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Planning and Zoning Commissioner Eric Nolan announces bid for Flagstaff council seat

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Eric Nolan announces bid for Flagstaff council seat

From the Meet the candidates for Flagstaff City Council 2020 series

Another person has thrown their hat into the ring in hopes of sitting on Flagstaff City Council.

Northern Arizona University researcher, and Planning and Zoning Commissioner, Eric Nolan announced he would be seeking a spot on council during the 2020 election.

Nolan, who moved to Flagstaff in 2010, said he first began to consider running for council after joining the Planning and Zoning Commission in February of this year.

Before he joined the commission, Nolan said he had actually been limiting his involvement in aspects of Flagstaff politics.

“What I didn’t want to do when I first came here was be that hotshot from California that thinks he has all the answers and just start stepping on toes,” Nolan said. “I’m not about that so I really wanted to listen first.”

On the commission, Nolan said he was able to see just how much the city was growing and also look at some of the issues facing Flagstaff. But Nolan said he also saw how state law could limit how much the city could address, and even how city officials had to talk about issues.

Around the same time, Nolan also joined the board of the group Friends of Flagstaff’s Future.

Nolan said one of the top issues he hopes he can help find a solution to is the balance between growth and housing affordability, and the issue of open space.

“There’s this sort of polar argument where open space is on one side and affordable housing is on the other. And I’ve been talking to a lot of folks on this and it’s clear that we just don’t have a clear enough vision of where we want,” Nolan said.

Nolan added that he believes solving the issue of housing affordability is also closely linked to the number of large housing developments that have been the trend the past several years.

One way he thinks the city could help manage this growth while keeping Flagstaff's character and appreciation for open spaces is to identify specific viewsheds to preserve and then focusing affordable housing outside of those areas, Nolan said.

Another issue Nolan said he hopes to address is the relationship with the state. He said there are a lot of challenges that could be made easier to solve with a better relationship with the state government, including the growth of the university.

Communicating with the president of NAU about growth is only so useful when the mandate is coming from the Board of Regents, Nolan said.

Nolan said he also believes he has the right mindset to be on council. Nolan added it is important to look at issues with both the heart and the head, looking at something with compassion but also from an analytical viewpoint.

Nolan said his mom worked for a municipality, so he said he grew up around a lot of local government, adding that his mom was not surprised to hear that he was running even, if it wasn’t always on his mind.

Nolan added he is excited as he believes local government is one place you can really see democracy in action.

“I feel fortunate that I’m in a community that actually feels like a community,” Nolan said.

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


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