Flagstaff has a new candidate running for city council as downtown business owner Miranda Sweet announced her decision to seek office.
Sweet, who has been a resident of Flagstaff for 26 years, said she has considered running for a seat on city council for about 11 years, but this was the first year it felt like the right decision to make.
For the past 18 years, Sweet has sold clothing, shoes and locally made jewelry at her downtown shop Rainbow's End.
But since she decided to run for office, Sweet said she has also been attending every city council meeting she can in order to get up to speed on the issues affecting Flagstaff.
And Sweet added the experience of becoming more connected to local government has been life-changing.
“Whether I get voted in or not, it has given me such a greater appreciation for our town and what it takes, the hard work and dedication,” Sweet said. “Even at 11:15 at night after I’ve worked all day at Rainbow's End, I go to the council meeting, I haven’t had dinner, but I am still just hanging on to every word and watching with such curiosity and amazement and I go to bed and I just feel so exhilarated.”
As she has been educating herself, Sweet said she has seen two issues dominate the conversation: housing and economic anxiety.
Sweet said every person she has spoken to has brought up the issue of housing in Flagstaff, either expressing frustration over the affordability of housing or the effect Northern Arizona University has had on the city.
When it comes to the issue of economic anxiety, Sweet said she has more experience than just what she has learned from speaking to people and going to council meetings.
Sweet said the fact she owns her own business downtown and has worked on the Downtown Business Alliance gives her valuable experience about the business environment in Flagstaff, adding that it feels like the city is in “a funky spot right now.”
“I have two jobs to make sure that my business is running and when I talk to people in Flagstaff, we call it the Flagstaff shuffle and we're all doing it,” Sweet said. “I am modifying my business plan all the time during these uncharted times.”
Sweet said being a business owner has also let her meet all kinds of people and talk to them about Flagstaff and the issues they and the city are facing.
On top of having considered running for public office for some time, Sweet said friends and family members have also been pushing her to run for years.
Sweet said she was particularly pushed to run by her late father, who always hoped she would seek public office.
“The final catalyst was my dad when he was on his death bed," she said. "He had always said 'you need to run for office,' and I almost forgot to tell him but I said, ‘Dad, I’m going to do it,' and he could barely talk at the time.”
Her father asked her when and she told him she would be running in the 2020 election.
“He said, ‘About time.’ Those were his last words to me,” Sweet said.