Regina Salas for City Council

 

PRIORITIES: What three specific issues will you bring forward to the City Council if you are elected (What are your three main priorities)?

  • Economic/community vitality
  • Small business and local nonprofits
  • Open space, natural areas, dark skies
 

CITY COUNCIL CRITIQUE: Among City Council decisions in last 24 months, what is one decision that you support and one that you were disappointed with and why?

I support the overall goals listed for 2017-2019 Flagstaff City Council: economic development, transportation and public infrastructure, building and zoning/regional plan, affordable housing, water conservation, environmental and natural resources, personnel, social justice, community outreach, town and gown, code compliance and climate change. I believe these goals are relevant to Flagstaff and its residents. I respect the incumbent City Council’s decision to set these goals as well as staff’s management abilities to implement them. It should be noted that there are goals that encompass state and federal legislative actions, e.g. combat climate change, that are stipulated in the City’s Intergovernmental Relations Program’s legislative initiatives at the county, state and federal levels.

 

EXPERIENCE WITH CITY GOVERNMENT: Please describe your experience serving on City boards, commissions, or task forces and describe your involvement so far in shaping City-level policies.

My work experience with Coconino County included working with Parks & Recreation Commission. As outreach coordinator, I was directly involved in public process developing the 2009 Coconino County Parks & Recreation Master Plan and 2013 Fort Tuthill Master Plan. My strong background in policy development comes from Philippine Congress where I worked as chief legislative officer for Labor and Employment Committee Chair and Vice-Chair on Energy, Higher Education, Trade & Industry. I mediated labor strikes and organized the Joint Congressional Commission on Labor and Employment that reviewed the Philippine Labor Code. I was involved in these national legislation: Clean Air Act; Restricting smoking in public places/workplaces; Eliminating Child Labor in Hazardous Workplace; and Strengthening Vocational/Technical Education.

 

NAU: Are you satisfied with the relations between the City and NAU? What are some areas for improvement?

Improve and build upon existing relations,and communication mechanisms and between the City and NAU. As partners in pursuit of community vitality, I will seek areas of cooperation and foster collaboration and synergy with NAU and its stakeholders on student housing, infrastructure, road and traffic management, workforce development, economic development, safety, and crime prevention.

 

WATER: Do you support or oppose having our limited local water resources be taken into consideration when planning for growth and development in Flagstaff? Why?

It’s imperative to take into consideration how  future growth and development will affect and impact our City’s water resources. We can find solutions by working in a thoughtful and collaborative way, bringing all stakeholders to the table early and asking for input and advice often. If elected, I would engage Northern Arizona leaders on conversation about conservation measures to ensure that we can be respectful stewards of this precious resource while living up to the responsibilities of our citizens. I would also make sure that City Council participate in briefings provided by  state water leaders for better understanding of water issues.

WATER: Do you support or oppose recycling reclaimed water for drinking? Why?

I support water conservation. I would seek comprehensive scientific studies on the viability and safety of recycling reclaimed water for drinking. I also would like to see related environmental and economic impact studies, what and how much it would cost to implement such undertaking.

 

HIGH OCCUPANCY HOUSING: What additional solutions do you have to the challenges related to dormitory-style (high-occupancy) housing developments such as the Hub?

Recent high-occupancy housing development have been built as they were found to be in accordance to the 2014 voter-approved Flagstaff Regional Plan and Building Code. To comprehensively address the need for student and workforce housing, the Regional Plan, Building Code and other related City policies need to be revisited. This process must include data-driven studies, experts in rural and regional planning and public input from Flagstaff citizens.

 

HIGH OCCUPANCY HOUSING

Supports:

  • Providing incentives for affordable housing units within HOH developments
  • Sustainable building practices including renewable energy and water conservation
  • Placing limitations on parking spaces for HOH developments near transit
 

CLIMATE CHANGE: Would you support or oppose updating the city’s Energy Code so that new buildings must be built to be more energy efficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Why?

I would support updating the City’s Energy Code to encourage voluntary participation of builders and property developers and owners to construct new buildings to be more energy efficient to reduce greenhouse emissions. Sustainable energy-efficient practices in the construction industry are already in place and espoused by industry leaders. Best practices like Green Buildings have been showcased in the City and throughout the state. Voluntary participation, success stories of green buildings and their impact to community vitality are the main key toward long-term sustainable and energy-efficient construction.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE: How high of a priority is implementing the City’s new Climate Action and Adaptation Plan when approved?

Climate change is a universal issue and calls for state, federal, and international actions. The incumbent City Council has included Climate Change in their 2017-2019 Goals. It is the City Council’s authority to enact local legislation, adopt budgets, determine policies and appoint the City Manager who shall execute the laws and administer the government of the City. I will study and take a closer look at the proposed Climate Change Action and Adaptation Plan from a local policy-making perspective, identify what and how much it will take to implement it. Community engagement and support, participation of key stakeholders, grant funding, and private-public partnerships will be integral in the process of approval and implementation of a local Climate Change Action Plan.

 

COST OF LIVING: What strategies or policies would you propose to address the high cost of living in Flagstaff?

To live and thrive in Flagstaff, growing and strengthening a more resilient economy is key to advance economic vitality. With planned, managed and sustainable growth, I support small business retention, tourism, attract new business and diversify industries; while preserving natural areas, open spaces and dark skies. The historic, cultural, ecological and outdoor adventure assets of Flagstaff can be leveraged in creative, healthy and sustainable ways as an economic driver, thereby generating revenue for the community. This can be achieved by public-private partnerships, fostering synergy, cooperation, collaboration among partners in the city’s growth — small businesses, nonprofits, NAU, Coconino County, state/federal agencies.

 

WASTE: What do you propose to move our community towards zero waste targets?

The Regional Plan envisions the long-term health and viability of our natural resource environment is maintained through strategic planning for resource conservation and protection. However, it lacks policies directly related to waste and recycling, although there are some indirectly related policies and goals that are impacted by Flagstaff’s waste system. I will further develop sustainability and waste removal policies and goals. The first step is institutionalize a policy framework to guide decision-making in developing the most sustainable waste system.Such policy framework will shift from a solid waste management framework (end-of-life) to sustainable materials management framework (full life-cycle).

 

TRANSPORTATION TAX – ROAD/PED/BIKE/SAFETY: Do you support or oppose a sales tax increase for roadway, pedestrian, bicycle, and safety improvements at outlined in Proposition 419?

An integrated multi-modal transportation system is essential to community vitality. Many Flagstaff residents ride bicycles as main mode of transportation. The interlinking of public transit and bicycle is an important issue for seamless safe travel and sustainability of the overall public transportation network in our city. Proposition 419 will extend 3 existing sales taxes with a combined tax rate of 0.426%. The sales taxes expire on July 1, 2020. The revenue generated from these taxes has funded roadway, pedestrian and bicycle path construction and maintenance. I support Prop 419. If approved, the taxes will be extended to July 1, 2041 and continue to fund road /path improvements.

TRANSPORTATION TAX – LONE TREE RAILROAD OVERPASS: Do you support or oppose a sales tax increase for a Lone Tree Railroad Overpass from Butler Avenue to Route 66 as outlined in Proposition 420? Why?

Traffic congestion is a daunting issue in our mountain town. More routes over the railroad tracks are needed. Proposition 420 is a new sales tax; if approved a 0.23% sales tax will be collected to generate revenue to construct the Lone Tree Railroad Overpass connecting Butler Avenue to Route 66. The tax will start on July 1, 2019 and end July 1, 2039. Before deciding whether or not to vote for it, I need to know more about the cost to taxpayers and the displacement of residents in the neighborhood affected by this capital project. How about securing state and federal funding?

TRANSPORTATION TAX – TRANSIT: Do you support or oppose a sales tax increase to expand frequency and times of service for transit as outlined in Proposition 421? Why?

Proposition 421 is a new sales taxes and if approved will levy a 0.15% tax. It will begin July 1, 2020 and will last a decade, with the revenue generated going towards public transit improvements for Flagstaff. I would support 421; however, I am not sure it goes far enough. I need to know that the extended hours will serve our shift workers, i.e. hospitality, service, manufacturing, health care and other workplaces, who do not work the usual 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. workhours. How about expanding routes to serve commuting Flagstaff’s workforce, student and families?

ATTAINABLE HOUSING BOND: Do you support or oppose a bond to pay for new affordable housing, rehabilitation of existing affordable units and homebuyer assistance as outlined in Proposition 422? Why?

My heart says “yes” on Prop 422; but my pragmatic side thinks otherwise, listening to Flagstaff citizens. The need for housing is an imperative for decades. I’m not certain that a $25 million housing bond now is the answer. It’s important to pursue alternative solutions. I’m concerned the $25 million bond exhausts the city’s bonding capacity for 20 years. Would landlords pass on the increases in property taxes to their tenants? I would consider voting yes, if I’m convinced that bonding needs are met, including critical water resource and flood control, and it won’t place an excessive burden on tenants and property owners.

SUSTAINABLE WAGES ACT: Do you support or oppose a new minimum wage law that would repeal the provisions of Proposition 414 passed in 2016? Why?

I support increasing purchasing power for Flagstaff’s workforce. The disparity between state’s minimum wage and Flagstaff’s is $3.00/hr. One full-time entry-level position costs approximately an additional $7,000/yr.  What about employees in higher positions?  Experienced mediating labor strikes, I view wages with labor economics and macroeconomics perspectives. Over 90% of businesses are small businesses.  I heard from small business owners struggling to stay open.  I listened to employees whose take home pay decreased:  hours cut, tips declined, and rent increased. Some have been let go. Local nonprofits ceased or reduced services. Prop 414 is resulting to wage distortion, business downsizing and closing. Pragmatic solution is amending Prop 414 adjusting Flagstaff’s minimum wage to $0.50/hr above state level.

FUSD: Do you support or oppose the FUSD bond? Do you support or oppose the FUSD Override Renewal? Why?

I come from a family of teachers in the Philippines. My grandma often told me, “Your lifetime inheritance is education, not wealth or property.” I earned my bachelor’s degree from a college that produced the country’s first woman president. I went back to teach at my alma mater. My sons were shaped by FUSD education. I support education, teachers, and the FUSD bond and override renewal. I’ll make certain there’s a balance between the cost to taxpayers, teachers and students. I will pursue for Council to signify quality education and workforce development as a policy goal and demand much-needed funding from the state and federal government. Additionally, seek grants and public-private partnerships toward this goal.

CCC: Do you support or oppose the continuation of CCC bond spending to support programs and curriculum? Why?

Yes, I would support Proposition 417 to support Coconino Community College because the proposition would fund urgently needed workforce development programs crucial for local businesses, non-profits and government. If passed, the tax would also have a minimal impact on taxpayers as it would only replace a tax that has been in existence for the past 20 years. The tax that will sunset in 2019 funded the Lone Tree Campus Building, which demonstrates good stewardship of public funding. Taxpayers would not see an increase in their property tax bill, and it would provide over $2 million for workforce development programs.