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Flagstaff City Manager Candidates Address Regional Plan

Perhaps the third time is a charm? Knowledge of the experience unique to Flagstaff and experience at running a city were the topics of presentations given by four candidates vying for the position of Flagstaff City Manager. The candidates discussed their impressions of the Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030 during a public meeting June 19 at Flagstaff City Hall.

The candidates, according to information from the City of Flagstaff, are:

Clifford Moore, city manager from Yakima, Washington. He has 28 years of public service and holds a master’s degree in multicultural education.

Andy Bertelsen, the only local candidate. Currently, he is the public works director for the City of Flagstaff. He has 21 years of public service and holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning.

Steve Barwick, the city manager of Aspen, Colorado. He has 38 years of public service and holds a master’s degree in public administration.

Greg Clifton, an attorney and former manager for the towns of Vail and Telluride, Colorado. He has 25 years of public service with a juris doctorate and a master’s degree in public administration.

Each candidate was given 20 minutes to discuss the Regional Plan before taking another 25 minutes of questions from city staff. As outlined in the Regional Plan, they all organized their presentations along the themes of “natural environment, built environment and human environment.” Natural environment refers to the beauty of the region; built environment refers to the pace of growth; and human environment refers to the livability and quality of life for the residents.

Moore suggested that the built environment was the main priority for Flagstaff to immediately, in a positive way, impact the lives of the residents and visitors to the city. He spoke of the need for affordable housing, fixing infrastructure and supporting alternative means of transportation.

“What I’ve seen about Flagstaff, people care, people are invested in the community,” Moore said.

Barwick focused on affordable housing, transportation, land use and climate resiliency as priorities. To achieve the goals set out in the plan, Flagstaff had to eye relationships with community organizations and be action oriented, he said.

“If we don’t hit those plan goals, it [the Flagstaff region] will cease to be as special as it is now,” Barwick said.

Clifton, citing city growth and lack of affordable housing, honed in more specifically on Flagstaff’s aging infrastructure as the most urgent and pressing need outlined in the plan. For instance, many of the water lines in the city have gone beyond the intended lifespans. Additionally, stormwater flood projects, to prepare the city for catastrophic storm events, must be a priority. Finally, infrastructure connection projects, like the Fourth Street connection to J.W. Powell Boulevard are important for continued economic vitality, he said.

Bertelsen stressed aligning the building and zoning codes with the vision of the plan, as well as prioritizing initiatives on open space, housing, public transportation, watershed protection and climate action and adaptation. Community conversations are necessary in making the Regional Plan a reality, he said.

“If we are comfortable, we are stuck,” Bertelsen said, adding that change is inevitable, so the city must respond to that change with a sound plan. “Let’s focus on the human experience.”

After making their presentations, the candidates spent the afternoon at the Murdoch Center in Southside for a “Meet and Greet” with members of the Flagstaff community. More than 40 community leaders and members of the public mingled with the candidates and asked them about their experiences.

As of press time, no decision had been made as to which, if any, of the candidates have been offered the position.

This is the third time city staff members have tried to hire a permanent city manager since the 2018 resignation of former City Manager Josh Copley. After Copley’s resignation, Barbara Goodrich stepped in to serve in the interim. During the second search, negotiations with the finalist were unsuccessful, primarily because of the salary offered. The first search ended before the Flagstaff City Council determined any finalists because all of the candidates were either eliminated as not a fit for Flagstaff, or they withdrew from the process.

Deputy Manager Chosen

Shannon Anderson has been chosen as the new deputy city manager for Flagstaff, according to information released from the city.

Anderson was one of 50 candidates for the job and replaces the interim Deputy City Manager Kevin Treadway, who has returned to his position of chief of the Flagstaff Police Department.

“I am honored to have been chosen to serve as the next Deputy City Manager,” Anderson said in a press release. “I am looking forward to helping to lead this organization and assist in further building a strong team with pride in our city and the community we serve.” FBN

By Larry Hendricks, FBN

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