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Jeff Oravits

JEFF_web_thumbCandidate for Flagstaff City Council


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

I am a 26 year resident of Flagstaff and small business owner that has employed and provide housing for people in Flagstaff for many years. My wife Angela and I met here in Flagstaff and have been married for 18 years. We have three children, 12, 7 and 4.

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?

Infrastructure has been a focus of mine for the past four years and will continue to be going forward. I lead the charge in increasing investment in our streets. I want to address traffic concerns by gaining greater control of the ADOT controlled corridors of Milton, 66 and 89. Those streets need more right turn lanes, limiting some left turns in very busy areas and traffic light synchronization. I would also like to see a new traffic corridor from JW Powell to South Fourth Street. The funding can be attained from existing sales tax and a higher share of HURF funds. I am also optimistic that the JW Powell to South Fourth Street corridor will help with some of our housing challenges by opening up this area for new housing opportunities. Housing is a major challenge in our community. Budgeting is also a major concern for me in that we continue the sensible budgeting we started four years ago. We’ve gone from budget shortfalls to surplusses and have beefed up our rainy day funds significantly. We must keep the sensible practices going forward and not fall back into the policies of the past that brought FLG so many budgetary problems.

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?

Since getting elected in 2012 I successfully got the city out of the speculative housing business and turned those operations over to Habitat for Humanity. Habitat is now doing what the City did for tens of thousands of dollars less per home. In the next four years I hope to revise, not eliminate, but revise the Historic Preservation Ordinance which is costing businesses many extra thousands of dollars and long delays. In fact, I’m open to reexamining any city code or policy that citizens and businesses bring to me that they feel is not having the desired outcome. Representatives should always be willing reexamine past decisions. As for what else should the city take on that it’s not doing already? I do not have anything on my list as far as new departments or services. Flagstaff offers a lot of services and I want to ensure we’re doing what we do the best we can.

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

I will continue to promote pro-business policies that foster business development. I successfully opposed expensive energy standards when first elected that would have added thousands to the cost of building in Flagstaff and I’ll oppose them again when they come up in the next several years. I have lead the charge in keeping property taxes low and as result we have not seen a property tax increase for five years running and I intend to continue this policy. I will continue to encourage businesses to relocate to Flagstaff, especially higher paying employers and I will oppose the mandated $15 minimum wage that’s being proposed.

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

I have been and will continue to be leading the way in opposition to this poorly conceived idea. This would be devastating to Flagstaff’s small businesses and I believe it will actually hurt those it is intended to help. We must foster an environment in which businesses can thrive so that they can create higher paying jobs and more opportunity.

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 have steered the city away from costly litigation over the past four years. Often times these lawsuits are already in progress and the City need not spend its limited resources on these very time consuming and costly issues.

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?

There’s a lot we can do but much of this is in the hands of the market and directly tied to the cost of land due to its scarcity. I will be pushing for a new corridor from JW Powell to S. Fourth Street to open that area up for more housing options. I will continue to push for infill by eliminating the burdensome need for more than one water meter for duplexes and triplexes. I will continue to look at costs due to regulations and continue to push for streamlined processes at City Hall.

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?

I have not seen this in the past four years. We’ve accepted some state gang task force grants but overall I am confident in our police force and their hometown methods of policing. Our Police Force is top notch and does a great job under some very difficult conditions.

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 enjoyed working with the community and Flagstaff Liberty Alliance in getting the Animal Keeping Ordinance passed. Local, self reliance is very important for our community and I will continue to advocate for this as well as policies and ordinances that promote self reliance.

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?

No. I have supported and opposed several non binding resolutions over the past four years. For the most part I’ve found these resolutions contentious and time consuming. I will no longer support non binding resolutions that are not directly related to a City issue. I am willing to support certain things and lobby our state and federal representatives as an individual council member and I find this to be more effective and appropriate.