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Student Led Community Forum

Flagstaff city councilmember Jamie Whelan talks with a student Thursday during a community forum at Flagstaff High School.

Councilmember Jamie Whelan announced Saturday evening that she would be seeking to replace Coral Evans as mayor of Flagstaff.

Evans announced Saturday she would be seeking a seat in the state House of Representatives.

“I am very excited,” Whelan said, adding she has been considering a run for mayor since learning Evans was planning to run for a seat in the legislature.

Whelan said she and Evans spoke a number of times about who they felt would be a good fit in the position of mayor before she made the decision.

Whelan said she has also spoken to most of the other Flagstaff City Councilmembers about her bid for mayor, although it is not yet clear if any other councilmember may also decide to run for the position.

The former vice-mayor said the same qualities that make her a good teacher are also a benefit in government: She does her homework, and is a thoughtful, mindful individual who can still provide strong leadership.

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And after two years as vice-mayor and two years as a councilmember, Whelan said she has the experience for the job.

“The learning curve [on the council] is just so gigantic it takes really two years just to get up to speed, to have the context for how decisions are being made,” Whelan said.

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Whelan said when she was vice-mayor and filled in for Evans, she gained a lot of experience in the role of a facilitator for both Council and city staff. Whelan added she has learned being in a position of leadership requires taking a more broad view of situations.

Whelan added she wants to continue to make progress on a number of issues including further development of attainable workforce housing, helping struggling business though the rising minimum wage and making sure the city is not only being reactive.

Whelan also said she hopes to find ways the city can promote education, mental health and public well being, all of which she said are important to her.

Whelan was first elected to Flagstaff City Council in 2016 and has lived in the city for over 26 years. She has owned small businesses and worked as a teacher for Flagstaff Unified School District and Northern Arizona University.

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Adrian Skabelund can be reached at the office at askabelund@azdailysun.com, by phone at (928) 556-2261 or on Twitter @AdrianSkabelund.

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