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Jamie Whelan

Jamie WhelanCandidate for Flagstaff City Council


01. How long have you lived in Flagstaff and how deep are your roots here?

I have lived in Flagstaff for over 26 years. Yes, I have deep roots here. When I first moved here I worked with the Hozhoni Foundation as a program coordinator and then director of residential services, I then started my own interior and exterior painting company and joined it with another company and we began to work with most of the apartment complexes in town to offer housekeeping, painting and carpet cleaning services for those apartments that were vacated (turn overs). I did that for several years but missed teaching. I returned to teaching, my first classroom was in the bottom of the Episcopal Church with students with severe behavior and emotional disabilities then moving to FUSD and teaching at Project TIA , again teaching students with behavior challenges. I then transferred Sinagua High School were I taught resource math. I was teaching in Flagstaff Unified School District for approximately 11 years. I have been at Northern Arizona University as a senior lecturer in the College of Education, Educational Specialties for over 12 years. There I coordinated the Praxis Partnership Program working with college students who want to teach students with exceptionalities and elementary education. Two years ago I went to part time at NAU. I am a small business owner and own the Old Town Creperie off of Heritage Square. We work the Sunday Community markets and the Saturday Urban Markets.

The reason I bring up my work experience is to illustrate the “depth” of my connection to this town and to its people. I have a broad, inclusive and diverse community.

I was married here, I have raised my children here and become a grandma here. I am a hospice volunteer and I am an advocate for students and parents who are trying to make sense of special education and their right to services. I have received Teacher of the Year Award at the College of Education, NAU and was honored by the City of Flagstaff’s Commission on Disabilities as Educator of the Year.
Deep roots… yes very deep.

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?

Many in Flagstaff—including some candidates—agree that development, traffic, high paying jobs, affordable housing, and open space protection are our most important issues. I agree. The crux of our problems isn’t identifying what our problems are, but how ineffectively Council works together and with community members to create solutions. Attend City Council meetings, watch online, or read this paper and you’ll know that the Councilmembers running for reelection aren’t listening to your average Flagstaff citizen. These candidates favor “business as usual”.

I will listen to all citizens and consider all perspectives and points of view—including those that differ from my own. The Councilmembers running for reelection have failed to plan ahead, to listen to the citizens of Flagstaff, and to retain your trust. It is time to change how we do business on the Flagstaff City Council and I hope that you’ll vote for me to be a part of this change.
What will it cost to solve… nothing but it will take voters to vote.

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?

As a member of the community I unfortunately do not yet know ALL the services that the city offers and to what extent those services are deployed. I am sure that like any other agency, business or even classroom there is a need to consistently monitor and adjust and sometimes even drop services when needed. I believe that we all are a part of that process… community members, city staff and council. I will support the process of collecting as much data and information as needed from various stakeholders, reflect upon that data, make recommendations based on that data and take action when needed.

I believe it is part of the democratic and collaborative process to determine what “goes beyond the proper role of City government”.

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

I believe that we already have that environment where businesses thrive and that is why we see that growth and development is one of the major concerns for the citizens in Flagstaff. I do believe that there are areas we could improve upon that expedite the process of opening a small business and we must support those owners to be successful. Most agree that growth is inevitable, It is not the growth that people are afraid of, but impacts of that growth. That is why we need a council with the skills to collaborate and negotiate with each other and the stakeholders of our city. There does not need to be this idea of good guys and bad guys. Managed growth will give us the means to keep people and families here, to provide them with a livable wage, affordable housing, educational and training opportunities and work. Most important we must be careful not to lose the character of our community. Flagstaff is a special place and we must protect the things that make it special.

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

Again, I must go back to the process of first collecting as much data and information as we can before making that decision to mandate a living wage. The discussion must involve the various stakeholders. We then discuss and reflect upon what will work for all involved… community members, business owners, workers, city staff. Once we understand the impacts, then we make recommendations based on that information and take action. I do not believe that ‘one hourly wage’ will fit and benefit all workers and all businesses. We must have that dialogue with all the stakeholders to understand the problem and implement the solution. Everyone who works deserves to make a living wage and we need a multi-faceted approach to finding the solution.

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 would need to answer this on a case by case basis. Due process is a right that is important to me as an individual and I would imagine to our city.
I cannot give a yes/no answer to this question.

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?

Let me answer this question by sharing my own experience. I was not able to afford to buy a home in Flagstaff. I could make the mortgage payment each month but being a teacher and at that time Laura Anne was working at the coffee house, we earned enough monthly income but we could not save for the down payment… There was a city run program that offered the down if we bought with city limits. We would not own a house today if that program did not exist 20 years ago.

As I walk around our neighborhoods I hear the same story over and over. I am not sure what or who ran that program but it changed our lives! If there are things that we as a city could do to support our people and families to afford rent and/or buying a home… I would support that process. We must look at all the options, evaluate the cost and implement workable, affordable plans. We are not the only city that faces this challenge perhaps we can learn from other plans in other cities.

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?

Do I believe that law enforcement needs to be outfitted with the proper equipment to keep them and the citizen of Flagstaff safe, absolutely.

My answer though is based on a continuum of services and equipment based on demonstrated need. A collaborative, inclusive and democratic process must determine that need.

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?

Absolutely. I believe that ordinance NO. 2015-17 was well written but like all ordinances we might find that over time changes might need to be made. Time will tell.

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?

When given the opportunity I believe the city has the right and obligation to support resolutions that align with Flagstaff’s Vision Statement and Mission Statement.