KNAU and Arizona News
10:18 pm
Mon November 26, 2007

Prescott 's New Mayor Takes Oath

Flagstaff, AZ – SFX: walking, traffic

Jack Wilson gives me a quick tour of Court House Square.

MORALES/WILSON: You're hard to keep up with. When I was in the army in basic training they put me in the front of the platoon because I have these long legs.

It's not just the long legs. Jack Wilson doesn't like to waste any time. He's been preparing for his new role since the days leading up to the primary. Prior to this run for mayor he's never run for office. In fact he moved to Prescott from Chicago to retire from 30 years at Amoco in the Information Technology field. He calls himself an unsuccessful retiree.

WILSON: I try to tell people what you see with me is what you get. There's no hidden agendas. I don't have a lot of ego. I'm getting rid of the desk in my office. I'm going to bring a conference table in there. I think a desk is a power symbol. I don't want a power symbol. I want to get people to the table so we can discuss the issues and move forward.

Wilson sees himself as the CEO of Prescott.

WILSON: If you look at the budget we're talking about here it's well over a $100 million you better consider yourself a Chief Executive Officer because your managing a business and if you don't do that you're crazy. The Chief Operating Officer is our city manager. We're going to operate like a team. I'm going to run this place like a business and I'm going to tighten up the ship a little bit.

After Wilson was elected rumors spread about big changes and possibly even mass firings coming from City Hall. Wilson says he's not permitted to fire anyone. That's the city manager's job. City Manager Steve Norwood says Wilson doesn't plan any wholesale changes.

NORWOOD: He's got what I call a 35,000 foot look at the way things ought to be. He's one vote just like every city council member. He recognizes that and he understands my job is to run the day to day operations. His job is to work with council in setting policy. He definitely has a set agenda and I think he will make some changes in those areas in special committees that are mayor appointed.

Jack Wilson's top priorities are regional cooperation, sustainable water solutions, illegal immigration, economic development and growth. Some people have accused Wilson of wanting to stop growth but Wilson says that's not the case at all. He believes in what he calls smart growth.

WILSON: Basically what it means is how you plan for growth and how you make sure your infrastructure lines up with how you're growing. It's not just haphazard growth. It's not sprawl growth. We don't go 10 miles out. We make sure we have the sewers available, the roads available, the parks, recreation, open space, libraries all planned. We don't do that currently. I think we can do a lot better job of that. It's going to cost us a lot less and we'll have a much better community by doing that.

He says in the past most subdivisions in Prescott were approved without planning for them. It's that lack of planning that inspired Wilson to jump into politics.

Wilson has a three-part plan for water. He wants more research before building a multi million dollar pipeline to carry water to Prescott from the Big Chino aquifer several miles away. That's a big switch from former mayor Rowle Simmons.

Robert Kooms runs the Chamber of Commerce center just down the street from City Hall.

KOOMS: Jack seems to be very very smart probably not as much a people person I don't think. It's going to be an interesting change and I think that's why people voted him in. Because they want a change? A change. That may not be the best way to vote but it should be interesting. Good morning. Prescott Chamber may I help you

City Manager Steve Norwood says we'll find out if people in Prescott really want a change in two years when there's another election.

For Arizona Public Radio I'm Laurel Morales in Prescott.