Flagstaff, AZ – Intro) Flagstaff's primary election is underway, with residents receiving ballots this week. In part one of a series on the mayoral candidates, Arizona Public Radio's Theresa Bierer profiles the city's current mayor.
TB) When Sara Presler was elected nearly 2 years ago, she became Flagstaff's youngest mayor and the first female to hold the office. After she took the reigns, the city faced a 13 million dollar deficit with another 6 million dollar deficit for the next fiscal year. Presler says despite the economic holes, she was able to keep promises she made while campaigning.
"In spite of that very difficult deficit, we kept every patrol officer. We kept firefighters at their full staffing levels. And to me is full funding for the arts through the Flagstaff cultural partners."
TB) Right after taking office, Presler was criticized for filibustering the city's budget and calling for a hiring freeze . her mayoral challengers both served on the council who helped create that spending plan.
"But the budget that both my opponents prepared called for 90 additional positions and growth at the city of flagstaff. Here we are a year and a half later down 100 positions. Thankfully, through some good work of city management, only about 10 total layoffs. But we're facing more this year."
Challenger Joe Haughey says many of the proposed hires were for the aquaplex which was new at the time .public safety and positions partially funded by federal grants.
Presler says she's the candidate who can help the city through the economic trials ahead Her leadership skills were called to duty last month when Flagstaff received record snowfall and the city called a state of emergency.
"Because that means we're going to be working with the federal government, the state government and other local governments to try to find solutions when our resources are just stretched too thin. I took that decision seriously and I executed it seriously as well."
Presler is being challenged in the primary election by city council veterans Joe Haughey and Kara Kelty.
In Flagstaff, for Arizona Public Radio, I'm Theresa Bierer
TAG) KNAU will highlight the other mayoral candidates tomorrow and Monday.
Ballots in the by- mail election need to be turned in by March 9th.
Hear the entire interview with Sara Presler at our website KNAU.org