COTTONWOOD – “I’ll be one of the biggest cheerleaders you could have,” said newly appointed Cottonwood Vice Mayor Kyla Allen to Mayor Tim Elinski after he explained why he gave a no vote to her appointment.
Q and A with new Vice Mayor Kyla Allen
By JENNIFER VOLPE
How do you feel about being appointed vice mayor?
I am very excited about being appointed Vice Mayor for the City of Cottonwood and hope it will be a productive year. I’m grateful to those council members who expressed faith in my ability to fulfill the vice mayor position obligations, and want to express particular thanks to Council Member Tosca Henry. Though nominated, she did not receive the appointment but showed true leadership by immediately congratulating me after the vote. This was a true expression of good governance and I hope more of those on Council can embrace this attitude.
How do you plan to serve in your new role?
One goal is to improve communication between our citizens and the council. I have heard numerous times that we don’t care about certain groups because the mayor and or vice mayor are not present at their events. Both the mayor and past vice mayor work hard for a living and find it difficult to attend many daytime events. Being fairly recently retired, I have the ability to attend those meetings and events with hopes that this will open more avenues of communication with our citizenry and ensure our interest in their needs.
Another goal is to improve communication among the city council itself. The appointment last night was a good illustration of the current split among the mayor, vice mayor and council members and my hope is that by being placed in this position, we can have improved communication and dynamics, allowing the council to “get on the same page” more often.
A council that continually votes the same way on any item is not necessarily a council that best represents the people, as we need those devils advocates to truly explore items brought before us. However, that being said, a split among the council can have just as destructive a consequence when everything becomes, “how is this going to affect me or my agenda,” rather than how is this going to affect our constituents. My hope is that improved communication will ensure an alignment of goals and objectives among all the council members.
Why do you think you were the one appointed to the vice mayor, with the majority of council voting in your favor?
Perhaps the foremost reason for being appointed is my main agenda is all encompassing. I am a graduate of the Verde Valley Leadership Program and believe in the concept of Servant Leadership. In a nutshell, I want to serve. I want to serve as many of our citizens as I can. Democrat, Republican or Independent, pro-growth or anti-growth, rich or poor, young or old, I am open minded and truly want to hear why people feel the way they do on any topic, and then serve them the best way I can. This of course does not mean I can be everything to all people. But was it does mean is that you will be heard and your thoughts will be considered in future decisions.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I do need to express my concern with a comment made after the vote. It was intimated that because I was appointed to the council rather than nominated, I am not a true representative of the people. It was an enlightening statement and did much to explain the reason I am treated a certain way by some individuals however, to me this is political jockeying at its best (or worst.) I was appointed and as such, I am a council member. This is the process and once that title rests on my shoulders, elected or appointed should not be taken into consideration.
My desire to serve is no less and certainly, if anything, at this point I do not have any campaign promises I am trying to fill. My concerns are in serving all the citizens of the incorporated City of Cottonwood first and foremost, to the best of my ability. My appointment, my experience working with the city government, my people skills, the fact that I truly enjoy meeting the remarkable people who have chosen to live within our community, and my sincere care and concern about their future, is everything it takes to be an effective and responsive vice mayor.
“I implore you to step back and give me a chance of what I can do,” urged Allen.
Allen was appointed after a previous motion to appoint Council Member Tosca Henry for vice mayor failed Tuesday evening at a Cottonwood City Council meeting.
Vice Mayor Ruben Jauregui, after thanking Elinski for allowing him to serve, motioned to nominate Henry, with himself, Elinski and Henry in favor.
Council Members Deb Althouse, Linda Norman, Karen Pfeifer, and Allen voted no.
“I was humbled by Council Member Jauregui’s confidence in my leadership abilities. I have tremendous respect for him and his many years of dedication to our community. I appreciate his and Mayor Elinski’s support for the nomination,” said Henry in an email to the Verde Independent.
Council Member Deb Althouse then nominated Allen. The motion passed with dissenting votes from Jauregui and Elinski.
Elinski said his reasoning stems from the fact that Allen was appointed to the council rather than elected.
“I voted in favor of the motion to appoint Council member Henry as vice mayor because I believe she would serve very well in this capacity. Through her candidacy and throughout her tenure she has garnered public trust and has been very proactive in responding to concerns brought forth by our constituents,” Elinski told the Verde Independent.
“The role of vice mayor should not be understated; in the event of the mayor’s inability to serve, the vice mayor would be required to step in and assume the duties of the Chief Executive Officer of the city, which is an office so important one must campaign separately and specifically to earn this seat. My reasoning for not voting in favor of Council Member Allen’s appointment (after the motion to appoint Henry failed) is simply because Council Member Allen was not elected. Council Member Allen applied for a vacancy on the council and was selected by the previous City Council to fill the vacancy. The citizens of Cottonwood did not have an opportunity to vet her as a candidate for public office. In the event I should be unable to continue my service, I feel it is my responsibility to ensure that my default replacement has the capacity and public trust to assume the role as the Mayor, and that they have been elected through an open democratic process,” he said.
Elinski said the same the same line of reasoning moved him to favor Jauregui as last year’s vice mayor appointment.
“…he was capable of serving in this capacity (having previously served as an elected council member and mayor), and as he received the highest number of votes from the electorate of Cottonwood. This same line of reasoning would have moved me to vote in favor of appointing council member Althouse or Pfeifer to the vice mayor role (had the motion been presented). I began my public service for Cottonwood in 2005 as an appointee. Before campaigning and being elected into office, I never would have assumed a role greater than an appointed position without the public’s consent,” he explained.
Before the vote
Before the vote, Althouse said that a vice mayor should be available during the day, or have a flexible schedule, to be able to attend community events. Both Elinski and Jauregui have not been able to attend all community events because of their work schedules.
Elinski, who works fulltime, agreed with Althouse.
“I’m not interested,” joked Pfeifer, who was vice mayor from 2007-2013.
After more than 25 years of service, she will not be seeking re-election in November.
After seating of the new mayor and council members last year, it was suggested the position of vice mayor be considered annually in order to give other council members a chance to serve in this position. Prior to 2007, the selection of the vice mayor was made every two years following a city election and the seating of a new council.
“Throughout the last year, Kyla has established a solid track record of involvement in a broad spectrum of city matters; she has not limited her focus to one or two particular initiatives or demographic groups,” said Henry.
“This is one of the main reasons why I think she will do well as vice mayor, and why I voted in support of her nomination. Council has a lot of important decisions to make this coming year, including taking a good hard look at revenue streams and expenditures.”
Henry said she is looking forward to continuing to work closely with Mayor Elinski, Vice Mayor Allen and her fellow council members.
The council holds regular meetings every first and third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at their Chambers Building, located 826 N. Main St. For agendas and minutes, visit http://cottonwoodaz.gov/129/Agendas-Minutes.