veterans home in Flagstaff. All the council members were supportive of this idea and did not make the issue political. This veteran’s home will greatly serve the northern Arizona veterans and their families.
The one thing that the City Council could have done differently was to address the issue of a backup source of power for the water department to prevent an interruption of service in a timely manner. Water for our city should be a priority issue with emergency funds being allocated as soon as possible to address this issue. The two and one half day water supply reserve would quickly evaporate as panic takes over. Issues like these should be addressed immediately.
Council’s goals are essential to community vitality. There are goals set beyond council’s authority requiring state and/or federal policy actions.
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I would’ve voted to send the community-driven Flagstaff Open Space, Parks and Recreation initiative to the ballot allowing Flagstaff voters to decide on the need for a regional sports park to serve youth, adults, community and competitive tennis, soccer, little league and softball teams. The Flagstaff Open Space Program (FOSP) is underfunded. The City spends $11.74/ acre while robust open space programs invest $100/acre. To continue the preservation of natural resources, dedicated funding is needed for FOSP.
My top priority: advance economic vitality by growing and strengthening a resilient economy through balanced, planned, managed and sustainable growth. I support small business retention, tourism, new business development, workforce development, and local nonprofits; while protecting natural areas, open spaces and dark skies.
Council worked efficiently in addressing the compiling effect of the state and local minimum wage increase. Prop 414, the local minimum wage, aimed to raise min wage to $10, then increase to $15 over 5 years. But, because Prop 206, the state min wage, also passed, and 414 stated we are to remain $2 above the state’s minimum wage, our local minimum wage would jump to $12 immediately. This significant increase was challenging to many local businesses and nonprofits.
Council meetings were packed and the environment was tense. I was impressed at how council worked collaboratively, discussed the subject thoroughly, and weighed all perspectives. Council eventually amended Prop 414, preventing the $2 state buffer from going into effect until after our minimum wage reached its end goal. Council did a good job listening to the public, while also respecting the voters’ wishes by only adjusting the rate of the process.
Two things come to mind.
First, our city leaders have done well by making sure our financial condition is in good shape. This has been accomplished while obtaining funding for the Fourth Street Overpass widening project. Thank you so much for your stewardship.
Second, our council is addressing the city’s compensation program(s) for our employees. We must retain our great human talent so our city continues to be both a livable and desirable place for everyone.
I’ve had the honor of serving on Flagstaff’s city council for a decade now and I can say with certainty that this council has done a lot for Flagstaff’s future. We’ve taken action on climate change, on water, on traffic, minimum wage, and improving our relationships with the Native American nations of northern Arizona.
But if I had to name one thing that I think we did well it would be the affordable housing bond that will be on the ballot in November. The cost of living has been Flagstaff’s biggest, most urgent, most persistent, and unrelenting problem for generations. It’s beyond time to try something new. This bond will allow the city to help make affordable housing a possibility for families, workers, and people who otherwise might have to go elsewhere.
Flagstaff should be for everyone, not just the fortunate. This bond is a step in the right direction.