1. In Flagstaff, our indigenous community has been marginalized for centuries. Nationally, there are efforts to limit the teaching of the histories of marginalized populations in the U.S. How would you ensure that Flagstaff is an inclusive and welcoming community and do you have ideas for how to include historically marginalized groups in local policy decisions?
I have proudly been a member of the Coconino County African Diaspora Advisory Council for several years, and as its current Chair likewise proudly partner with the other Tri-Diversity Councils to bring awareness to the unique concerns of historically marginalized groups in decisions and conversations impacting Coconino County. I would like to see Flagstaff similarly engage its various diverse cultural populations; we’ve taken important first steps with the Indigenous Council, the City’s partnership with the Lived Black Experience Project, and the Commission on Diversity Awareness. I have worked to increase collaborations between various groups representing the marginalized groups in our community, and would like to see Flagstaff deepen those relationships by collaboratively bringing such groups to each decision-making table, including placing emphasis on the need for diverse representation on all the various Boards and Commissions advising the Council.
2. Northern Arizona Healthcare is proposing to move Flagstaff’s hospital from the center of town to a new location near Fort Tuthill. Do you have any concerns about the impact of this move on the Flagstaff community? How will you approach NAH to ensure that all new construction is in line with the city’s carbon neutrality plan, including the utilization of clean energy sources? How will you ensure that the City is not burdened with expenses associated with the move, e.g., with the need for an additional bus line, emergency services, etc.?
I have engaged in various conversations, both with NAH and interested community members and organizations, regarding this project. My primary concern remains ensuring continued community engagement and input regarding the challenges presented by the proposed move: public transit, environmental impacts, opportunities to support various community needs with plans for both the new and former campus, etc. I plan to continue working for high levels of inclusive engagement in this process; it is vital that our community, and various community partners, have both buy-in and an ownership stake in ensuring the needs of the communities the wellness village is meant to serve are met. The “costs” of the new site extend beyond finances—including community infrastructure, fire adapted development, carbon neutrality, equitable access, etc.—and I bring these concerns to each conversation I have to ensure they remain front of mind as planning and negotiations continue.
3. Which state laws do you see as impediments to the city’s ability to craft appropriate regulations? Which of these would you prioritize as a target for the City’s lobbyist?
The first that come to mind are those impacting housing affordability, development, and zoning, and those that restrict our actions in terms of fire-impact and forest closures. In terms of housing, we need to prioritize petitioning at the state level for increased localized regulation of short-term and vacation rentals, and negotiating power to increase affordable housing in developments. While SB 1168 grants regulating authority to cities concerning STRs, SB 1350’s preemption law still exists, which leaves room to continue pushing for localized regulatory authority based on actual local impacts. As we saw in unique ways during this year’s wildfire and flooding seasons, state-level regulations prevented direct localized actions to preserve and protect forest lands surrounding Flagstaff; I would encourage increased ability for localized evaluation of fire risk to enforce forest closures and fire restrictions that align with our local realities.
4. The uncertainty of climate change impacts on Flagstaff’s water supply, coupled with projected growth means that the City is looking for additional sources of water for Flagstaff’s residents. What is your opinion of the Red Gap Ranch pipeline project and proposals to increase our drinking water supply with treated wastewater (indirect or direct potable reuse)? What do you believe is the best way to protect our water resources from contamination by compounds of emerging concern? How can the Flagstaff City Council ensure that growth does not impact an adequate and safe water supply for our population now and into the future?
Flagstaff needs to responsibly pursue a broad spectrum of water projects, to ensure we have numerous options rather than relying on any one source of future water needs; this includes pursuing research into direct and indirect potable reuse options. Reuse promotes long-term sustainability while also shoring up sustainable, durable supplies for water capacity. While I rely on the expertise and knowledge of our City’s Water Services team, I also feel responsible for actively learning about ways to conserve water while reducing runoff caused by the development and growth of our city, such as the EPA’s Smart Growth recommendations for water conservation, storm water management, and green infrastructure. In planning for strengthened infrastructure for water-smart growth, I also want to engage the local expertise of organizations such as the Flagstaff Water Group who lend both knowledge and increased accountability to pursuing water supply options while exercising caution and reducing risks regarding CECs.
5. The needs of the residents of Flagstaff are changing and will continue to do so as climate change impacts are felt locally. We face the disastrous cycle of severe wildfires (e.g., the Tunnel, Pipeline, and Museum fires) followed by devastating flooding. How should the City respond strategically, proactively, and equitably to predicted local impacts on our neighborhoods?
We can begin by continuing to lobby for federal funding to increase pre-fire treatments and mitigations. This includes trail maintenance, prescribed burns, mechanical treatments, and other preemptive actions to mitigate fire risk. We need to plan for increased flood mitigation measures such as increased staffing for debris clearance, and examining ways to mitigate erosion in both developed and undeveloped areas. Particularly with the impacts to Flagstaff’s natural watersheds during recent wildfire events, we should look toward developing artificial watersheds through the forest. This year’s wildfire season and flooding showed us that we need to plan for what in the past may have been unforeseeable impacts of fire and flooding events; we must push locally for state and federal entities to see that long-term investments for forest health, watershed infrastructure, and Firewise community development are necessary now.
6. The City has begun the “Visioning” (Phase II) of the Flagstaff Regional Plan 2045. This plan is mandated and is a policy guide focused on land use. The Regional Plan covers a range of topics with information on current conditions, the community’s vision for the future, and goals and policies to realize the future vision. What is your vision of the future of Flagstaff related to land use and development and what goals do you believe should be included in the Plan?
My vision for Flagstaff includes planning for responsible, sustainable, and equitable growth. With two publicly declared emergencies, planning must include goals that acknowledge and advance Flagstaff’s efforts for housing affordability and carbon neutrality/sustainability. I believe the Regional Plan should include goals for sustainable development that includes the incorporation of all housing types in all neighborhoods, mixed use development, and development that ensures resource preservation/conservation and sustainability practices. We must find ways to balance our goals and community needs, through development principals and policies that holistically approach our priorities rather than sacrificing one for another. Both the Plan and broader visions for Flagstaff’s future in terms of development must include strategies for adaptive reuse, walkability and infrastructure that supports multi-modal transit, and ensuring equitable access to community resources and spaces. We must also include fire-smart and broader conservation principals to minimize negative environmental impacts of development.