Jamie Whelan

What is your vision for Flagstaff’s future in regard to issues of growth and development? What changes to codes and plans would you like to see, if any, to enact your vision?

Flagstaff’s future is a place where everyone is welcome and those who want to live here can afford to live here. A city that offers a multitude of jobs that pay a livable wage. A community that prioritizes a high quality of life, supports science, technology, education, and arts for all. A city where sustainability is threaded through every decision, supports multi-modal transportation, and environmental health are celebrated and honored. A city that showcases diversity and celebrates all those who played a historical role. I look forward to working with Council to pass codes that foster that vision.

Are there any development projects built or approved over the last 10 years that you would have preferred the City not move forward with and why?

In 2004 we faced the question of unchecked sprawl. It seemed to be either we developed the city to its limits, or we protected our open spaces, creating a community that was walkable, bikeable, and offered a strong transit system. We, as a community, decided to increase density, form activity centers, and keep density within those centers. The HUB showed us we had a loophole. High density in historic neighborhoods needed to be stopped. Since I joined the Council, it has slowly and methodically taken steps to protect our historic neighborhoods and has moved HOH to those areas.

Now that the City has updated the 2018 Building Code, what further changes do you think need to be made in our codes to achieve the goals of our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan?

Not only have we adopted the CAAP, but we have just declared a Climate Emergency which revises the previous goal of reaching 80% carbon neutrality by 2050 and changes the CAAP to make Flagstaff carbon neutral by 2030. We have allocated $8M to the CAAP, we have pulled sustainability into the City Manager’s Office under his direct supervision. We have incentivized the purchase of electric vehicles in Flagstaff and supported a Downtown Visioning Plan that will recommend changes in our downtown area for walking, biking, transit, and business.

What are some of your strategies for promoting Flagstaff’s economic recovery from the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic?

The City began planning for a downturn over a year ago by focusing on the small business sector – the family owned and operated businesses that are the fabric and backbone of our city. We do this by protecting our workers, incentivizing small business growth, and offering support and guidance through this pandemic. We work alongside the County to make this happen. We require a strong economic marketing drive to bring medical, science, high-tech businesses, cyber security, research institutions and engineering to our community. We have already begun this to strengthen our city. We must continue to diversify our economy.

What are your spending priorities for the General Fund? What changes would you like to see to the existing allocation of resources?

I led the move to priority-base budgeting and look forward to guiding our community and our Council through this process. This year will have strong community outreach in defining our goals and spending priorities. We need to be poised for greater focus on social and institutional review (and change) when it comes to our City services aligning with community voices. We will do this through the budget process. We must ensure that the State continues to pay us our full amount of shared revenues and focus on economic stability for our region by support and attracting small businesses.

What is your preferred method for increasing City revenue?

We need to diversify our revenue streams, reallocate expenditures based on community direction by the priority-based budgeting process, and strengthen our commitment to build strong businesses with reduced environmental footprints. We need to support our small businesses in growing entrepreneurship and create new business attraction policies. We will continue to monitor and advocate for our State shared revenues to make sure they are being returned to our City in an accurate and timely manner.

What government strategies and policies do you believe can address Flagstaff’s high cost of living and unaffordability?

I will continue to work to make Flagstaff a place that everyone can afford to live and prosper. It is time that our community commits to supporting and growing our current housing programs and create new ones. We find solutions in rapid housing programs, retrofitting existing low-income housing to increase density, increase inventory of housing, decrease rent by increasing inventory, use tax credits to build, increase rental assistance and focusing CDBG funding on housing. Looking at the use of development fees for parks and recreation and reallocating a percentage of BBB funds for housing (that would take a community conversation).

As Flagstaff grows and its reclaimed water capacity increases, for what uses, outside of landscape irrigating, do you think this water should be allocated to replace potable water?

We have moved beyond this conversation. Our reclaimed water is not currently increasing. We are #1 in the state for water conservation and that means we are reducing water use, which means we are reducing the supply of reclaimed. We continue this current course and begin ONE WATER. The Council has just approved a new Master Plan which includes this idea of “one water” which will determine how water will support a sustainable Flagstaff. This data will help set policy when it comes to the best use of all water in commercial development, industrial development, and residential development.

State preemption laws have tied the hands of City Council on several issues. What is your approach for dealing with these restrictions when they conflict with the City Council’s decisions and the will of the Flagstaff community?

I have been a strong supporter of retaining local control and power. Local government must have the power to make decisions for our community. I will work with the Arizona League of Cities and Towns for the protection of local governance and Home Rule. Senate Bill 1487, passed in 2016, allows the state to withhold shared revenue from cities and towns if they are found by the Attorney General to have violated a state law. The perceived threat is that we as a city must follow state law first or we may not receive our state shared revenues.

Flagstaff voters twice approved an increase in the local minimum wage, including the elimination of the sub-minimum wage for servers. What can the city do to ensure that this initiative is successfully implemented? What strategies do you have for addressing some of the concerns related to this initiative?

The Minimum Wage Act, (Initiative Ord. 2016-01 – Proposition 414), was voter approved on November 28, 2016. It is no longer an initiative. It is a law. The City Manager’s Office is responsible for implementing and enforcing the Ordinance and has designated responsibilities for implementation and enforcement to the Office of Labor Standards. I propose having regular meetings with the local business chamber, workforce placement agencies and other stakeholders to monitor how the increase in minimum wage is affecting our community overall.

Do you believe the City of Flagstaff has an obligation to support and protect our undocumented residents?

I believe we have the obligation to represent all people who live in our city. If an individual lives within the city of Flagstaff, they deserve support and protection. No one should ever be afraid to live within our community.

In light of the recent national protests against racism and police violence, many people are calling for reimagining the role of policing in our communities. How do you envision applying this to Flagstaff especially in relation to our Native American residents and other people of color.

We have the responsibility to bring all voices forward. We will do this through our priority base budgeting process. We have begun to implement the strategic plan given to us by our indigenous community through the Indigenous Circle of Flagstaff and it is time that our historic black community comes together to tell the lived black experience. Black Lives Matter, action items need to be defined, the cultural/racial concerns from our indigenous community, and the fair/equitable treatment of our Hispanic communities and businesses also need to be addressed. We become more resilient in our actions and stronger in our convictions.

Are you satisfied with the role local elected officials have played protecting and educating the public about the Coronavirus? What more would you like to see done on the local level?

There will always be more to accomplish to protect and educate our community not just from Covid-19, but in general. Jurisdictional authority of the AZ State Health Department has hampered county and local response. I supported the informational section on our City website regarding Covid. I attend weekly Covid-19 update meetings with Northern Arizona Healthcare and the County Health Department and share on FB with our community. We have been tasked with improving communication with our community at the city and will continue to do better for those we serve.