My family goes back four generations in Northern Arizona. Originally from Louisiana, they came to Flagstaff by way of McNary, when my grandfather found out that he could make three cents more an hour at one of the sawmills here. My daughter, Destiney, and I still live in the family home he built.
I first ran for City Council when the city tried to sell a community center. It’s an important space with a deep history in the community, but the local government didn’t seem to care. We held forums, we packed council meetings, we did everything we could think of to make them listen. It wasn’t working. I was expressing my frustration to a friend when I asked who their boss was. If City Council wouldn’t listen to us, we’d go to their boss. Joe laughed and told me we were their bosses; they work for the people. The next day, he brought me the paperwork to run for office. The historic Dunbar Elementary School became the Murdoch Community Center and remains there to this day.
For more than a decade, I have had the pleasure of serving the Flagstaff area. I have seen people come together to support each other, to support our schools, churches and institutions, and to create homegrown solutions to local issues. Since 2008, I’ve held monthly public meetings where I’ve had the opportunity to hear from thousands of Arizonans. We’ve worked together to bring a Veteran’s Home to Flagstaff, to incubate small businesses, to help fund after-school care and to expand library hours.
I’ve also seen the economy collapse and seen education funding decimated. We’ve passed bonds and overrides – over and over – to help our kids. But, despite wide agreement that we should prioritize education, we’re nowhere near the funding levels of 2008. We’ve seen small business owners work and work to bring their dreams to fruition. I wonder if we couldn’t make it a little easier for them.
I’ve talked to mayors from all over, and everyone wants to be able to create local solutions to problems we identify, but so often, we’re preempted by the legislature. Whether vacation rentals, plastic pollution or vaping regulations, whenever a corporation feels threatened by rural initiatives, they run to their friends in Phoenix and politicians promptly pass a law taking away local power. We know what’s best for our communities; Phoenix politicians don’t.
It is for these reasons that I’m announcing my candidacy for the Arizona State House. Our schools need funding for teachers and more – we need buses that will reliably transport our kids, roofs that don’t leak, up-to-date textbooks and modern technology. We need a workforce to create the businesses of tomorrow, and right now, we’re failing.
Small, local businesses are Arizona’s largest job creators and make up the bulk of our economy. Instead of tax cuts for large corporations, I’d like to see support systems built to help our small businesses thrive and grow. It’s time for Northern Arizona to make its own decisions and determine for ourselves what our future will look like. We must restore local control. Together, we can and must preserve the spirit and character of rural Arizona and help our families, communities and businesses thrive, because we (too) are Arizona! FBN
By Coral Evans
Coral Evans, MBA, is the mayor of the City of Flagstaff.