“The only thing constant is change.” Some people embrace it and others fight it, but it is inevitable.
The Town of Payson voted for change when they elected me as mayor along with two new council members.
One of the first things I did was to instill a change in attitude and direction at town hall that better reflects my long-held mantra that “we work for the people of Payson.” It is their dime, not ours. This meant we must listen to the individuals, businesses and community groups to look for resolutions to problems, and opportunities to prosper. The entrenched first reaction of “no” no longer has a place here.
My business card contains my cell phone number. My office is always open. I have instituted “open mic” sessions and “coffee with the mayor” meetings for the sole purpose of being as accessible as possible to the people of Payson. This format gives me the freedom to interact with all citizens regarding what is most important to them. It’s the little things that matter. It might be a lighting issue, flooding, neighbor disputes or speeders on our quiet streets.
If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.
Bigger issues were brought to my attention as well. For example, a long-term healthy relationship was restored with the tribe when we negotiated a fair and equitable water settlement which had been stalled for years.
One of my platform promises was to use the high-level state and national contacts I have to find help for Payson as needs arise. I was able to get ADOT to Payson very quickly during the severe storm we experienced in February. I was invited to testify on our behalf to restore funding for the Lion Springs Road widening project, which is a matter of grave safety to our residents and visitors.
Speeding through town streets has been an ongoing problem and I have been able to engage the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for help with this.
We have received two new flashing speed advisement/warning digital signs that are being placed on Forest Drive at no cost to the town. More are on the way for other parts of Payson.
Most recently, I was able to get a quick response from the governor’s office to resolve the cut back on school bus routes, even though the town has no direct authority over this issue. A team of state officials is scheduled to arrive within the next couple of weeks to review the funding classification which led to this problem.
Although we are still working on the internet issue, we had a terrific break with APS just announcing their intention to run a critical line from the Valley to Payson, solving a long-term problem without town funding. A line of communication was established with a contact at the Department of Agriculture in Washington to obtain qualified funding for rural towns.
On a local basis, I have formed citizen committees such as the Green Valley Parkway Extension Committee to begin the review and construction of the badly needed road which will link State Route 87 around the rodeo grounds to Green Valley Park. This creates another evacuation route for our west side citizens.
I also encouraged a citizen committee to study and propose a splash pad playground for the children and families which will be operational by next summer.
As members of various town committees term out, and as vacancies occur, I am placing different and quality people for a “fresh eyes” approach. This is a normal function of the mayor’s office.
We successfully implemented a new salary program which created parity and a better merit rating system. Overdue raises went to first responders and town maintenance and other clerical positions. We now have a line-item budget review as part of the zero-base budgeting process which has helped to more accurately appropriate funds. We also instituted an oversight policy for the use of town credit cards.
We now have a Disaster Emergency Food Plan in place because of the effort of a town volunteer. We are revisiting emergency evacuation routes plans to educate the town on how best to act in the event of a catastrophic fire.
We are now part of the recently formed Gila County Homelessness Task Force which is working not only to address the immediate problems of the homeless but also on the long-term prevention of homelessness.
I have been involved in several other new and existing efforts to move Payson into a healthy and vibrant, citizen-directed town. I believe I have been responsive to needs and concerns. It is my honor to serve as the mayor and I am humbled by the support I am receiving. I look forward to continuing this effort.