AZ Daily Sun's Candidate Questions
What are your thoughts on the current system of qualifying mayoral and city council candidates through petition signatures?
The petition signatures requirement is stipulated in the Flagstaff City Charter ARTICLE IX -ELECTIONS, 4(b): “The petition for nomination, consisting of signatures of qualified voters, aggregating not less than 5% … of the number of electors voting at the last preceding municipal General Election.”
Any changes to this rule will require Charter amendments approved by voters.
I’m an independent candidate in a nonpartisan election. In my experience collecting signatures this year and in 2018, I’ve encountered many voters who refused to sign my petition to put my name on the ballot because I’m not registered with any political party. Political parties must refrain from influencing collection of petition signatures. It’s imperative to maintain local elections for mayor and council genuinely nonpartisan. I have friends and supporters who are registered either democrats or republicans. Coconino County has more registered independents (PND- party not designated) as me compared with any party affiliation.
What did the city council do well over the last two years? Published 10/16/2022
I’m honored to serve our diverse community as the only independent on Council for the last four years. Council’s notable accomplishments the last two years:
• Adopted Flagstaff 10-Year Housing Plan to increase the number of available and affordable housing options for Flagstaff residents at all income levels and increase housing subsidies for our neighbors who are unable to afford housing in Flagstaff.
• Created synergy among multiple partner agencies on wildfire suppression, flood mitigation and community resource mobilization
• Championed Team Flagstaff and partner agencies to deliver Rio de Flag Flood Control Project.
• City leadership on METROPLAN planted the seeds of funding for Downtown Mile Projects and subsequently gained BNSF’s financial contribution and INFRA grant to implement the $150 million projects.
• Council supported and funded my initiatives: Business One-Stop Shop (BOSS), Cost Recovery Policy, and workforce training.
• Council supported my FAIR item: Code of Conduct and Ethical Policy for Mayor and Council.
How would you like to develop Flagstaff's public transportation and traffic management strategies? Published 10/9/2022
Transportation efficiency is intrinsic to a thriving community and resilient economy. I’m actively involved in bringing state/federal dollars to local transportation projects, with my leadership on METROPLAN Greater Flagstaff and as Vice-Chair of statewide Rural Transportation Advocacy Council.
• 2021 Flagstaff Survey: transportation as top priority to improve quality of life; automobile transportation as highest priority (69%)
• 61% of workforce drive to work
• Flagstaff attracts 6 million visitors/yr.
• 183,000 peoples who live on the reservations drive to Flagstaff for goods and services
METROPLAN https://www.metroplanflg.org/ is updating the Regional Transportation Plan. It’s imperative to build voter-approved Lone Tree Overpass and JW Powell Extension. Onward Plan increases vehicle miles traveled by 460,000 miles/day by 2030. Transportation strategies must encompass community design to expand urbanized areas, increase density and connect more streets.
Travel Demand Strategies promote work-from-home, ridesharing, and less driving; goals identified include:
• Double transit service: $25 million/year
• Quadruple bike/pedestrian facilities: $53 million/year
What should the relationship between the city, NAU and CCC look like? Published 10/2/2022
Evolutions of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University are parallel to each other. From its humble beginnings in 1899 with 3 students, NAU enrolls over 24,000 students. From the early settlers of Sinagua, Anasazi, and Cohonina Indians to the flag-raising ceremony on July 4, 1876, Flagstaff’s early development was associated with the railroad, lumber and livestock industries. With a population of 77,000, Flagstaff evolved into a city with major economic sectors: tourism, advanced manufacturing, astronomy, healthcare, bioscience, forestry, R&D craft brewing, digital/e-commerce.
NAU and Coconino Community College (founded in 1991) are integral partners for career pathways/workforce development and economic vitality for Flagstaff and Northern Arizona region. It’s imperative to strengthen growing collaborative partnerships with CCC, NAU, and the business sector toward job creation, innovation, entrepreneurship, global business, and quality workforce training. Flagstaff, Coconino County, NAU and CCC have partnered to create the High Country Training Academy to affordably train local recruits.
How should Flagstaff look to support public education? Published 9/25/2022
If re-elected to Council as a WRITE-IN candidate, I will ask Council to adopt legislative lobbying priorities at the state and federal levels focused on quality accessible education and workforce training.
With the mission of bringing Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter for our state, the Center for the Future of Arizona identified “highly educated and skilled population” as one of 7 shared values of Arizona citizens from a survey in 2020. For northern Arizona counties, quality K-12 education is placed in top 3 important priorities.
Specific legislative lobbying priorities include:
• Ensure all Arizona public schools have enough highly qualified teachers and principals
• Increase the number of Arizona high school graduates enrolling in universities, colleges or technical/trade schools
• Provide affordable, accessible, and reliable internet and technology to all students
Additionally, Flagstaff City can continue advocating to improve and expand transit services to outlying areas for students and teachers.
What actions should the city take to address Flagstaff's cost of living? Published 9/18/2022
It’s important to engage multiple community partners – public, private, and nonprofits -- toward growing wealth, increasing consumer buying power, and accelerating job creation in the community.
The cost-of-living index states housing is 66% higher in Flagstaff than the rest of the country. There’s a shortage of 8,000 housing units for Flagstaff workforce. It’s imperative to create meaningful impactful partnerships with nonprofits and developers to build workforce housing.
Keep attracting high-wage low impact jobs in advanced manufacturing, astronomy, bioscience, craft brewing, digital/e-commerce, healthcare and forestry. Empower business partners to work diligently to excel in job creation, innovation, entrepreneurship, global business, and quality workforce training.
Embrace eco-tourism as a major economic driver, revenue producer and creates over 9,500 jobs.
Development timelines are difficult to follow and costly. This leads to sentiments that Flagstaff is not business friendly. Streamlining and fast-tracking development timelines is key.
Expand public transit services and serve outlying areas.
How will you work to implement the 10-year housing plan, and are there other steps Flagstaff should be taking to address affordable housing? Published 9/11/2022
As the City implements the 10-Year Housing Plan, the goal is to substantially increase the number of available and affordable housing options for Flagstaff residents at all income levels and increase housing subsidies for our neighbors who are unable to afford housing in Flagstaff.
Leveraging existing resources, the City must seize opportunities to obtain state and federal funding for housing and housing-related infrastructure. There’s $60 million for housing trust fund in the current State budget. Included in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act is $3 billion for a new program called Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants.
The City must be deliberate in pursuing meaningful private-public partnership to create affordable housing units. Relaxing stiff rules and regulations and speeding up the process of developing affordable housing are crucial. We need to support more projects like the tiny homes being built by Habitat for Humanity and repurposing existing motels into transitional housing.
How should Flagstaff be managing its growth? Published 9/4/2022
As Flagstaff evolves and grows, it’s imperative the entire community, stakeholders and partners are on the table in shaping the future of our city:
• Flagstaff Regional Plan 2045 Update is underway. Serving as the general plan for Flagstaff and Coconino County Comprehensive Plan, it covers current conditions and the community's vision for the future: land use and development, housing, natural resources, transportation, and sustainability. The plan needs voters’ approval upon completion.
• Regional economic development organization Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona’s (ECoNA) consists of Flagstaff, Winslow, Sedona, Camp Verde, and Coconino County. ECoNA is undertaking a strategic planning process covering economic development analysis, sector and workforce development, workforce housing analysis, growth, and infrastructure.
• Regional transportation planning agency METROPLAN is updating the Regional Transportation Plan. Stride Forward identifies how the metropolitan area will develop and operate a multimodal transportation system over the next 20-25 years.
I serve on ECoNA and METROPLAN boards.
What is your opinion about Flagstaff Medical Center's impending move to a new campus? Published 8/28/2022
Northern Arizona Healthcare (NAH) provides leading healthcare services for Flagstaff and neighboring communities. It’s the only Level 1 Trauma center in northern Arizona, providing critical services for residents and visitors.
To meet the future needs of our community, NAH needs to grow and expand in another location. The proposed NAH Health and Wellness Village integrates in one building an array of surgical, emergency, ambulatory and other services. With a holistic approach to patient health and wellbeing, including Native American traditions and healing practices, it’ll bring the next generations of healthcare advancement.
The NAH Health and Wellness Village will remarkably contribute to economic vitality of Flagstaff and northern Arizona: $389 million in economic benefit for the community when completed; 4.5 million in annual tax revenue benefiting Flagstaff Unified School District and Coconino Community College; bolster healthcare job training; bring hundreds of jobs; and add 325+ housing units in Flagstaff by 2030.
Besides its carbon neutrality plan, what actions should Flagstaff be taking to combat climate change? Published 8/21/ 2022
I was the only “NO” vote when Council adopted the Flagstaff Carbon Neutrality Plan by 2030. It is ambitious, expensive, unattainable, and should be overhauled. The city must align with state, federal and private sector that strive for 2050 because the technology to get there is still being developed. Collaborations with all stakeholders and private sector, leveraging federal carbon credits, and engaging the entire community and special interest groups are integral to move the needle.
Strengthen environmental stewardship: fire safety, forest health, watershed protection, flood mitigation; protect open spaces, trails, and dark skies. Seek early forest closures.
Improve recycling program: business, residents and visitors would participate if the program were clear and concise. Stop trucking recycling to Phoenix.
Balance environmental, social, cultural, and economic aspects of sustainability. An environment that stifles business to thrive will further the divide of equity within our community.
Keep attracting high-wage and low impact businesses.
What lessons should Flagstaff take away from the pandemic? Published 8/14/2022
Through the pandemic our diverse Flagstaff community manifested profound resiliency and unity amidst adversity and uncertainty.
In March 2020, I connected Coconino County with a hotel that was designated as a quarantine hotel. I linked Flagstaff Shelter Services with three hotels to provide temporary shelters. I’ve been a strong voice on Council to direct federal dollars to local programs addressing the needs of our vulnerable groups.
Championing Team Flagstaff, the safety and well-being of staff and residents is the most important priority. I helped get public restrooms around downtown for visitors and vulnerable groups as businesses reopened. I worked with the City’s marketing team, Discover Flagstaff, on messaging for locals and visitors to play, stay, distance and mask responsibly as we are all in this together.
I strongly advocated on Council to allocate ARPA funds toward business retention, workforce training, and strengthen tourism. ARPA grant opportunities will be advertised soon.
Councilmember Regina Salas announces Flagstaff mayoral run by Brady Wheeler, AZ Daily Sun, October 22, 2021
KAFF94.5 FM/ AM 930 Jeff Kennedy Show Oct. 21, 2022
KAFF94.5 FM/ AM 930 Jeff Kennedy Show Sept. 21, 2022
KAFF94.5 FM/ AM 930 Community Cafe April 1, 2o22 Regina's accomplishments and ongoing policy and budget initiatives.
KAFF 94.5 FM/ AM 930 Community Cafe March 8, 2022 Host Peter Bruce and I discussed community engagement for Thorpe Regional Park annex 8.5 acre parcel (old public works yard). As we begin the journey in shaping the future of Thorpe Regional Park, I encourage Flagstaff residents to stay engaged. http://www.thorpecommunityinvolvement.com/ We are thrilled about #FlyFlagstaffFirst and Mountain Line offering transportation to Flagstaff Pulliam Airport! Mountain Line GO! Airport is an on-demand pilot program that offers rides from anywhere in the Flagstaff City limits to/from the airport for only $2. Download the Mountain Line GO! app today and leave the car at home on your next trip. www.mountainline.az.gov/goairport
Looking ahead, two of my policy and budget initiatives will be discussed by Council this month:
March 15: Consideration of hazard pay across the board for City employees and continuing with premium pay for law enforcement #EmployeeRetention and support our Flagstaff Law Enforcement Association Flagstaff Police Department Flagstaff Fire Department officers
March 29: Creating a Robust Workforce Development Program
KAFF 94.5 FM/ AM 930 Community Cafe Feb. 4, 2022 City Issues and Accomplishments
KAFF 94.5 FM/ AM 930 Community Cafe Jan. 13, 2022 COVID Protocols, Ballot Signatures and other City Issues
KAFF 94.5 FM/ AM 930 Community Cafe Nov. 11, 2021 (Veterans Day): Public Infrastructure Needs, Incentives for Veteran-Owned Businesses
KAFF 94.5 FM/ AM 930 October 26, 2021 ; Candidacy for Mayor Announcement
KAFF 94.5 FM/ AM 930 Community Cafe August 27, 2021: Flagstaff city councilwoman Regina Salas joined Peter and Dave this morning in the Cafe to talk about what the council is up to coming off break, recent flooding and more.
Letters to the Editor
COCONINO VOICES: Salas thankful for support in run for Flagstaff mayor, AZ Daily Sun, May 4, 2022
COCONINO VOICES : Carbon neutrality plan is too costly, too lofty AZ Daily Sun, Jun 23, 2021
COCONINO VOICES: No reason to limit Flagstaff police funding AZ Daily Sun, May 5, 2021
COCONINO VOICES: Salas' statement before Flagstaff City Council budgetary vote AZ Daily Sun, June 25, 2020
A response to story and letters regarding City Council and Brian Petersen AZ Daily Sun, Jan 17, 2020