NAU students had the opportunity to hear from Flagstaff’s elected officials at a City Council Roundtable Oct. 18 in the University Union’s Havasupai room.
The roundtable allowed students to hear about different propositions on the ballot from City Council members and City Hall staff, as well as ask them direct questions.
The special guests speaking included Vice Mayor Jamie Whelan, Council Member Eva Putzova, City Manager Barbara Goodrich, Erin Grisham, NAU associate vice president of student affairs, and Cynthia Anerson, NAU assistant vice president for community relations and ASNAU adviser.
The roundtable began as NAU students and City Council representatives joined in a dinner and discussion. Students were seated on about eight different tables that included City Council representatives, NAU representatives and students. There was at least one representative and NAU official on each table with ASNAU representatives.
The presentations started shortly after the dinner with introductions from NAU’s adjunct faculty leader, Julie Lancaster.
ASNAU President Dylan Graham organized the event with the help of ASNAU representatives and City Council. Before the other speakers began talking about the initiatives, she discussed the significance the roundtable had on students and Flagstaff’s community.
Graham explained her intention was to engage students and leaders to help them really understand what they are deciding when voting.
“We would love for you to discuss student ballots and understand student voices along with ballot initiatives and how that affected them and NAU,” said Graham.
Graham also said most students are uninformed about the initiatives on the ballot, and that the goal of the roundtable was to help educate students in preparation for the upcoming election.
The presentations involved issues within Flagstaff such as road construction, public transportation and housing affordability. This gave students an opportunity to educate themselves, helping them be better informed voters.
The first presentation was about Propositions 419 and 420, which were proposed to integrate and improve Flagstaff’s transportation system.
City Manager Barbara Goodrich presented Proposition 419 an extension of an existing sales tax to fund a comprehensive travel map system that will help meet the transportation needs of the community, along with new roads and expansions to current roads to ease traffic congestion as Flagstaff continues to grow.
If passed, this would create pathways and routes that would allow for wider roads, sidewalks, bike lanes and foot trails throughout Flagstaff.
Proposition 420 is a new sales tax that would provide revenue for an overpass over the railroad tracks from East Butler Avenue to West Historic Route 66. However, if passed the tax would not go into effect until 2022.
“We are trying to improve mobility within our community,” said Goodrich.
The second presentation was about Prop 421, which would allow for more bus transit routes throughout Flagstaff. Erika Mazza, CEO of Mountain Line Transit, discussed the tax renewals for this proposition.
If passed, it will increase sales tax as well with the intention of responding to the public’s request for more frequent and later-running bus services.
In addition it would also include an NAU Universal Access Pass for students. This pass would allow for NAU students to receive free rides throughout the entire bus system, not just route 10. If passed, this proposition would go into effect Jan. 1, 2019, and the NAU Universal Access Pass would be in effect the following semester.
There was also discussion on affordable housing within the Flagstaff community. Prop 422 is the Flagstaff City Council’s proposed $25 million bond for affordable housing that would be repaid through secondary property tax, which will not increase existing property taxes. The goal is to encourage developers to build affordable housing by offering tax based incentives.
Following the presentations, the tables began discussing how to help students become better informed about not only what they are voting for but when and where to vote. This gave ASNAU and other students a chance to speak their voices and talk to each of the leaders at their tables.
More information about the propositions and the candidates running as well can be found on the City of Flagstaff’s website.