What three attributes do you consider Flagstaff’s greatest assets and why?
1. The people. The diversity of people and culture in Flagstaff is incredible.
2. The charm of Flagstaff. The charm we have as a small town community, especially our downtown. You cannot go out in Flagstaff without running into someone you know, I love it. 3. The natural beauty surrounding Flagstaff. We are surrounded by Coconino National Forest with the largest Ponderosa forest and our viewsheds are incredible of our beautiful mountain.
What government strategies and policies, if any, do you believe can address Flagstaff’s high cost of living and unaffordability?
I believe there is a role of government that encourages more housing stock that makes sense. For example Accessory Dwelling Units(ADU) needs to be allowed when new construction happens or where’s there an existing residential unit that would like to add an ADU. The one item I’m really excited about is the potential of redevelopment of City owned and managed housing stock. The City is ready to put out a request to partner with the City to increase the housing stock to help the most vulnerable in our community.
Flagstaff’s High Occupancy Housing Plan was approved in 2018 and staff is starting to bring to Council changes to the zoning code promoted in the plan. What are your thoughts about the goals in this plan regarding building height, location and size and do you think they are adequate to deal with the concerns people have expressed about this type of housing going into the future?
Right now we are having discussions concerning the Community Commercial zoning that has 60 feet height allowance. This type of zoning is north part of downtown, south part of downtown, and in Sunnyside. The proposal is for a new zoning called Neighborhood Community Commercial with height limitation at 45 feet. I like the height limitations in neighborhoods could be reduced to scale, but we need to have “buy-in” from the communities and we will have to consider Prop 207 concerns.
In 2018 the City Council passed the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Just recently they declared a Climate Emergency and elevated the goals of the CAAP to carbon neutrality by 2030. What strategies would you prioritize in order to achieve carbon neutrality and how will you reallocate budget resources or come up with new revenue streams to fund these changes?
I voted for the Climate Emergency Declaration Resolution that did elevate for our community to be carbon neutral by 2030. It’s ambitious and I believed it needs to be ambitious for us to get moving quickly to be carbon neutral. I believe it takes political will to achieve greatness for community needs. We can do that through efficient waste management, sustainable housing, efficient drinking water resources, a true multimodal transportation network.
Flagstaff has been using reclaimed water to replace the use of potable water for applications such as irrigation, toilet flushing and snowmaking. City Water Services is starting a study to consider how to manage reclaimed water for the long term. The study will consider whether to expand its use, use it for aquifer recharge, or reserve it as a future potential source of drinking water (after further processing). What are your thoughts about the future of reclaimed water use?
I believe we need to be proactive in how we look at water in all encompassing approach. Surface water for example, how do we protect our surface water so it provides the greatest use. We are actually studying that right now of what we loose to evaporation and how much goes to the recharge of the aquifer? The future path is that reclaim water is a valuable resource that needs to be used to its fullest potential. Some day we could for example see reclaimed water put right into our surface water supplies like they have done in Las Vegas.
Flagstaff has long used tiered water rates for residential customers as an incentive to conserve water (under tiered rates, the price per gallon increases as usage rises). Do you favor extending tiered rates to commercial and industrial customers?
We’ve had this discussion and it’s not easy to compare to what we’ve done on the residential side. The commercial side we have manufacturing that uses water like Purina that would have a negative economic impact on the community. We had the tissue plant that was a heavy water user and because of the volume they did that company subsidized the community’s water usage costs that when they left we had to raise rates to make up the shortfall in revenues that was lost. Going forward it would be my wishes that we don’t attract industries that rely heavy on water.
Flagstaff’s minimum wage will rise to $15.50 per hour on January 1, 2022. On January 1, 2026 the tipped minimum wage, which is currently $3 less than the full minimum wage, will match the full minimum wage. Do you support the minimum wage ordinance that was approved by Flagstaff voters?
The minimum wage ordinance is the law of the land decided by the voters twice. I will not make any effort to overturn the ordinance.
What, if anything, do you believe the City ought to do to support and protect undocumented residents?
I was the one who brought forward a City Council Resolution concerning the DACA or Dreamer residents in our communities urging Congress to address the issue, Daily Sun September 27, 2018 “Council calls for DACA fix by Congress”. It’s discouraging that Congress has yet provided a resolution to solve the issue. We need to be compassionate of all our residents in our communities and as a Council body need to be advocating Congress to find a resolution on the issue of residents that are not citizens.
In light of the recent national protests against racism and police violence, many people are calling for re-imagining the role of policing in our communities. How do you envision applying this to Flagstaff?
Since I was elected in 2016 Councils made great strides to help our officers in doing their job in that we’ve hired more police for we had the same amount of officers on the job since 2006, we gave them a merit pay raise for they hadn’t had a raise in over a decade, we hired police aides to alleviate the workload of sworn officers and their pension is 100% funded. The Council had discussions in what are the alternative resources that may not need a sworn officer response? At the end of the day it came down to dollars that we didn’t have to carry out a different path to a response. So we rely on our social service provider partnerships with responses. We are going to have future community conversation on the topic that I’m looking forward to the discussion.
What are your three greatest concerns regarding Flagstaff’s future and what steps should we take to help address them?
1. The Flagstaff economy especially concerning jobs within a global pandemic of COVID. . I would like to provide an environment that provides quick responses from the City to businesses and especially to listen to what they need to be successful.
2. Housing attainability in all forms in the income scale. Besides my previous answers, I would like to meet with the property owners of the larger housing projects that have empty commercial spaces in our community to reconfigure for housing that meets certain requirements for example, that are 60% area median income.
3. Public safety in that we’ve seen more shootings and the increase in graffiti. I would like to meet with our police chief, city management and community leaders to address the shootings and the graffiti.