Election 2016 Q&A Round 4: Cottonwood mayoral candidate Timothy Elinski
Verde Independent: During the last several years many city facilities have been improved and been made safer for use by city staff and the public. Yet city offices are still spread throughout the city which creates confusion for citizens and increases operating costs. Do you support the funding and construction of a new city hall and how would you fund it?
Elinski: The city of Cottonwood has offices that span the city, which creates confusion and inhibits communication between departments, decreasing the efficiency of how our government works for you. An obvious solution to this problem, and one that has been discussed many times over, is to build a new city hall with a "one stop shop" atmosphere for the citizens. Unfortunately, building this facility (or remodeling an existing building) will be extremely expensive, and I don't believe our community can sustain another bond to support the construction. Perhaps through the sale of high value property that the city already owns, we can put ourselves in a net zero situation. I would support a new city hall if there is minimal cost to our citizens, and a facility that truly provides efficiencies. We may be years way from this goal, I believe in living within our means.
Verde Independent: There are several new projects underway in the Old Town area and the area seems poised for further growth and re-development. Do you support this growth in Old Town and what would you do to encourage this redevelopment? If you don't support further growth in Old Town, please explain your reasons.
Elinski: The recent redevelopment of Old Town has had many positive benefits, and our business owners have created a destination which draws tourist dollars to Cottonwood. We are also fortunate to have a majority of businesses owned and operated by local residents, not national chains, which keeps more money circulating in our local economy. There is, however, very high turnover in Old Town and we need to do a better job supporting businesses that wish to locate or expand in this historic corridor. This can be accomplished by reassessing our permitting process, the code requirements, and making sure we have an internal advocate to help these businesses succeed. We must also not forget that there are many more businesses in Cottonwood that need our support beyond this historic district. Through upgrading and streamlining our permitting process, we can ensure all Cottonwood businesses and new starts have the ability to succeed.
Verde Independent: What would be your three top goals if you are elected to be the mayor of Cottonwood?
Elinski: 1.) Engage the Community. I plan to be more proactive in sharing what your council does by using social media, direct contact, and better supporting our volunteer commissions. 2.) Increase Government Efficiency. I'm a business owner and have the skills to both plan ten years out and focus on the day to day. I constantly monitor the successes or inefficiencies in my own business and hold myself accountable which is key to progress. I will apply these principles in my role as Mayor. 3.) Prepare Cottonwood for a New Economy. Through marketing efforts I will brand Cottonwood as an entrepreneurial hub, shifting the focus of being a retirement community to more of a place where one can work and raise a family. By leveraging the resources we already have such as our airport, stunning natural amenities, and rural lifestyle we can attract people who bring jobs with them.
Verde Independent: Cottonwood has a council/manager form of government where the city staff is managed by a professional city manager selected by the city council. As the mayor, what do you see as your role in the city and how would you ensure a good working relationship with the city manager?
Elinski: Council/manager governments can be a great form of government that is both efficient and reliable. Clear and open communication is key to making this form of government work well, and as Mayor my role will be to establish and maintain clear lines of communication between the policy makers (council) to the city manager. Council sets policy based on feedback received from its constituents. The manger's job is to implement this policy. My job as Mayor will be ensuring we have given clear direction to management, to set clear goals, benchmarks and timelines, and to hold management accountable for the implementation of our goals. Professional management and professional representation elevates morale and creates trust amongst city staff and our citizens. In turn, it encourages more dialogue and public involvement. Through open and robust public discourse we, as a community, create policy that moves us forward in a positive direction.