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Bringing People Together to Solve Community Challenges

Hello, Northern Arizona!

Well, it looks like fall has arrived, schools are back in session, NAU has started the fall semester, nights are cooling off and soon the leaves will change. This month, I want to talk about how we move forward together. We know that we all want to make sure our communities remain healthy and safe. The question is, “How do we do that?”

Something that’s been proven true in my experience is this African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Recent years have seen a lot of frustration in Arizona. Year after year, we ask why our teachers are so poorly paid and why the cost of higher education is so high. We worry about summers that get warmer every year and what that means for fire season. We look at our growing communities and see that housing and transportation are going to be issues. We also wonder if there is enough water for everyone.

These are all valid concerns shared by a group of people who love their communities, their towns and this state. There’s not a lack of consensus in Arizona. Most of us agree on what we want for the future. The question is, “Where is the leadership on these issues?”

Here in Flagstaff, we’ve taken action wherever we can. I am proud to say we brought the entire community together to create a climate action plan. We held a series of public meetings, we took comments for months, and together we drafted a plan that we then funded in the city budget.

It’s the role of the state to provide for education, but a group of determined individuals came together and said, “What can we do?” And so, LAUNCH Flagstaff was born. LAUNCH is going to increase the availability of quality pre-K for families that would otherwise be unable to afford it.

Years ago, I sat in on a meeting at the VFW and heard the story of a veteran whose brother was nearing the end of his life in a veteran’s home in Phoenix. This man was unable to afford to be with his brother because of the distance. I worked to bring people together from both parties and all levels of government and this summer we broke ground on Northern Arizona’s first veteran’s home. We’re building more affordable housing, and actively pursuing innovative solutions to our housing crisis.

Leadership isn’t about ideology. It’s about bringing people together to get something done. We know what we want for our communities. We know what’s best, where the needs are and what the challenges are. What’s needed is leadership that can bring solutions to fruition. FBN

By Coral Evans

Coral Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.

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