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Karla Brewster

KarlaCandidate for Flagstaff City Council

http://www.karlabrewster.com/

01. How long have you lived in Flagstaff and how deep are your roots here?
I have lived here for 18 years. My family came here from Glendale, AZ to escape the ‘big’ city problems and atmosphere. My son graduated from middle school, Sinagua High School, and got 2 degrees from NAU – BA and MA in Education. I am fully ‘vested’ in Flagstaff.

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?

Managing growth and the related growth problems – like more traffic, lack of affordable housing, lack of infrastructure for new housing and new businesses. Not encouraging businesses and development would be a mistake; the city needs to help develop infrastructure in areas where growth needs to be or businesses need to be. Many businesses won’t locate here if they have to build everything from the infrastructure up. We need to set aside funding for this, like for a business park.

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?

This is hard for me to answer, not being in business. I’m not aware of anything being done that goes beyond the city’s proper role. I know many of the permits that are required are connected with life, and safely issues. I’m sure there might be something that goes beyond the proper role of government, but I am not aware of it. Conversely, I am not aware of any services the city should be providing and is not providing.

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

Be aware of the ‘little’ things that discourage business growth – too many fees to do business, too many permits or too expensive ones, unreasonable renewals fees. I am not a business owner to know the exact specifics, but overall, I think we have tried to lessen some of these burdens on business owners. We need to advertise that Flagstaff is open for business.

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

Any increase in wages should be decided by the business owner and the market. I do believe in having a ‘bottom line’, which we do through the state minimum wage, but to mandate one at the city level is not a function that we should do. In the end, you actually hurt the employees that you are trying to help (those at the bottom of the wage scale), as a mandated wage has the possibility of putting businesses out of business if they are already struggling. Jobs may be cut to allow that business owner to make the upgraded wage available to employees who have been there longer. Bottom line – it definitely has an adverse impact on smaller businesses and/or those that are struggling. The other impact is that most businesses who sell goods and services will pass on any increase in wages to the consumer – just what we need – making Flagstaff even more expensive to live here.

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

No, unless the law(s) prevents us from serving our community in some way.

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?

The city doesn’t dictate what the developers charge for their housing as they are here to make a profit. What can and is being done is to negotiate a certain percentage of their developments to be less costly so those that are in the workforce can afford them (not section 8 housing). Right now, there is a group of our larger businesses (FMC, Nestle-Purina, Joy Cone, WL Gore, NAU and some others) that are looking at what they can do as a collaborative to help their employees find workforce housing and also the developers realize there is a market for these homes. ECoNA through Rich Bowen started this conversation before he was pulled back to NAU.

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?

No, I would not vote for this, not without some very good rationale as to why we need to become militarized. I would depend heavily on Chief Treadway’s reasons for this change if it came up; I consider him to be a chief that is ‘hands on’ before he makes decisions and always has the best interest of the community in mind before he makes decisions. I have never seen him to be reactionary, but always calm in his decisions, with plenty of back up rationale to the decision.

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?

At first I was not a big fan of this ordinance, but, in hearing how many were so glad to have it so they could keep some animals for their food sources, I see a different side to this. As long as the ordinance is followed, and neighbors are not affected, I believe that local food and urban farming should be encouraged.

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?

We should not spend time and resources on these resolutions, if it is only to make a statement. E-mails and other communications can do that. I would make an exception if the nonbinding resolution directly affected how we did business or addressed an issue that affected a long-standing problem.