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home : features : features May 24, 2016

2/19/2013 10:41:00 AM
Slice of life: County Supervisor Art Babbott
Grand Canyon News takes an inside look at those connected to the Tusayan and Grand Canyon area
Coconino County Supervisor Art Babbott. Clara Beard/WGCN
Coconino County Supervisor Art Babbott. Clara Beard/WGCN

Clara Beard
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

How many years have you lived in Flagstaff?

I've lived in Flagstaff for right around 15 years.

What's a typical day for you like?

A typical day starts pretty early between 5:30 and 6 a.m. with my 3 1/2-year-old daughter, who is an early riser and a highly spirited child. That's a joyful beginning to a day. Then, typically I will be down in meetings or in the office between 8 and 9 a.m. depending. I started this job in January, and the first six weeks has really been taken up a lot by getting the organizational lay of the land of the county. Through my six years of work at Flagstaff City Council and I have sat on the Coconino County Planning and Zoning Commission in the early 2000s, I've had a really good organizational sense of who does what at the county, but it's still important that you go meet with the different elected officials and the different functions, departments and divisions that the county has, just so I can enunciate that to people. I know that I'm familiar with who to go to when an issue comes up for a constituent, and also, just as important, is to know how to be proactive in trying to look for solutions for constituents.

How does the Tusayan/Grand Canyon area stack up on your priority level?

Tusayan has important and special relevance for me because although I am the supervisor for the whole county, I do have my district. And Tusayan is one of the important communities in my district. My relationship with the elected leadership, as well as citizens and community organizations that work here, is to make sure that they feel we have a relationship that is based on mutual respect, mutual understanding and that they can come to me, so I can be of service and effective for them in trying to allow the outcome the town is trying to achieve in terms of providing programs, services to its citizens.

What are some of your goals for the Grand Canyon/Tusayan area?

On a very significant level, the county is really the service and programmatic provider for a lot of different state functions in our counties. And some of those functions relate to public safety, to the courts, to judicial services and health and social services. One of the objectives I have is to make sure everyone in the county has access to the services that we do provide.

That's kind of a constitutional perspective of what my job is. On a much bigger perspective, what I hope to bring to the table in terms of discussion and in terms of policy is to do my best to make sure that the region that we live in is resilient to handle the changes that are coming. Some of those changes are related to climate and environmental challenges, some are related to what I believe to be a continuing and significant drought. And very very importantly we prepare for a future of economic development principles that understand that if Coconino County becomes a place where only the wealthiest members of our society can afford to live, we've not done our job.

We need to be very cognizant of the fact that the county has to be a place where people of all income levels can prosper and that it is not a place that only people at the upper end of the income level can survive.

What's your philosophy on governance?

It's really based on the reality that the work I do and the work those in the public sector do with relation to citizens is relationships. If you have relationships that are strong enough to weather differences of opinion or divergent thoughts about outcomes, then you have a great relationship. That's what the early part of my job is. It's to lay down the foundation of strong relationships with people and understanding that people are going to have different perspectives. Most importantly, a relationship that can weather those is a strong one and one that can't isn't healthy and it's not good.

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