I thought you might like a glimpse as to how things work here in Flagstaff local politics. I’ll be occasionally posting updates from the campaigns that give an inside look into running for office. Recently Coral Evans announced her Mayoral run. We decided to do this with a rally at City Hall as it fits with Coral and I’s history in Flagstaff politics. In fact, we have been attending and organizing rallies on the City Hall steps and lawn for many years, standing up for the rights of LGBTQ peoples, immigrants, and once to remember the life of a mutual friend. We prepped that day by gathering clipboards and pens. We ate lunch at my desk and Coral rehearsed her speech for me. We all know Coral is a gifted orator who can give a heck of a speech without preparation or warning. This one was different though, it was drafted by Coral, with parts of earlier speeches I had helped to write, inspiration from our favorite speeches, and then edited by a close group of supporters. Then we rehearse. So we sat in the office, and reminisced about friends who are no longer here, but would be so happy about this historic candidacy. We talked about what it means for Flagstaff that a little girl from the projects can become the mayor. What this race could mean to the kid who goes to sleep every night in Coral’s old bedroom in Siler Homes. We considered why we were doing this, and drew strength from it. Then I made her practice some more, because I am a hard ass. The speech is reprinted below, for those that would like to read it.
Thanks for your support,
Rally for November 2016 Speech
Hello Everyone. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Let me begin my remarks by AGAIN saying thanks to all of you who have joined me here today at City Hall.
Your being here today means a lot and it is very humbling to me because I know in my heart that you didn’t just come here to hear my announcement…
You came because of the air of uncertainly regarding this place…Flagstaff AZ.
This once tiny logging town now a city of over 65,000 people.
This place that no matter the political affiliation or job title, age, race, gender or education level, each and every one of us here call home.
Some of us are children of Flagstaff, sons and daughters born here, raised here we stayed here.
Others of us were traveling through, came for school, came to visit, we never left.
And there are those of us who came here, left and then moved heaven and earth to get back again.
All of us here determined to make a life…to make our home here in Flagstaff, AZ.
Why? Certainly not because it is easy… with one of the highest costs of living in county most of us work long-hours, 2+ jobs trying to keep a roof over our family’s head and food on the table.
We might talk about leaving going down south where things are cheaper but we don’t. We stay here. Why?
Because Flagstaff has historically had a quality of life that is a reality that many communities only dream of.
I am a daughter of Flagstaff, 3rd generation. My grandparents came to Arizona in the early 1920’s from Louisiana, first settling in McNary, AZ and then coming here. My grandfather moved his new wife here to Flagstaff from McNary when he learned he could make 3 cents more an hour at the Stone Forest Saw Mill (it was the Saw Mill that was located where the new Saw Mill Development on Butler is now). My grandparents raised four children here, the oldest Coral Jean, was my mother.
I wasn’t born here, I was born at Holloman, AFB (New Mexico), my father was in the Airforce and my mother was a school teacher.
My mother returned home to Flagstaff just before my 4th birthday. My mother due to a work injury was disabled and due to a divorce a single parent of two (I have a twin brother).
I grew up in Siler Homes, I attended Head Start at Cogdill, my twin brother and I received numerous scholarships and assistance to attend camps (e.g. the museum of northern AZ Elden Pueblo Summer Archeology Camp & Ballet) and play sports (e.g. Ice Hockey, Soccer) here in this community.
My mom helped my brother and I start our first business when we were 12; we provided janitorial services to two office buildings here in the downtown.
I got my 1st job downtown at Kathy’s Cafe when I turned 13 and my GED at 19, purchased my first home in Sunnyside at 27, overcame breast cancer the first time at 29 and was named vice-mayor at 40.
It takes a village to raise a child and for me and my twin brother, Flagstaff has been an incredible open, caring and loving village. I am a product and reflection of your generosity and caring.
I appreciate the fact that I was able to make a life here for my daughter and myself and I strongly feel that such an opportunity should be available to everyone, all those who wish it.
Every day in this town, seemingly against all odds, I see people coming together to make their families healthier, their neighborhoods safer, their businesses more successful AND we need a city government which values and encourages that.
One that will fight to protect after school programs, library hours or programs that help traumatized women and their children.
Not one that seeks to demean and belittle our social service infrastructure.
One who will protect precious community assets such as the Buffalo Park Annex from developers.
Not one that ignores the pleas of the grandson of Lowell, a decorated Navel Officer, and others to preserve our dark skies and the $50+Billon industry that we have here because of it.
One who believes that 58 families and their houses are NOT expendable just because they live in a trailer park.
Someone who has a proven track record of fighting when it comes to preserving the rights of Charter Cities (Flagstaff is a Charter City).
And certainly not a government that deliberately creates tension and distrust amongst this city’s many shareholders when it comes to the allocation of resources.
I have had the opportunity to spend the majority of my adult life working as a community activist, a community builder and back in 2008 while I was working with a group of residents to save the historic Murdoch Center I started complaining to a friend of mine, Joe Ray, about lack of understanding shown by the (then) city leadership (they wanted to sell the building rather than allow the neighborhood to use it as a community center). Joe Ray showed up the next day with paperwork in his hand and told me to ‘do something about it’.
I have had the honor of serving on the Flagstaff City Council and doing something about it since then.
I stand here before you this afternoon to tell you that I am now willing to take my 8 year commitment to this community to the next level.
I stand here today to ask you for your help and support because….
I am running for Mayor.
Over the past four years as Flagstaff residents we have been told that City Government needs to run like a business and that as residents we are customers.
Let me be clear, I completely disagree with that.
YES, our city government should be efficient and effective with our money, our time and our resources HOWEVER somethings, such as “quality of life” cannot be measured solely in terms of dollars.
Tell me…what is the monetary return on investment of a neighborhood park? Sunday hours at the Library? The ability for those who live in Cheshire to attend Sunday mass during a snowy 3-day holiday? Families that are able to survive with the parent working one job instead of two?
As residents of Flagstaff we are NOT CUSTOMERS. We live here, we work here, we go to school here, we are building lives here – We are shareholders – we have (how do they say it) skin in the game.
I want to be clear about what this campaign is not about.
This campaign is not about taking Flagstaff back to the way it was.
This campaign is not about stopping growth, it’s about responsible growth.
This campaign is not about limiting business or the number of people who can come here, it’s about creating jobs that can support families.
This campaign is about more than addressing traffic issues and where students will live.
This campaign is about the Flagstaff we all want.
In this next election we will be called to reaffirm our community’s vision and values AND our commitments to them, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers and the promise of future generations.
I am from Flagstaff and I can tell you that Flagstaff has historically always welcomed new, diverse and innovative people, businesses and ideas.
As a daughter of Flagstaff I can tell you that Flagstaff has historically been a progressive town, a town that pushed the limits in astrophysics, in medical research, in the conservation of natural resources, and in public policy.
To be clear this campaign, our campaign is about Flagstaff’s Future and a community’s vision that sustains the quality of life that we have here in this city, the reason that we are all here, for future generations to come.
It’s not going to be easy, but the most important things in life rarely are. Together, if we all work together, I really believe we can have a city government that exercises a balanced approach to the stewardship of community resources and is passionate about genuine community revitalization, sustainability and advancement for this city’s residents.
I am asking you today for your support, your time, your energy, and yes, your money and most importantly your vote for Mayor in this next election.