Candidates for Tusayan council answer tough questions
TUSAYAN, Ariz. - On August 30, Tusayan residents will cast their votes for open council seats and for mayor.
In the August primary three seats on council are open. One seat is a four-year seat and two seats are two-year seats. For the four-year seat Al Montoya and David Chavez are on the ballot. For both two-year seats Becky Wirth, Rob Gossard and Anavon Harris are on the ballot.
Former mayor Craig Sanderson resigned his council seat June 1 in order to run as a private citizen for the mayor's office. He is running unopposed. After his resignation, Sanderson said the goals of the Tusayan council were consistent with his goals, with the primary goal being to provide housing for Tusayan residents.
"My goal is housing opportunities for the residents of the town of Tusayan, employees of the town of Tusayan and the greater Grand Canyon South Rim area," Sanderson said. "Not just for us but also for the people that work and live in Grand Canyon should also be afforded the opportunity to own a home," Sanderson said.
Sanderson said another goal he would like to achieve for Tusayan's future would be to bringing high speed and affordable internet to Tusayan.
Sanderson needed to resign his council seat in order to run for mayor after an ordinance was passed in March 2015 asking for the position of mayor be directly elected by voters rather than having the position appointed by council members. Sanderson served as mayor from January and resigned in May after former mayor Greg Bryan resigned the position. Sanderson said having the opportunity to serve as mayor of Tusayan over the last several months was an important step for him.
"I believe this was an opportunity for me to continue serving as a council member for the town of Tusayan during these five months prior to the election," he said. "It is very important for the community in the direction that we're going. Building and maintaining the momentum to make this (the recent decision to begin building town housing on the Ten X property) a reality."
The Grand Canyon News asked candidates running for seats on the town council to respond to a series of questions to help voters be better informed in the upcoming election.
The primary election takes place Aug. 30 and the general election is Nov. 8. Ballots can be cast at the Tusayan Town Hall
Grand Canyon News asked candidates running for seats on the town council to respond to a series of questions to help voters be better informed in the upcoming election.
The election is conducted by Coconino County. Ballots can be cast at the Town Hall, 845 Mustang Drive, Tusayan.
Candidate Q & A
Why did you decide to run for a seat on the Tusayan council?
As the incumbent on the ballot, I have been on the council since the town was incorporated a total of six years and would like to continue my service to keep the momentum and continuity of what we started, i.e. housing, internet broadband and many other projects that I would like to see completed.
I moved to the town of Tusayan about two years ago and I live here with my wife and 7-year-old son. My wife is the kindergarten teacher inside the Grand Canyon National Park and my son is going into third grade at the school. I have a vested interest in the town's success and I feel my energy and 14 years of executive experience will be beneficial.
I decided to run for a seat on the council because I have a deep passion and caring for people, especially the people here in Tusayan who have not only become my friends, but family also. I had not seen a lot of results from the council on the promises made when we incorporated, so I decided maybe I could help.
I've served as either the chairman or the vice-chairman on the Planning and Zoning Commission since its inception. While that service has been rewarding and educational, it is limited to the items that commission oversees. I would like to have a stronger voice in other town issues, as well.
I would love to help make a difference in our community and to service the citizens of Tusayan. I love working with people to help make our world a more positive place to live, one small town at a time.
What do you think is the town of Tusayan's primary goals and how can you help achieve them if voted on the council?
Initially and still at the forefront is the need for affordable housing. I initiated the idea for the foundation to help families/individuals who couldn't afford the down payment for housing. But now, not only is housing my goal. There is also affordable utilities (renewable energy) internet service, services for our retired residents. More importantly for our residents, to have someone who will listen and a voice in their community.
Tusayan's primary goals are to represent the interests of the town's residents, business owners and employees and pave the way for sustainable development of the town's lands. I am a positive professional that will represent Tusayan and its constituents honorably.
I think the town's primary concern should be housing. I have been working towards that goal this last couple of months and I would like the opportunity to continue to get this project off the ground. I think it is important that people are able to take pride in property that they own and are able to put down roots without the fear of being kicked out when they retire.
I won't achieve any of the town's primary goals - the city council will. Hopefully we will achieve goals that will improve the city's standing amongst it sister cities, make visiting the Grand Canyon National Park a more and more attractive venture for citizens everywhere, and promote the quality of life for the residents who live and work here.
In my opinion, I feel our primary goals are to provide a safe and secure environment for our families and children, we need to help our families and businesses with better internet options and provide adorable housing for the families that want to come here, work here and raise their children here.
What are three of the biggest issues facing the town of Tusayan and what can you do to help Tusayan move forward/past these issues?
The biggest issues facing our community are the misconception of uncontrolled development, brought on by individuals and groups who don't live here or do not want to see our community grow. The best way to overcome these objections is by building responsibly, making our community the poster child for how to build and develop next to a National Park and the Forest Service. Being good stewards of our environment as we grow. Keeping a government of the people by the people and for the people.
The opportunities in front of Tusayan are ensuring sustainable growth, building strong community, and maintaining a positive perception of our South Rim community. I will assist with these opportunities by working on a better high speed internet solution for the area, support efforts for sustainable development at Ten X and be a councilman that members of the community will be proud of.
Water, development and housing are the three biggest issues, I can help alleviate some of the fear of these issues by being well informed and talking to the people about how each of these issues will or will not affect us as a community.
Internet service. I think we're on track to solving this issue, however, the council seems to be dragging its feet finding possible solutions. I would like to be another body on this council with the hopes of influencing the council to take this issue more seriously. The outrageous cost of living for people who want to return their tax dollars to the town. People who don't want to drive to Flagstaff for provisions, or pay uncommonly high prices here for the same services elsewhere.
I feel like the three biggest issues that we face here in Tusayan are the same as the primary goals that I listed above that we are already working on and if I am elected to the council, I will continue to work towards solving these same issues.
What is your take on housing and the future development at Ten X property?
I look at it as an opportunity to move forward, give our residents hope for the future and our town a future. And lastly, an opportunity to prove that we can do this right.
My position on Ten X is there is a sustainable, responsible way to develop it and I am excited to work with all stakeholders to ensure we move forward.
We need affordable housing for those of us in this small community who would like to not be dependent on our employer for a roof over our head. Ten X could be the answer for those that would like ownership in their futures. I think there are still issues with the Ten X development that needs to be worked out, but we are closer to that goal than most people think. I hear a lot of concern about digging wells for water and having power to that property, what people don't understand is that water will be trucked in and there will be commercially generated power, hopefully, this will alleviate some of the concerns of living off the "grid". The housing plans for Ten X are modern and environmentally conscious.
The way I view the Housing Authority guidelines as they stand, this does not look like property ownership. It may be a great first step, it may be better than what we have now; however, I'm disappointed that something that should affect the residents of the town so deeply should not have been allowed a public hearing before being passed.
I am both excited and concerned, I love the idea of being able to provide family housing options, not only for my kids but for other families who are looking for a more permanent place to call home. At this time though I think we need more information about the plans being made and the impact that this all will make, not only the town of Tusayan, but the canyon itself and the other surrounding communities.