Election Q&A: Cottonwood mayoral candidate Tim Elinski
Tim Elinski Verde Independent: When you are Mayor, how might the City of Cottonwood change?
Elinski: As Mayor my primary goal will be informing the community about what the city council is doing for residents and create change based on the needs and challenges we face. I will work hard to ensure the public is engaged in solving the issues of our city and encourage our community to get involved to better serve you. As a 2013 graduate of the Flinn Brown Leadership Academy, I am connected with a broad network of leaders, policy makers and professionals throughout the state and have a greater understanding of Cottonwood’s role and position in Arizona. I hope to breathe new life into Cottonwood, and provide us the opportunity to move from the small town we’ve been known for into a progressive economic driver for the Verde Valley. I look forward to empowering our community to create the change we wish to see in our city.
Verde Independent: What do you see as the function of the Mayor, and what are the Mayor’s responsibilities and authority?
Elinski: The Mayor is the political gatekeeper to the city. As Mayor, I will be the initial point of contact for civic functions, community concerns, development interests and policy direction. As such, the Mayor should be respectful and approachable, balanced and assertive, honest and upfront. These are all qualities I have exhibited over my last 11 years of public service in Cottonwood and will continue to provide as the leader of our community. One of the most important roles of the Mayor is setting the agenda for the council. This involves keeping open lines of communication between all council members, listening to and gauging the needs of the public, and facilitating the best strategic plan in an efficient manner. The Mayor sets the course of strong policy for the city. I am prepared and ready to move Cottonwood in a positive, productive direction.
Verde Independent: How might Cottonwood’s economic development strategies change under your leadership?
Elinski: Cottonwood’s economic development strategies will change under my leadership. I plan to improve and secure our place in Arizona’s economic future with a particular focus on creating and enhancing educational opportunities for our community. An educated workforce will entice new industry to our area and support existing employers currently unable to attract and retain qualified help. I hope to shift the branding of our community from being a great place to retire, to a great place to start or relocate a business. Though our retirees are an important part of Cottonwood, focusing on this industry alone will not move us into the future in the same way being an entrepreneurial hub will. We currently have resources like the airport, undeveloped industrial property, the bourgeoning agriculture industry among others that can support this shift. I plan to leverage these resources and move Cottonwood into a more sustainable economic future.
Verde Independent: How can you as Mayor foster (improve?) Cottonwood’s relationships with other communities in the Verde Valley?
Elinski: Having strong relations with our neighbors is critical to moving Cottonwood forward. We cannot continue to work in a vacuum. We will be much more efficient by working in concert with our neighboring communities. Since forming my campaign a year ago, I have met with leadership across the Verde Valley from Clarkdale to Jerome to the Yavapai Apache Nation to discuss how we can best work together to ensure a thriving Verde Valley. There is an understanding that if one community is successful, we all benefit. Cottonwood needs a Mayor that can build strong partnerships while ensuring we benefit from our own unique niche in the economic tapestry of the greater Verde Valley. I have opened dialogue with neighboring communities and will continue to build on these vital relationships. Constant open communication between leadership is important to developing trust and discovering the ways in which collaboration will be mutually beneficial.
Verde Independent: What do you think Cottonwood’s place is as a regional player in the Verde Valley?
Elinski: As the economic hub of the Verde Valley, Cottonwood is fortunate to have a greater sales tax base than our surrounding communities, which helps fund the many services we provide. This comes with the responsibility of wisely spending the resources provided by our neighbors. It is a goal of mine that Cottonwood be a good steward of public dollars and a model for efficiency. Given that outside communities contribute to our financial stability, I will ensure an inclusive discussion around economic strategies and policy discussions. Additionally, Cottonwood should set the example around natural resource preservation and land use. Given our status in the greater Verde Valley, it is crucial that we set the pace while considering regional healthy growth and economic development. I look ahead to putting Cottonwood on the map as a model rural city, and fostering civic pride as a forward thinking community.