Flagstaff City Councilmember and businesswoman Regina Salas announced Friday that she is seeking the office of mayor in the 2022 election.
Salas, an immigrant and naturalized citizen who has lived in Flagstaff for 15 years, is currently finishing her first term on the city council. After serving the community for the past three years, she declared “it was time to offer my public service to be the next mayor.”
With the announcement, she joins fellow councilmember and current Vice Mayor Becky Daggett, who announced her bid in early September.
Salas said she had been considering a run for Flagstaff’s highest office after receiving calls and messages from her supporters immediately following the results for the last mayoral election. She chose to wait to make the announcement until the time was right, she said.
“Not only Flagstaff voters, but throughout the nation there was a lot of election fatigue,” Salas said. “So I wanted to give it time, and give the new mayor a chance.”
People are also reading…
But after encountering drama on the city council, Salas said she knew it was important to give the voters another choice. As the only current independent councilmember, Salas said she brings experience and new perspective to the table.
“I bring proven leadership having served on the council with my well-rounded background in government, business and nonprofit,” Salas said. “I hope that our Flagstaff voters will choose leadership experience, discernment, accomplishment and also the ability to bring integrity back to the mayor’s office.”
The announcement comes amid ongoing tension between the current mayor and councilmembers. In August, Salas was one of the councilmembers publicly called out by Mayor Paul Deasy for missing a special meeting he had called with one-day notice.
Salas said she missed the meeting because she volunteered to represent Flagstaff at the League of Cities and Towns Conference in Phoenix, which the mayor and vice mayor said they were unable to attend.
“Those meetings are typically attended by the mayor,” Salas said, noting the conflict was emblematic of her leadership concerns.
“It's humbling to admit that the current Council is fragmented and lacks cohesion. I have worked with the previous Council with the former mayor’s leadership, and there was strong camaraderie. The previous Council promoted strong understanding and consensus.”
Salas said she hopes to bring that culture back to city council, especially as Flagstaff moves to address important upcoming issues.
Salas said one of her top priorities is to promote strong economic development and “help local businesses thrive.” Some of the ways she said she hopes to achieve that goal is through creating workforce development programs, strengthening business retention, diversifying the economic sector and promoting eco-tourism.
“One of the initiatives I have been quietly working on is establishing a pipe trades apprenticeship training center in Flagstaff to train and produce the best skilled, trained and certified journeypersons,” Salas said.
Salas pointed to her history advocating for rural transportation as one of the selling points in her campaign, noting her work in the Rural Transportation Advocacy Council. She added that she will look to bring more state and federal dollars not only to Flagstaff and Coconino County, but to the region.
“And of course I am very passionate about comprehensively and meaningfully addressing homelessness and achieving housing attainability for our own families and workforce,” Salas said.
Salas was a member of the city council that declared a housing emergency in December. It was another issue that topped her list of priorities. With her mayoral bid, Salas said, she will strive to promote “unity through diversity.”
“I vow to continue serving our diverse Flagstaff community with honor, respect and independence while promoting fiscal, responsibility and consensus building between, pursuing private-public partnerships, and seeking diversity, inclusion, equity and access for all," she said.
Salas currently represents the City of Flagstaff on the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona and Metropolitan Greater Flagstaff. She is also the Council liaison to the City’s Airport, Tourism and Parks and Recreation Commissions.
Before running for city council, Salas spent more than seven years working for Coconino County as an outreach coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Department. She helped develop the nonprofit Friends of Coconino County Parks and was a part of the team that developed the Fort Tuthill Master Plan.
Salas was born and raised in the Philippines, and according to her website, attributes her love for the outdoors, communing with nature, stewardship of natural resources and community service to her upbringing.