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Art Babbott

art babbott_webCandidate for Coconino County Board of Supervisors District 1

01. How long have you lived in Coconino County and how deep are your roots here?
18 years.

02. What is the biggest problem facing Coconino County? If elected what will you do to address this problem and how will you pay for your solution?

The biggest long term problem facing Coconino County is that lower, moderate and middle income residents and families are being squeezed between the very high cost of living and low wage base employment opportunities. As a result, many in our area are being priced out of their own communities. Creating opportunities, educational and social service support, job training, engaging in permanent affordable housing opportunities and advocating for raising minimum wage are all areas I have, and will continue to, been engaged in to help create a place where people of all income levels and backgrounds can live and prosper.

03. Is there anything the County is currently doing that you feel goes beyond the proper role of County government? Are there services you feel the County should provide that it is not providing already?

No. I feel like the services and programs we offer reflect our priorities and fiscal realities. Coconino County has a structurally balanced 10 year budget.

04. Recognizing that when businesses thrive, our community thrives, what are your plans to create an environment that businesses can grow in?

I am small business owner and in general we have a climate that allows business to thrive. However, ensuring that our regulatory culture and documents – like the zoning code- engender, as opposed to inhibit, our economic development policies is critical to successful regional economic development initiatives. Our economic development policies must be focused on the areas that diversify our economy and pay wages which allow working people to stay in our community.

05. What are you feelings about mandating a living wage and how do you think it will impact local businesses and the County?

With close to half of youth in rural Coconino County living below the poverty line and poverty rates increasing significantly even though Wall Street sees record stock market profits, we must have a strategy that seeks to mitigate the loss of middle and moderate income families in our region. The median household income in Coconino County was lower in 2013 than it was in 1990, poverty is increasing significantly and wealth continues to be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer. These trends are not in the long term interests of our County. We must engage in a community conversation regarding wages, the impacts on small businesses and cost of not raising the minimum wage. As a small business owner who has made large employee payrolls, I believe very strongly that the minimum wage needs to be raised.

06. Should the County spend tax dollars to sue the State or Federal government when they pass laws the County does not agree with?

Yes. The corporate and ideological interests running our State government have consistently disregarded voters’ wishes and they absolutely have earned the right to be held accountable for their actions. Political corruption has turned into an Olympic sport in Arizona (Arizona was tied with New Jersey as the most politically corrupt state in the Nation in a recent survey) and it is perfectly appropriate to hold State government accountable for being bought and paid for by special interests.

07. Polls show that the cost of housing is a big concern for Flagstaff residents. Is there anything the County should be doing to foster more affordable housing?

Coconino County needs to become more active and engaged in supporting housing strategies which are based on deed restricted, permanent long term affordability. The speculative real estate market does not, and will not, produce options for long term permanent housing that meets the needs of lower and moderate income working families. We cannot talk about housing affordability in Coconino County without talking about the minimum wage.

08. How do you respond to concerns about the Sheriff’s department becoming militarized? Would you vote to accept DHS and other grants to provide military equipment to the Sheriff’s department?

I do have concerns regarding the militarization of law enforcement and yes, we need to be very thoughtful and cautious about the type of equipment we receive from the federal government. I have confidence in our Sherriff to focus on an outcome oriented, holistic approach to law enforcement that prioritizes our efforts social and educational development of individuals and families and not on incarceration.

09. What are your thoughts on the recently passed Animal Keeping code? Do you think it is important to promote and encourage local food and urban farming in Coconino County?

Yes! I led this initiative at the County and appreciate the support the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance provided in this effort!

10. How important do you think symbolic nonbinding resolutions are to conducting the business of the County? Should the County Board spend time and resources addressing these issues?

They are important and we absolutely should consider Resolutions relating to larger policy issues.