Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 29, 2012


Host: Ted Simons

Flagstaff Mayor-elect


  • Jerry Nabours talks about why he ran for mayor and what he hopes to accomplish in office.
Guests:
  • Jerry Nabours - Mayor-elect, Flagstaff
Category: Government   |   Keywords: flagstaff, mayor, elect, elections, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. A RETIRED ATTORNEY WHO IS SUING THE CITY OF FLAGSTAFF HAS BEEN ELECTED AS THE CITY'S NEW MAYOR. HERE TO TELL WHAT HE HOPES TO ACCOMPLISH IN OFFICE IS FLAGSTAFF MAYOR-ELECT JERRY NABOURS. GOOD TO SEE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

Jerry Nabours: TED, MY PLEASURE.

Ted Simons: THIS IS YOUR FIRST POLITICAL CAMPAIGN. CORRECT?

Jerry Nabours: CORRECT.

Ted Simons: WHY DID YOU RUN?

Jerry Nabours: IT WAS THE TIME AND PLACE, I GUESS YOU WOULD SAY. I HAVE BEEN AN ATTORNEY IN FLAGSTAFF FOR 37 YEARS. I HAVE A LOT OF BUSINESS EXPERIENCE. I HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE WITH THE CITY, CITY HALL. AND FINANCIALLY, I WAS ABLE TO DO IT. MAYOR AND COUNCIL ARE ONE OF THE LOWEST PAID POSITIONS IN THE CITY. AND I HAD FINALLY KIND OF CLOSED UP MY LAW PRACTICE, SO I HAD THE TIME. TIME, KNOWLEDGE, AND WHEREWITHAL SO I THOUGHT, THIS IS THE TIME TO DO IT.

Ted Simons: AND YOU, I ASK WHY YOU DECIDED TO RUN BECAUSE FROM WHAT I HAVE READ YOU HAVE BEEN A LONG-TIME CRITIC OF CITY HALL. IS THAT AN ACCURATE ASSESSMENT? SECONDLY, WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS? WHAT NEEDED TO BE CHANGED?

Jerry Nabours: I WAS CRITICAL OF SOME OF THE PROJECTS THAT THE CITY HAS TAKEN ON IN THE LAST FEW YEARS. THIS THE CITY WITH CITY FUNDS BUILT AN AUTO MALL, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, THEY DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH CAR DEALERS TO FILL IT. AND SO IT SITS HALF EMPTY. AND THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY IN THE GROUND. THE CITY PAID AN AIRLINE TO FLY DIRECTLY FROM FLAGSTAFF TO L.A., SUBSIDIZED IT FOR TWO YEARS. AS SOON AS THE TWO YEARS WAS UP, THE AIRLINE WAS GONE. THAT WAS A HALF A MILLION DOLLARS. THE CITY HAS SPENT A LOT OF MONEY ON LAND AND INFRASTRUCTURE FOR SUPPOSED AFFORDABLE HOUSING. HASN'T WORKED OUT. THE LAND SITS EMPTY. THAT'S ANOTHER HALF A MILLION. SO YOU KNOW, A MILLION HERE, A MILLION THERE, IT STARTED TO DRAW SOME ATTENTION. AND I THOUGHT IT WAS DUE TO A LACK OF BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE ON THE COUNCIL, THAT THE COUNCIL HAD GOTTEN INTO SOME OF THOSE THINGS. SO I THOUGHT, I CAN BRING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE.

Ted Simons: THE IDEA, AS WELL, YOU THOUGHT THAT THE CITY WAS LEGALLY LIABLE FOR A LOT OF MONEY AS WELL. EXPLAIN, PLEASE.

Jerry Nabours: THE CITY HAD APPROVED A 500-LOT SUBDIVISION THAT HAD SOME PRIVATE STREETS AND PRIVATE AMENITIES IN IT AND THE CITY HAD FAILED TO GET A PERFORMANCE BOND TO ASSURE THAT THOSE THINGS WOULD BE BUILT IF THE DEVELOPER SHOULD HAVE TROUBLE. AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. THE DEVELOPER WENT BROKE, THE SUBDIVISION WAS NOT COMPLETED. AND THE PEOPLE WHO HAD PURCHASED LOTS IN THAT SUBDIVISION WERE NOT ABLE TO BUILD HOUSES ON THEIR LOTS, AND THE CITY HAS A LAWSUIT GOING RIGHT NOW FOR $7 MILLION AGAINST IT.

Ted Simons: IT SOUNDS LIKE, OVERALL, CITY INVOLVEMENT IN BUSINESS PROJECTS, ARE YOU SAYING THAT THE CITY SHOULDN'T BE INVOLVED? OR ARE YOU SAYING THE CITY'S INVOLVEMENT WAS INEPT?

Jerry Nabours: THE CITY SHOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN DEVELOPMENT, THERE MY OPINION, SPECIFICALLY WHEN THE CITY IS NOT VERY GOOD AT IT. CITY DID ANOTHER PROJECT WHERE THEY GUARANTEED FUNDING FOR A DEVELOPER. THAT DEVELOPER'S PROJECT WENT BROKE AND THE CITY HAD TO STEP IN AND COVER THAT LOAN UNTIL IT COULD GET THE PROPERTY SOLD AND RECOUP ITS MONEY. BUT THINGS LIKE THAT, THAT THERE JUST SEEMED TO BE A LACK OF EXPERTISE BEHIND SOME OF THESE DECISIONS.

Ted Simons: IT'S INTERESTING, THOUGH, BECAUSE WITH THE AUTO MALL AND THE AIRLINE THAT YOU DESCRIBED, INCENTIVES WERE A MAJOR FACTOR THERE. AND RIGHT NOW, THE STATE LEVEL, INCENTIVES ARE HUGE IN TERMS OF TRYING TO ATTRACT BUSINESS TO ARIZONA. ARE YOU AGAINST INCENTIVES IN GENERAL FOR FLAGSTAFF? OR PARTICULAR INCENTIVES?

Jerry Nabours: I AM GENERALLY AGAINST INCENTIVES. I THINK THAT THEY HAVE BEEN SHOWN AT A CITY LEVEL TO BE A MARGINAL VALUE. THE CITIES HAVE TO START BIDDING AGAINST EACH OTHER. WHO CAN GIVE THE MOST INCENTIVES? FLAGSTAFF IS UNIQUE. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL SPOT. WE HAVE GOT THE INTERSTATE, THE RAILROAD, THE WEATHER. AND WE CAN ATTRACT BUSINESS SIMPLY BY BEING AN EFFICIENT, WELL-RUN CITY, ATTRACTIVE CITY, AND A WELCOMING CITY. FLAGSTAFF HAS A BAD REPUTATION, FRANKLY, AND THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I HOPE TO DO IS TURN THAT REPUTATION AROUND THAT FLAGSTAFF CAN BE MORE BUSINESS-FRIENDLY. YOU KNOW, WAL-MART WANTED TO BUILD A SUPERSTORE THERE A FEW YEARS AGO. THE COUNCIL PASSED AND ORDINANCE TO PRECLUDE THAT STORE. THE VOTERS OVERTURNED THAT IN A REFERENDUM AND SO WE HAVE A SUPER WAL-MART, BUT THAT'S THE KIND OF ATTITUDE THAT FLAGSTAFF HAS SHOWN.

Ted Simons: I WANT TO GET BACK TO THAT IN A SECOND BUT BEFORE WE DO THAT WE GOT TO GET TO THE REASON WHY YOU ARE SUING THE CITY, MAYOR. WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?

Jerry Nabours: THAT'S BEEN A VERY INTERESTING STORY. IT WAS MY 24 HOURS OF FAME ON THE INTERNET, I GUESS. AND SEVERAL YEARS AGO, THE SIDEWALK IN FRONT OF AN APARTMENT BUILDING THAT I OWN WITH ANOTHER FELLOW, THE SIDEWALK IS CITY SIDEWALK, CITY OWNED SIDEWALK ON CITY PROPERTY, AND IT WAS DETERIORATED AND KIND OF DANGEROUS. SO WE ASKED THE CITY TO REPLACE THE SIDEWALK, AND THE CITY SAID NO. WE HAVE AN ORDINANCE THAT YOU HAVE TO FIX THE SIDEWALK. AND WE SAID, NO, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. THIS IS A CITY SIDEWALK. THEY SAID, YEAH, THAT'S OUR ORDINANCE. IF YOU HAVE PROPERTY NEXT TO A CITY SIDEWALK, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SIDEWALK. I THOUGHT, THAT JUST COULDN'T BE. THAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.

Ted Simons: WERE THERE TREE ROOTS GROWING?

Jerry Nabours: NO.

Ted Simons: BECAUSE YOUR PIPES WERE BAD?

Jerry Nabours: A GOOD QUESTION. IT WAS AGREED IT WAS NOT DUE TO OUR ACTIONS IN ANY WAY. IT WAS JUST DETERIORATION OVER TIME. AND SO WE LIKENED IT TO, BOY, IF YOU LIVED NEXT DOOR TO THE PARK, WOULD YOU HAVE TO MOW THE GRASS? AND SO WE THOUGHT THIS JUST COULDN'T BE. AND SO WE CHALLENGED THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THAT ORDINANCE. WE LOST AT THE SUPERIOR COURT LEVEL IN COCONINO COUNTY AND WENT TO THE COURT OF APPEALS. THE COURT OF APPEALS SAID, MAYBE IT'S UNCONSTITUTIONAL. IT DEPENDS ON THE DEGREE. AND SO WE HAVE ASKED THE ARIZONA SUPREME COURT TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT. MAYBE THEY WILL, MAYBE THEY WON'T. BUT COINCIDENTALLY IN THE MEANTIME, I GET ELECTED MAYOR. THAT BECAME AN ISSUE IN THE CAMPAIGN. THIS GUY IS SUING THE CITY! AND IT WAS INTERESTING, BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT, O. THAT'S TERRIBLE. HE'S SUING THE CITY. BUT MORE PEOPLE THOUGHT THIS IS GOOD. HE IS STANDING UP TO THE CITY. HE IS NOT AFRAID OF CITY HALL AND HIS ARGUMENT MAKES SENSE.

Ted Simons: HOW'S THE SIDEWALK LOOKING THESE DAYS?

Jerry Nabours: THE CITY FIXED IT.

Ted Simons: THEY DID?

Jerry Nabours: AND CHARGE THE US, PUT A LIEN ON OUR BUILDING WHICH REMAINS UNPAID.

Ted Simons: BACK TO WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT, ABOUT FLAGSTAFF'S REPUTATION, HOW THE CITY WAS RUN IN THE PAST. YOU WERE ELECTED MAYOR BUT THE WINNING MARCH WAS 320 SOME ODD VOTES. THAT'S HARDLY A MANDATE. HOW DO YOU, A DIVIDED CITY MAY SOUND A LITTLE DRAMATIC HERE BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF FOLKS UP THERE WHO DID NOT VOTE FOR YOU. HOW DO YOU REPRESENT EVERYONE IN SUCH A TIGHT ELECTION IN WHAT LOOKS TO BE A LITTLE BIT OF A DIVIDED TOWN?

Jerry Nabours: IT IS. WE HAVE ALWAYS HAD -- WHETHER YOU CALL IT A GROWTH VERSUS NO-GROWTH ARGUMENT, OR BUSINESS VERSUS, YOU KNOW, NONBUSINESS, GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, SOME PEOPLE LOOK AT IT LIKE THAT. BUT MY ROLE AS THE MAYOR IS TO RESPECT THE OPINION OF, WE HAVE MAYOR AND SIX COUNSEL MEMBERS, AND EVERYBODY HAS AN EQUAL VOTE. AND I WILL RESPECT EVERYONE'S OPINION. MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION WE NEED ON THE TABLE TO MAKE A DECISION. TRY TO BUILD SOME CONSENSUS. BUT I MADE IT CLEAR DURING MY CAMPAIGN THAT I WAS A FISCAL CONSERVATIVE, THAT I THOUGHT WE SHOULD TAKE CARE OF OUR BASIC CORE SERVICES FIRST -- ROADS AND SEWERS AND WATER AND PARKS -- AND I AM GOING TO STICK WITH THAT.

Ted Simons: LAST QUESTION. YOU MENTION THE SUPER WAL-MART AND THE IDEA AGAIN REGARDING INCENTIVES AND THE ABILITY OF WORKING IN MORE OF A BUSINESS-LIKE MODEL AT THE GOVERNMENT LEVEL. THERE ARE FOLKS WHO DON'T WANT A SUPER WAL-MART ANYWHERE WITHIN SPITTIN' DISTANCE AND THERE ARE FOLKS WHO LOOK AT QUALITY OF LIFE AND SAY WE DON'T NECESSARILY WANT THIS TO BE A BOOM TOWN. WHAT'S GOOD FOR BUSINESS MAY NOT BE GOOD FOR FLAGSTAFF. HOW DO YOU ADDRESS THOSE FOLKS?

Jerry Nabours: TED, IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO WANT THE QUALITY OF LIFE ALSO COMPLAIN THAT THE COST OF LIVING IS TOO HIGH. AND FLAGSTAFF IS NOTORIOUS FOR A HIGHER COST OF LIVING THAN THE REST OF THE STATE. AND SO COMPETITION BRINGS DOWN PRICES, GENERALLY. AND SO I, MY POSITION WOULD BE, ANY BUSINESS THAT WANTS TO COME TO TOWN, YOU ARE WELCOME.

Ted Simons: ADDENDUM TO THE QUESTION. COMPETITION CAN HELP BRING DOWN PRICES BUT CAN TOO MUCH OF A CERTAIN TYPE OF BUSINESS, A CERTAIN TYPE OF BUSINESS THAT LOOKS A CERTAIN WAY IS RUN A CERTAIN WAY, CAN THAT AFFECT A QUALITY OF LIFE THAT IN AND OF ITSELF ATTRACTS BUSINESS, ATTRACTS RESIDENTS?

Jerry Nabours: WELL, THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. AND THAT WILL CERTAINLY BE PART OF THE ARGUMENT AND WE WILL SEE HOW THAT DEVELOPS.

Ted Simons: ALL RIGHT. MAYOR-ELECT JERRY NABOURS OF FLAGSTAFF, CONGRATULATIONS. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

Jerry Nabours: APPRECIATE IT. MY PLEASURE.

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