Candidate for Coconino County Board of Supervisors District 2
01. How long have you lived in Coconino County and how deep are your roots here?
First of all, thank you very much for developing this survey for all candidates to respond to. I appreciate your outreach to and interest in the candidates.
I have lived in Coconino County for 51 years – all my life. My family has lived in Coconino County for five generations. I am the 4th generation and my son is the 5th. My family first came to Coconino County and Flagstaff to work on the Railroad and in the Sawmills. As Flagstaff pioneers, they worked hard to help establish our mountain town. My great-grandmother was one of residents who led the effort and raised the money to build the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. My grandfather was one of the first business-owners in the Southside of Flagstaff. He built his own building on South San Francisco Street and opened “Everybody’s Market” – a small neighborhood market. That building still stands and has housed many businesses since. My parents live in Flagstaff and are small business owners and my siblings live here as well.
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?
As more and more people move to Coconino County we will continuously be faced with issues and decisions related to growth. We need to balance growth with protection of our natural resources and the environment that attracts residents and visitors to our community and the tourist economy. Due to the growth, the price of land continues to rise and that is pricing the next generations of Flagstaff residents from living in the community they grew up in. For example, very few of the friends I grew up with in Flagstaff still live here. The reasons they cite is lack of high-paying jobs and cost of living/housing. I will continue to advocate for cottage industries/home-based business, employment and skill-development/training programs, youth employment programs, and promoting public-private partnerships that result in employment opportunities.
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. The county continues to provide services that are basic to the function and purpose of counties. Several of the services the county provides are mandated by the State of Arizona. Those services that are not mandated are based on the needs of our communities and reflect the priorities of our residents, while maintaining a balanced budget now and over the long-term.
04. Recognizing that when businesses thrive, our community thrives, what are your plans to create an environment that businesses can grow in?
This is very important. I’m very proud of the public-private partnerships that our county has such as Flag Extreme, the Pepsi Amphitheater, the North Pole Experience and a Snow Play Recreation Partnership in the future. I am also proud of the cultural shift in our Community Development department where customer-service is a priority and processes are being reviewed to make them more business-friendly.
There are other ways the county helps businesses thrive. We have a small business development program within the Community Services department where we educate residents on how to create a business plan and develop a small business. We have Individual Development Accounts for people who want to save money to start a business. Another example of how the county helps businesses thrive is ensuring we have quality public roads and infrastructure to support commerce.
We need to periodically review our processes and ordinances to determine the impact on business.
05. What are your feelings about mandating a living wage and how do you think it will impact local businesses and the County?
Frankly, I’m torn on this issue. In my district, I have many families who work multiple jobs just to “make it” in Flagstaff. The high cost of living creates the need for an increase in wages and at the same time we do not want to see businesses fail and jobs lost because of the increase in costs.
What we really need to do is have a conversation about cost – the real cost. The financial costs and the societal costs. There is a cost to not having a living wage that impacts government and our community. For example, there is a cost to our educational system and our society when a child goes to school hungry and cannot focus on learning. There is a cost to our society when parents need to work two jobs and cannot be with their family.
The conversation should also include other benefits or costs an employer may cover such like health insurance, benefits, vacation, and not just wages although wages are very important.
I believe we need to move the needle on this issue and increase wages to address the high cost of living in our area. More importantly what needs to be discussed is the approach – should it be incremental or immediate. And we need to hear from everyone on this issue: small businesses, corporations, government, non-profits and residents.
06. Should the County spend tax dollars to sue the State or Federal government when they pass laws the County does not agree with?
I believe the County should have the right to do so. It, of course, depends on the issue and the impact and/or repercussion of the federal or state law on the county.
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?
One step we have taken in this regard is to allow “mother-in-laws” quarters to be rented. This will open up affordable housing options that did not exist and provide opportunities for homeowners to obtain rental income. We need to do more. However, unlike cities, counties are limited by state statute in what they can offer developers to incentivize affordable housing.
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 am very proud of the community approach of our Sheriff and the Sheriff’s department. The Sheriff’s department operates from a community policing point of view and public trust is priority. Every month in my district, the Sheriff and I host Neighborhood Watch Meetings where we come together as a community so that neighbor can meet neighbor and work collaboratively with the Sheriff’s Office and deputies in a community policing model.
I do not see the need for military equipment. There would need to be much public discussion before considering the acceptance of that type of grant.
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?
I am very supportive of the code. I absolutely believe it is important to promote and encourage local food and urban farming in Coconino County. It promotes self-sufficiency and honors the long history we have of living off the land. In addition, growing your own fresh food can be healthier and reduce a family’s health cost and food costs too. Twenty years ago, I started the first community garden at Killip Elementary School where residents could plant vegetables and the kids could work alongside and learn about the importance of growing and eating their own food. Now the kids at Killip plant the garden, harvest and cook the vegetables and save seeds for planting the following season. Since then, I have provided funding and assistance for several more community gardens in my district.
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?
I believe resolutions are very important. The resolutions communicate information, county values, and positions on certain issues. In determining whether to support a resolution, I look for the county nexus and work to communicate how the issue or matter is important to Coconino County.