Rural and northern Arizona have been hit hard by COVID-19. Businesses have suffered under prolonged closures. A recent study on the fiscal impact to college towns identified Flagstaff as one of 11 small college towns likely to feel the brunt of the pandemic.
Children continue to be away from the classroom, making learning a challenge and increasing the burden on working parents.
Will rural and northern Arizona bounce back? Or be left behind? That depends in large part on the decisions we make this November.
There will be four candidates for state House on your November ballot. You will have the opportunity to choose two.
I’m a fifth generation Arizonan. As I like to say, my roots and boots are firmly planted in the rich red soil of Arizona. I have experience in both the private and public sector, which is necessary for a someone representing the interests of a diverse group of citizens. As a representative of this district from 2010-2018 and chair of the House Committee for Agriculture and Water, I had to frequently address the nitty gritty issues that affect farmers, growers, and the management of natural resources we all share. I led on legislation to ensure Arizonans in rural areas have access to safe drinking water. I also fought to end federal control of Arizona’s public lands. These decisions don’t necessarily make the alluring soundbites that capture attention, but they are the decisions that keep rural and northern Arizona running. I’ve always believed in being a workhorse — not a showhorse.
For our district to bounce back, we’ll need to make smart fiscal decisions, relieve the regulatory burden on small businesses, keep taxes low, get creative about making health care more accessible and affordable, and expand education opportunities. Walt Blackman and I have shown that these are the policies we’ll be fighting for. But what about our opponents?
Coral Evans’ time as a Flagstaff councilwoman and mayor have been marked by irresponsible decisions. Evans voted to raise property taxes three consecutive years (2017, 2018, and 2019), and supported local trash and stormwater utility fee increases impacting residents. When Flagstaff was thriving financially, she chose to fund “sustainability” and climate change instead of paying on the city’s public safety pension liability (for firefighters and police), which ballooned $27 million over five years. The result? After kicking the can down the road and making various attempts to raise the funds — from considering a ballot initiative to increase sales tax to mortgaging city assets — Flagstaff still owes $111 million. City Manager Greg Clifton expressed concern in February, saying the unfunded pension will “greatly constrain us on doing other things.” At a time when Flagstaff should be focused on its economy, job growth, and affordable housing, taxpayers face the continuing repercussions of Evans’ irresponsible leadership.
What about “independent” Art Babbott? Arizona voters should look past his “bipartisan” rhetoric. While he may pretend not to know who he’d side with if elected, his partisan leanings have been clear for some time. He is a decorated donor to the local Democratic Party and his support for Bernie Sanders is well-documented (he endorsed him for president in 2016 and introduced him at a rally that same year). It’s pretty obvious that the policies of Bernie Sanders and progressive Democrats are out of touch with the needs of rural and northern Arizona. Voters can expect Babbott to toe the Democratic policy-line right along with Evans if elected.
If we want our district to bounce back, we need proven leadership. When you vote, look beyond rhetoric to records. The choice will be clear.