Home > Elected Officials, Flagstaff, New Media, Politics > My Votes In The November 3rd Special Flagstaff Election

My Votes In The November 3rd Special Flagstaff Election

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Information pamphlets for the November 3rd Special City Election started arriving in mailboxes this week. This is the second batch of Charter changes that the Flagstaff City Council has sent to voters this year. These new ballot questions are much more controversial than the changes voted on in May that were largely needed to bring the City into compliance with existing State laws.

For those wondering, here is how I will be voting in the November 3rd special election:

Question 1: NO

Currently only the Mayor or three members of the Council are allowed to call a special meeting. A yes vote on this ballot question would allow the City Manager to have the same authority as the Mayor when calling for a special meeting. The City has not been able to adequately convince me that the City Manager needs this authority. If you have a good reason, I would love to hear it in the comments section of my blog.

Question 2: NO

This Charter Amendment would take most City personnel rules and regulations out of Council’s hands and give the authority to the City Manager. Again, the City has not been able to convince me that this change is needed. The Council deals with these types of issues so rarely that it is hard to argue that they are wasting their time. I am uncomfortable giving this power to an unelected official.

Question 3. NO

In 2012 the Arizona legislature decided to get involved in City elections and require City general elections to be held in November of even years. In 2014 the state lost their battle in court and cities were once again given the right to choose when they would prefer to hold City elections. This ballot measure would keep the City election in November as the State wanted.

I am opposed to this idea because I don’t believe City candidates and issues can compete for attention against state and federal issues. Imagine if Jerry Nabours and Coral Evans were trying to compete for media attention in the same election cycle as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Add in races for Congress, Governor, LD6 etc. and Flagstaff is lost in the mix. I care very much about local issues and would like to see an election cycle dedicated completely to the things we care about in Flagstaff.

Question 4: YES

This ballot question is the reverse of Question 3 and would set Flagstaff’s general election in the Spring of odd-numbered years. While I would prefer for things to go back as they were and elections be held in May of even years, this is the next best choice. A YES vote on this question means that Flagstaff’s issues and concerns will be at the forefront during the election cycle. It will ensure that the media will have time and space to cover local campaigns.

Question 5: YES

This is a common sense Charter change that eliminates inconsistent Charter language regarding elections and cleans up the document.

Question 6: NO

The City Charter allows citizens to submit a petition for a FAIR (Future Agenda Item Request) and currently this process only requires one signature. This ballot measure would change the minimum signature requirement to 25. While I understand that the City is concerned with anybody and everybody submitting FAIR requests, I don’t like the language requiring 25 signatures.

Think of it this way, requiring 25 signatures promotes a pure democratic form of government. The more people you get on your side, the better chance you have of getting your voice heard. On the other hand, keeping things the same and allowing only one signature supports a more representative form of government where a single individual has a right to be heard. The entire City may be against you but you still should have the ability to fight for your beliefs. Because I support individuals and individual rights, I oppose this ballot measure.

Question 7: NO

There is a good argument for this Charter change saying that it takes a lot of staff time and costs the City a lot of money to send purchases and contracts out for bid when they are in the $50,000-$100,000 range. The City makes a compelling case and I can almost get behind it but at the end of the day I am more comfortable with large purchases and contracts going to bid. The bidding process leaves less room for cronyism.


  1. Sacredpeaks
    September 27, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Elisha, I agree with your voting strategy on all the questions. On Question 1: By voting yes, this would be tantamount to giving the City Manager the same powers as an elected official but without oversight or accountability to voters. It would concern me greatly because it would allow the City Manager to make decisions that might have political influence or implications without the rest of the Council’s participation and public oversight. Same thing on Question 7: Bad idea. Too much power concentrated into too few hands is not a good idea. Bids could easily be subject to influence peddling and lead to graft and corruption.

    Thanks for keeping us informed!

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