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Miranda Sweet

What three attributes do you consider Flagstaff’s greatest assets and why?
Flagstaff offers a unique and diverse community. Our city is lucky to have cultures represented from so many diverse areas. My boys attended Puente de Hozho, a trilingual school that celebrated cultures from around the world. I see that same celebration in our Flagstaff community. We are lucky to have Flagstaff so entrenched in science and art, officially becoming a STEAM city. Flagstaff has 3,000 acres of legally designated open space properties that help our city retain character. These properties protect our region with ecological health while supporting economic development, while preserving our historic and cultural resources.

What government strategies and policies, if any, do you believe can address Flagstaff’s high cost of living and unaffordability?
The struggle with affordability has been a longstanding conversation with Flagstaff residents. We have a 15% higher cost of living than the national average. One of the biggest influences on the cost of living is housing. Right now we have a large gap in obtainable workforce housing. The city has housing partnerships in place like Housing Solutions, and we also have a newly formed housing commission. As Flagstaff continues to grow it will be crucial that we work with these partnerships. Affordable housing needs to be incentivized differently if we want to see more of it.

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?
Flagstaff is experiencing growing pains. The High Occupancy Housing Plan outlines our goals and policies and can influence new housing developments. Our state has a robust private property law with Prop 207, making it difficult to downzone parcels. Flagstaff has decided to grow up and not out which helps promote multimodal transportation, while increasing the types of households, all while promoting sustainability and affordability. Building HOH buildings will need to be in the right place, built to the right scale, and have the right features for residents to have the support of Flagstaff residents.

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 have always put an importance on saving our environment for not only now but our future generations. My family decided to go solar with an understanding that renewable energy was important not only for today but our future generations. Solar and wind dominate growth in renewable energy and it is up to our local, state,and federal entities to ensure we have the resources to transition to renewable energy. Communities need incentives to increase options for all households. Carbon neutrality by 2030 is a lofty goal and it will take our city to lead by example.

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?
Water is a crucial resource regardless if it is potable or reclaimed. With our changing climate and growing demand we need to rethink our strategies to ensure we have clean water for our future generations. Communities are incorporating reclaimed water because it is cost effective, environmentally sound, safe, reliable, and locally controlled. Focusing attention on reclaimed water will ensure that Flagstaff is not beholden to nature or neighbors for our water supply. I believe the time is now to treat reclaimed water as a valuable source for now and and our future.

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?
I agree with the tiered water fee system for residential customers. I would like to see the implementation of tiered fees regarding commercial and industrial customers. Increased fees that hit the pocketbook will translate into better water saving behaviors. The water fees help us in conservation efforts that can guide our community into delaying a possible 40 mile pipeline from Red Gap Ranch. There are challenges setting equitable fees in the commercial and industrial setting, but there is no question that the 65% of water customers need to be included in the effort to conserve 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?
As a small business owner I may have a different perspective on the minimum wage. I have grappled with how I will make minimum wage work for my business. I have had to pivot, remain flexible, and think outside the box regarding COVID-19 and now a substantial minimum wage increase that will be hitting us in January. I respect the voters decision on the wage increase and will work to not only honor the increase, but will celebrate it. I hope to remain a business leader working with others to help navigate the new wage increase.

What, if anything, do you believe the City ought to do to support and protect undocumented residents?
I believe it is part of our moral compass to support and protect undocumented residents. All members of our community should have a path to citizenship and our police should not be actively seeking to stop that journey. Noone should be afraid to be part of Flagstaff. Undocumented community members are an important part of our economy and work for unfair wages, endure descrimination, and fear family separation in the hopes to continue living in Flagstaff. I would like to see an inclusive and kind community for all.

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?
The conversation surrounding changing the culture of policing in Flagstaff remains crucial and gives us an opportunity to learn how to do things better. I believe that our community strives for a deeply engaged environment and wants to see our citizens come together in problem solving while participating in these tough conversations. Our community is looking at a political shift in our police force and looking at our intervention programs. I see the value of reaching out to the public and beginning these hard, yet important conversations. There is always room for improvement.

What are your three greatest concerns regarding Flagstaff’s future and what steps should we take to help address them?
It was difficult to narrow down our concerns surrounding Flagstaff’s future. I appreciate our Climate Emergency declaration as it gives us a roadmap on how to become carbon neutral by a target date of 2030. Small business remains close to my heart and with the uncertainty of COVID-19, it will be more crucial now to support our small businesses. One of the reasons we find Flagstaff so attractive is our unique and local character. The high cost of living affects Flagstaff on so many levels and is something we need to continually work to address.