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2015 City Election Voters’ Guide

City Election – Voters’ Guide

Voters' Guide_15_Photos

 

The Prescott Chamber of Commerce posed a series of questions to the candidates running for Mayor and City Council.  Their verbatim responses are presented in this voters’ guide.  There was no word limit imposed for responses to these questions.

 

Give a brief bio and explain why you are running for public office.

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Dan Fraijo

I’m a sixth generation Arizonan, born in Superior, Arizona and raised in Phoenix.  I have been married to my wife, Ana Maria for 27 years, have three grown children and act as legal guardian to my niece.  Of course, I can’t forget my two trusty canines, Mia and Quigley.

My educational background:  I hold an A.A. in Fire Science from Phoenix College and a B.S. in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco. I also completed training at Harvard University’s Senior Executive Program in State and Local Government.

During my thirty-nine year career in public safety, I worked my way up the ranks — from firefighter to Fire Chief/Chief of Staff in Boise, ID, Santa Barbara County, CA, Vancouver, WA, San Francisco, CA, and Prescott.  I have worked for five different local government structures.

My hobbies include playing classical guitar, collecting art, and listening to music. I share my passion for music by refurbishing and donating musical instruments to local schools or disadvantaged children.  I also serve on the United Way Board, volunteer with the Phippen Museum, Prescott Pops, Prescott Frontier Days and Yavapai Music Mentor Program.

My professional life has centered on public service and leadership within municipal and county governmental organizations.  I’m running for mayor because I am confident that my experience will translate, in a meaningful way, as a voting member of the city council and towards fulfilling the mayor’s specific functions as stated in the City Charter.

Leadership, vision, and implementation are my most developed skills.  As mayor, my goal is to use those qualities to communicate with stakeholders, my fellow council members, and city staff to shape a government that is sized to fit its functions and to ensure that those functions are run efficiently; devoted to the health, safety, and economic stability for Prescott’s citizens.

While serving as Prescott’s Fire Chief, it became clear to me that the City had room for improvement in the areas of workplace culture and communication.   I want to inspire a leadership and governance model that encourages positive, respectful communication, innovation, and support, all of which will translate into Prescott’s citizens receiving high quality, customer service and delivery of essential services.  With our general fund being challenged by liabilities and high priority needs, I will utilize my leadership experience to guide Prescott through what could be challenging times.

Harry Oberg

I was raised in Prescott and graduated from Prescott High School.   After high school, I served two tours in Vietnam where I received a Purple Heart, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Bronze Stars, 34 Air Medals (including one with V Device) and Legion of Merit for Exceptional Service.  I spent 33 years in the Army, and Army National Guard, where I retired as a Colonel and a Brigadier General in the Iowa National Guard.  I spent the final years of my career managing a $1.5 billion budget for the Pentagon procuring equipment for our soldiers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

As far as my education, I graduated from NAU with a BS in Accounting, the US Army War College, and Salve Regina University with a MA in International Relations.

I’m seeking the office of mayor because this is where I grew up.  I am finally at a point in my life where I am able to serve my hometown that has meant so much to me and my family.  Given the budgetary issues we face right now, I believe my experience at the Pentagon will be enable me to steer Prescott in the right direction.

 

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Jim Lamerson

I was born in Riverside, California at March Air Force base in 1951.  I married in 1972 and my wife Anne and I have one daughter, April.  I earned an Associate’s Degree from Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, NY and a vocational Graduates Degree in gemology from the Gemological Institute of America.  I am a Certified Gemologist Appraiser and Registered Jeweler with the American Gem Society.  I have lived in Prescott since 1979.  Having owned my own store in downtown Prescott for more than 23 years, I understand many issues affecting small business owners, their employees and commercial property owners here in Prescott.

I have been a member of the Rotary Club of Prescott since 1979 having served as President and two term board member.  I am a member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles.

I am a two term past Chairman of the Board for the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and served on the board for ten years.

I was Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Downtown commission, the precursor to the D.P.A. and P.D.P.

I have been a City Councilman since 2003.  I have served as Mayor Pro Tempore for six years under the direction of two different Mayors.  I served as the Chairman of the City Council’s Water Issues committee and was instrumentally involved with the short-term water policy.  I have been Chairman of the City Council’s Boards and Commissions appointment Committee, the Council liaison to the Planning & Zoning Commission, liaison to the Chamber of Commerce, City’s Code Re-write Committee, Water Conservation Committee and 2004 General plan re-write committee.

I am qualified with history, institutional knowledge and I know I have the ability to serve the City of Prescott and its citizens.

Billie Orr

I came to Arizona in 1968 and completed my undergraduate degree at ASU in 1970. Throughout college I worked as a waitress and attended school full time. In 1970, I began my teaching career at the Madison School District in Phoenix and went to graduate school and received my Masters in 1972, at which time I met my husband, Bob Orr, who was a pilot with the USAF. We were married that same year, and when Bob got out of the service in 1975, we returned home to Phoenix, and I returned to the Madison School District. In 1979, I decided to make a career change and joined Continental Bank. For the next few years, I specialized in banking with an emphasis on sales and management training for our 21 branches and mortgage services. I was promoted to Vice President of Human Resources in 1982.

When our only child started attending the local public school, I became very active as a parent and sought to help our local school system. When our son went into third grade, I decided to return to graduate school at ASU and in 1994, I earned a Doctorate in Education Leadership. I achieved my goal of becoming a principal and implemented strategies to build a high performing, site-based decision making school. With the assistance of a very talented staff of excellent teachers and supportive, involved parents, we created what I believe was one of the most dynamic schools in Arizona, Kiva School in the Scottsdale Unified School District.

After four years at Kiva, I was appointed Associate Superintendent at the Arizona Department of Education. In this role, my primary responsibilities were implementing and overseeing charter school development and creating the K-12 Arizona Academic Standards in all curriculum areas and the AIMS program. When President George W. Bush took office in 2000, I agreed to work with an educational non-profit organization in Washington, DC, to promote high standards and accountability, school choice, alternative teacher certification, and school reform. After three years in that position, I worked as a realtor and later, the Director of Advancement at Montana Bible College in Bozeman.

My priorities are my faith, family and friends. I am active in my Willow Hills Baptist Church community, and I am honored to be the President of the Republican Women of Prescott. My political principles are conservative, fiscally and socially.

My heart has always been in serving at the very local level. Whether at my church, my neighborhood, or at my work, I know the greatest achievements can be realized when those closest to the issues are committed to addressing and solving problems. My leadership style is to be proactive, listen to all stakeholders, and to plan for the future.  I am honest and sincere. I have common sense and promise to listen and be accessible as your representative on the Prescott City Council. I will work hard to do what is right for the citizens of Prescott.

Steve Sischka

I am a 35 year resident of Prescott, having come initially to Arizona to go to school at Thunderbird Graduate School in Glendale (Master of International Management ’73). My undergraduate degree was in Business at the University of Portland (’71) in Oregon. My wife Kathy (Olsen), a native of Prescott, and I have been married for 38 years. We have 2 children and 2 grandchildren. I have been a co-owner of Olsen’s Grain, Inc. since 1980 when Kathy and I established the Olsen’s location in Prescott. Previous to 1980, I spent 7 years with Carnation Company in retail grocery products sales and management. Community service is extremely important to me as a way to “give back”. I have been a member of Prescott Frontier Rotary since 1980 and have served in key leadership positions with that organization, as well as: Boy Scouts of America, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, Central Arizona Partnership, and Yavapai Regional Medical Center. I am a big fan of Yavapai Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Yavapai Humane Society, United Animal Friends, Frontier Rotary Summer Reading and Math Clinic and Catholic Charities. I have also been very involved since 1989 with Prescott Center for the Arts, performing in main stage plays and musical reviews, am an active member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and was a member of Class 2 of
Project CENTRL (Center for Rural Leadership). In 2011, my wife Kathy and I were named Citizens of the Year by the Yavapai County Sheriff”s Office. When I find the time, I like to ride my motorcycle, hike, snowboard, golf, play acoustic guitar, and be a kid again with the grand kids.

My background and experience can help the City of Prescott. Years ago, I came upwith the motto “Good enough, just isn’t!” for Olsen’s. That’s not just something I say, it’s something I strive for everyday. Having been a successful retailer and active participant in this community for 35 years, I feel that I have a unique feel for what it takes for the City of Prescott to survive the current challenges and thrive into the future. I feel that my longtime business and community oriented perspective will truly result in “Success 4 Prescott”.

 

Most people say that Prescott needs better-paying jobs. Assuming you agree, what can the City do to attract these types of jobs and should the City provide some incentives to attract businesses of this nature?

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Dan Fraijo

It is imperative that we continue our efforts to identify prospects that offer well-paying jobs and welcome them with our considerable business development and educational resources like the City of Prescott’s Department of Economic Initiatives, GPREP, REDC, SBDC, NACET, and SCORE, to help ensure their success which in turn will increase their contribution to the community. The expertise of these organizations, along with Prescott’s quality of life, availability of land around the airport and north Prescott, and low cost of doing business are excellent incentives.

Financial incentives in Arizona have, with some exceptions, been supported and issued by the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA).   When feasible, I support City issued Incentives as long as they are within our fiscal means, have been assessed for risk, established by ordinance, and their effectiveness is measured in terms of return on investment (ROI).

Prescott has always been a draw for entrepreneurs.  In the future, they will be the cornerstone of our economy.  Continued education and support will be critical to their success and sustainability.

Economic strategies must also consider water, commercial development, residential development and regional planning as components of one plan.  Any decision on one item may impact the other.

Sustainable economic development relies on a robust public process. Input helps developers understand the community’s non-monetary values, such as conservation of water and natural resources, livable wage jobs and affordable housing.

As mayor, I will leverage the relationships I have developed with leaders of regional cities and towns during my tenure as a department head in an effort to create a diverse economy with well-paying jobs that can support families and help our respective communities thrive.

Harry Oberg

Prescott needs more jobs and better paying jobs.  We can do this by expanding our vision of economic development for the city and not relying solely on tourism dollars. As Mayor, I plan to pursue our economic growth through not only expansion/improvement of our airport, but just as importantly developing  the area surrounding the airport with light industry and, if possible, future affordable housing. I believe that once we develop a realistic plan for improvement of the Prescott airport and complete the associated environmental impact statements, we will be able to secure federal and state funding for both business and commercial expansion.

I also plan to evaluate the feasibility of a bio-mass power plant for Prescott. Such a plant uses all woody bio-mass normally left in the forest and burned as slash. Other benefits are that it reduces the potential of wildfires, improves the aquifer and controls disease and insect infestation.

The city should consider public/ private partnerships for future ventures, and under the right circumstances, consider tax incentives to attract businesses.

 

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Jim Lamerson

Government does not pick winners and losers in a free market.  Providing exemplary basic services promotes the free enterprise system which in turn creates market driven jobs.  By providing solid basic services like police, fire, water, roads, sewer and trash collection the City facilities and attractive environment for business investment the City serves the community.  The city works with developers in a manner conducive for land mass availability for a quality school system, medical services, commercial and industrial zones and recreational opportunities for its citizens.

Billie Orr

Economic development is essential for every community. Our city leaders must be proactive in not only bringing better paying jobs and opportunities for Prescott, but also in providing our current businesses and enterprises the work force and support they need to prosper and grow. I believe the city should showcase the many positive aspects of our community. Companies would be hard pressed to find a better well-rounded, welcoming city in which to do business. However, the competition between cities for jobs is a reality. Yes, we may need to incentivize with infrastructure, but it is important that we create a balance of support for all our local businesses. After all, 75% of our business growth comes from existing businesses. True prosperity for all our businesses, new and old, means real prosperity for Prescott.

The city has done well with tourism and with retirement communities. I would like to see us capitalize more on the fine educational organizations in our community: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Yavapai College, Prescott College and JTED. Working closely with these organizations to create a well-prepared workforce is a win-win for Prescott.

I am pleased that Prescott has joined Greater Prescott Regional Economic Partnership (GPREP). We need to be good neighbors and cooperate in a regional effort with economic development. With the airport within our city limits, Prescott will benefit from regional prosperity. What is good for Prescott is good for Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Dewey-Humboldt and vice versa. Prosperity does not end at the city limits.

Steve Sischka

The City needs to continue to financially support GPREP. GPREP stands for Greater Prescott Regional Economic Partnership. This is a public/private organization that will have a huge impact on light industrial development in our area. Light industry traditionally pays higher wages and, for the most part, is nonpolluting. Incentives? I don’t believe in them unless there is a direct financial benefit to Prescott, such as the land lease/purchase situation with Trader Joes. The City stands to get a good return on their investment through the terms of the contract with the developers. I don’t agree with any plan which would rebate sales tax dollars. It is not the City’s job to make a business financially successful. It is the job of the City to facilitate an atmosphere in which a well run business can be successful.

 

The current City Council has worked for several months on the issue of proliferation of drug and alcohol rehab facilities as well as group homes in Prescott. Do you agree that these are a problem? What would you propose to do if the issue continues?

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Dan Fraijo

Yes, I agree that the proliferation of substance abuse rehab facilities and group homes in Prescott, especially those that are unregulated, present a serious emotional and financial problem to the City of Prescott and its residents.

The City’s Community Development department, city council, and numerous state representatives have made serious attempts to resolve the issue by creating stricter ordinances.   I would like to see even tighter regulation in terms of planning, zoning and building regulations.

Ultimately, we need state legislation to give the City latitude to regulate group homes in a way that matches the character and vision of Prescott’s citizens, while fairly accommodating disabled members of the community.  As mayor I will work tirelessly to do my part in communicating Prescott’s need for a strong House Bill supported by our state legislature in 2016.

Harry Oberg

The proliferation of unregulated drug rehab homes is tearing apart our community.  And this issue will continue unless there is regulatory oversight that, unfortunately, can ultimately only be implemented at the state level.  As mayor, my plan will be multidimensional:

1) create a dedicated task force where citizens’ complaints will be carefully recorded,

2) compile police, sheriff and EMS statistics regarding residents of these homes,

3) work with mayors from other cities as they compile similar statistics,

4) outreach to the CEOs of the drug rehab clinics and homes, and

5) report these statistics to Rep. Noel Campbell, our state senators and Health and Human Services to ensure they know our problem cannot be fixed solely through zoning.

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Jim Lamerson

Drug and alcohol addiction is both a mental and physical illness.  It is a difficulty that needs to be dealt with.  The proliferation and clustering of treatment and residential facilities in Prescott has presented an abstract situation.  Bad behavior or actions of individuals is not legally protected simply because individuals are legally defined as disabled or ill. The City will continue working with industry, State Legislature and Federal oversight agencies to address this issue in a manner that does not subject the citizens of Prescott to excessive penalties.  It is important to maintain Prescott’s character, property values and civil order.

Billie Orr

I have had the opportunity to speak with many citizens over the past year regarding their concerns and perceptions about the proliferation of rehab facilities and group homes. While I applaud those individuals and organizations that are trying to help recovering addicts, I do agree that these facilities have become a major issue for our city.

I followed the city’s efforts to meet with all the stakeholders and to work with the Arizona State Legislature, most notably State Representative Noel Campbell. His Bill H.R. 2562 was a positive step in the right direction, but unfortunately it failed to pass. I believe these sober living homes should be licensed, regulated and evaluated by a set of standards not only for the good of those individuals who are temporarily residing in the homes, but also the surrounding neighborhoods. I have heard the city respond that there are 160 + sober living homes. But the truth is we do not know, because they have no requirement to obtain a license. It is obvious that self-regulation has not and will not work.

Another issue with the rehab homes is the lack of an exit strategy. It seems that when a person comes to a home and is unsuccessful in his/her treatment, there should be a plan in place for the return of the client to the point of origination. These are common sense approaches that are best for the clients in the homes and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Another major issue is the group mentality of clustering these homes. This concentration of these homes and facilities within neighborhoods has had a detrimental effect. I supported the city ordinance to limit the number of clients in each home and the limitation of the proximity of homes in an area.

In my opinion, the city has not had a handle on this situation, and the lack of proactive licensing and regulation has contributed to this problem. The industry leaders need to step up and understand how they can become part of the solution by cooperating and helping to create standards, regulations and procedures that will not only help their clients, but their business as well. I hope they will work with Representative Campbell and the State Legislature to do what is right for the city, their clients and their industry. We all live in a wonderful community, and we need to preserve and protect the quality of life.

Steve Sischka

All businesses within the City have the unwritten responsibility to run their operations in an ethical manner. That means being good neighbors and helping the City to continue to be Everybody’s Hometown. Unfortunately, not all of the rehab facilities and group homes have lived up to their implied obligations. I’ve heard many complaints about clients of these facilities not respecting their neighbors, and have asked for perspective from the owners of reputable facilities as well as our State Representatives. Prescott alone cannot solve this. We need help from the State Legislature to develop universal standards of operation for the rehab industry Until that happens, however, we need to make sure that citizen complaints are followed up on by law enforcement and appropriate action taken.

 

What are your thoughts about the sales tax ballot measures that will be on the primary election ballot?

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Dan Fraijo

Debt Obligation: The PSPRS debt obligation is a critical responsibility that must be repaid.  I support the .55% sales tax initiative.  The alternative, unless outside influences intervene, is the potential reduction of city services and personnel.

As mayor and a professional with decades of experience in public safety management, I will do everything within my means to work with council and city management to lessen the impact of any possible reductions in service.

Streets:  I am opposed to single focus decision making.  Prescott needs street improvements but streets are part of a much larger infrastructure complex.  Water lines, waste water and sewage are also infrastructure and in an older city they too need replacement or repair.  The cost estimates for the utilities below ground are in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  I support the street initiative but I prefer a holistic approach that considers all infrastructure needs.

Open Space:  I support this sales tax ballot measure.  Open space and city economics are one issue.  As a destination city, Prescott is heavily reliant upon tourism dollars. Strategic open space purchases will pay benefits far into the future by broadening our outdoor recreation capital.

 

Harry Oberg

Streets: It is important we insure we have proper street maintenance for residents and tourists alike.  Therefore, I support the continuation of our sales tax for streets maintenance at the full 1.0% level.

Open Space: We have to view this matter in the proper perspective.  Prescott is surrounded by National Forest and State Trust Land.  Additional purchase of open space with taxpayer dollars only further reduces the tax base needed to provide funds for education and essential government services.  Moreover, given the potential of increased taxes across the board facing our citizens, I cannot support the open space tax at this time.

PSPRS: The PSPRS as currently constructed is an unsustainable burden on our taxpayers.  It is vital the State legislature properly re-structures the provisions of this system which ultimately entails amending our state constitution.    A .55% tax has been placed on the August ballot for voter approval.

 

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Jim Lamerson

I support asking resident taxpayers to prioritize how we spend their money.  Maintaining a quality road system is essential for public safety.  It is critical to address the public safety retirement system liability sooner than later.  Because of State and Federal statutes governing municipal asset liquidation, fund recovery application the need to address this situation before interest reaches a point beyond recovery, a sales tax plan is appropriate to ask Prescott’s tax payers.  Regarding the open space issue, passage should alleviate an additional burden on the general fund.  Acquisition of more maintenance responsibility and forest liability etc. is not something I support.

Billie Orr

There will actually be four ballot questions put to the citizens of Prescott: three Transaction Privilege (Sales) Tax (TPT) questions and the General Plan.

I have consistently attended the City Council meetings, study sessions and budget meetings for the city since October, 2014. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to speak with many people and listen to presentations offering both sides of the issues. While no one likes an increase in any sort of tax, I believe the city has presented fair and legitimate arguments as to why two of the sales tax increases are absolutely essential. Since 2006, the City of Prescott has cut 70 positions. While I believe, they should continue to explore models of greater efficiency, I believe the city should be commended for those cuts in operations while maintaining a full service city.

1% Streets & Roads Sales Tax:   I support the 1% Sales Tax for streets (replacing the 0.75% tax that is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2016). This tax, dedicated solely to streets and roads, will maintain a schedule of planning, constructing, and maintaining our city streets and roads, as well as gutters, drainage, bridges, medians and sidewalks.  These are all necessities for Prescott.

0.55% Sales Tax for the city’s unfunded liability with the PSPRS:  I support the 0.55% Sales Tax to pay off the $72 Million+ unfunded liability brought on by the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS). I remember sitting in the Council meeting when this issue was first presented to the city this spring. I was furious and remembered thinking how unfair it is to saddle the City of Prescott with such liability. I was stunned to learn that there is nothing the city can do. This unfunded liability is a debt that the city must pay. It is the law. A bad law, yes, but nonetheless, Prescott is responsible for this unfunded liability. PSPRS could disappear tomorrow, and the city still has this debt.

Quite frankly, I feel the PSPRS is a broken, unfair and unsustainable system. Cities and their citizens must demand that the Arizona State Legislature and labor unions sit down with elected city representatives and local business folks and come up with a solution that will stand up in the courts. This is a state problem and our state legislators must address it immediately. I have heard several proposals, and I do believe most stakeholders are sincere in their efforts.

I have heard representatives of citizens’ groups that are in opposition to the 0.55% Sales Tax say that we should just let the City of Prescott simply go bankrupt.  I think that is a devastating solution. Can you even imagine the impact that would have on our city? The last time I checked, fiscal conservatives pay their debts. This is a debt, and the best thing for our city is to pay it off as soon as possible and to demand our state government representatives correct this problem immediately so it does not happen again.

0.08% Sales Tax for Open Space: I am not in opposition to Open Space, but I think the timing of this tax request is poor. Until we have a revenue source and guaranteed plan in place to pay off the unfunded liability created by PSPRS, I do not feel the city should be acquiring additional open space. I did publicly speak at a council meeting in favor of a version that would have allowed flexibility for maintenance of current parks, recreation and open space. We have an amazing system of trails in place in Prescott due to the work of our excellent Parks and Recreation Department and a volunteer group of trail blazers, the Over the Hill Gang. The City of Prescott should put greater emphasis on maintaining our parks, recreation facilities and trails, not on more acquisition.

However, I respect that the City Council has chosen to put this issue on the ballot, and I will support the decision of the voters 100%.

Prescott General Plan:  I support the General Plan. I sat through several presentations of the General Plan. Council members and involved community members went through item by item, and made edits throughout the entire 116 page document. I have studied the plan, and it is very general, as it should be. I believe we should go further than the General Plan. I feel it is crucial for the City of Prescott to develop a strategic plan and be proactive in prioritizing solutions to the serious issues facing our community. I believe we have many talented citizens that would be willing to participate in this process. I would like for our city government to be more proactive and less reactive.

Steve Sischka

First, I’m glad that the council separated the issues into 3 distinct areas to vote on. I support replacing the .75% Roads/Open Space tax with a 1% tax dedicated to Roads, and I am also in favor of the .55% tax for payment of Prescott’s unfunded liability for PSPRS. However, I think that the time length of the tax should be shortened if the State Legislature comes up with a solution to reduce current liabilities. I am not in favor of the .08% Open Space tax as I feel that we are currently blessed with enough open space, thank you. However, if the voters approve the tax, I’ll work to make sure the money is utilized in the best way possible.

 

Do you personally take part in the City’s recycling program?

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Dan Fraijo

Absolutely, not only glass and paper products but also we encourage and engage in recycling all usable and functional items.  We donate items to Habitat for Humanities, St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army and other non-profit organizations that are supported by reusable products.

Harry Oberg

Yes, I participate in the City’s recycling program . . . and compost too.

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Jim Lamerson

No.  I personally recycle without governmental assistance unless it is for the disposal of biohazards, corrosive or other hazardous waste material.

Billie Orr

Yes, my husband and I fully participate in the city’s recycling program. We appreciate the efforts of the city to make recycling affordable and convenient. We live close to the Sundog Transfer Station and find it very useful.

Steve Sischka

Absolutely!