Candidate for Flagstaff City Council
01. How long have you lived in Flagstaff and how deep are your roots here?
I have lived in Flagstaff since 2005. I graduated from NAU with a degree in High School Special Education, another in Business and Technology Education and a minor in Business. Although I was not born here, as an NAU alumn I feel very connected and deeply rooted. Flagstaff is home to me.
02. What is the biggest problem facing Flagstaff? If elected what will you do to address this problem and how will you pay for your solution?
One of the most important issues Flagstaff faces is the lack of civic engagement and low voter turnout. Local politics offers the greatest ability to create change and is therefore very important. Disconnection from our local representatives needs to change for true democracy to thrive. My top goal as a Council Member is to encourage a culture of engaged citizens. My efforts leading “Speak Up: Bridging the Gap between Local People and Local Politics” for two years has encouraged me to continue to pursue this passion. Speak Up helped our community by engaging people with their representatives but it was only a start. If we engage regularly in local government we would elect representatives who listen to the community and make decisions guided by their input.
03. Is there anything the City of Flagstaff is currently doing that you feel goes beyond the proper role of City government? Are there services you feel the City should provide that it is not providing already?
The role of our City is to maintain the health, safety and welfare of Flagstaff’s residents and provide a vision for our Town’s future. From what I have experienced, I do not feel like the City is overstepping its role. I do feel though that there are services and issues the City needs to address that are not currently being addressed adequately. These include youth empowerment & education through establishing a youth commission, increasing civic engagement outreach, providing cultural sensitivity training, providing guidance to developers on the kind of development that will benefit our town while still maintaining its unique character and historic neighborhoods, and creating a stronger plan to mitigate climate change at the local level.
04. Recognizing that when businesses thrive, our community thrives, what are your plans to create an environment that businesses can grow in?
While I agree with the general sentiment of the sentence above I think it’s important to clarify what type of businesses help a community thrive. Studies show that local businesses keep the majority of dollars in the community and reflect the community’s core values. I would like to support local businesses and help to foster them. As a small local business owner myself, my plans include first and foremost examining the policies and actions that lie squarely within our powers such as revisiting purchasing policies and looking at existing and potentially new incentives. In addition, I believe strong leadership and personal example is key. As an elected official I will attend and support events that showcase local businesses such as openings of new businesses, co-working spaces and accelerators, and more.
05. What are your feelings about mandating a living wage and how do you think it will impact local businesses and the City?
I support civic engagement and community decision making. In addition, I do believe that Flagstaff, as a community needs to address the harsh reality that comes with a “Poverty with a View”. The minimum wage increase to $15 an hour over 5 years is a voter initiative that will be on the ballot this coming november, and is therefore a community approach to finding solutions, not a mandated City ordinance. If it passes, I believe businesses will have to go through a gradual change, allowing them enough time and providing support for them to adjust.
06. Should the City spend tax dollars to sue the State or Federal government when they pass laws the City does not agree with?
I am not opposed to seeing the City work to sue or support a lawsuit in place in response to a State or Federal government decision. We have witnessed the state overstep its role and make decisions that we, the city of Flagstaff should have the right to decide.
07. Polls show that the cost of housing is a big concern for Flagstaff residents. Is there anything the City should be doing to foster more affordable housing in town?
I would like to see the city look into and create policies and incentives for developers to integrate low income housing into their site plans. In addition, in the near future, I would like to examine the possibility of partnership to build small homes on City lands through a pilot project.
08. How do you respond to concerns about Flagstaff’s police becoming militarized? Would you vote to accept DHS and other grants to provide military equipment to the Flagstaff Police Department?
Our police force should reflect our community. On the national level we have a serious issue regarding violence towards and by our police force. Instead of simply arming Flagstaff police with military style weapons which in turn can create a more violence prone environment, i would like to see more funding going to support sensitivity training, trust building, and emotional support for police officers.
09. What are your thoughts on the recently passed Animal Keeping Ordinance? Do you think it is important to promote and encourage local food and urban farming in Flagstaff?
I support and applaud the recent changes to the Animal Keeping Ordinance. I believe the new changes can improve urban farming and support self reliance by allowing more food producing animals such as goats to be kept within City limits, relaxing the constraints on other animals such as chicken and beekeeping. As a regular supporter at the Flagstaff Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) I support local food production and urban farming through good policies that promote these practices while ensuring quality and honesty.
10. How important do you think symbolic non-binding resolutions are to conducting the business of the City? Should the council spend time and resources addressing these issues?
Non-Binding resolutions can be an important part of civic engagement and discourse. They provide an opportunity for elected officials to publicly air the concerns and interests of their constituents and allow local jurisdictions an avenue to express their unique characteristics and values. In addition, symbolism does not equal “meaningless”. Issues that otherwise might remain incoherent and confused can be given meaning and expression through a resolution. While non-binding, resolutions can have an invaluable influence on behaviours and other related decisions.