Clarkdale mayoral candidate Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer
Verde Independent: What is one of the top challenges facing Clarkdale leaders in the years ahead, that hasn’t been discussed much?
Prud’homme-Bauer: Clarkdale has been challenged during COVID-19 to keep our community safe and our citizens healthy.
As Clarkdale re-opens, we must be sure we open safely and address the immediate needs of our neighbors such as food security, rent/mortgage assistance and unemployment benefits. Then, we can continue doing the good things we did before COVID-19, while looking for new opportunities to build a more vibrant and strong Clarkdale.
I believe we need to be prudent with town finances and concentrate on ensuring the most vital town services are being efficiently provided to all residents by a strong and engaged staff.
Verde Independent: Property taxes are a bone of contention with some residents. What else could the city do to either cut expenses or raise revenue so as to avoid or minimize tax increases in the next few fiscal cycles?
Prud’homme-Bauer: Clarkdale’s general fund revenues come from these sources: Sales tax: 39% of revenues, local property tax about 12%, construction tax 2.5%, and state shared revenues 9.7%.
COVID-19 has severely impacted these revenues. We need to avoid raising the tax levy on property owners because they have also suffered losses due to the pandemic.
The town government must vigorously manage spending while providing the vital services and we need to grow our tax base.
We have businesses in Clarkdale, so we need to encourage residents and visitors to buy local while promoting new business in our prime commercial areas throughout Clarkdale.
Verde Independent: How do you think COVID-19 economic impacts will be felt in terms of the rate of new development in Clarkdale?
Prud’homme-Bauer: Residential development will grow because of COVID-19, with more people wanting to live in less populated areas. We need to make sure we have attainable housing for families, seniors, and working adults.
Clarkdale has opportunities for commercial development on Hwy 89A, Broadway, in our historic downtown, and other zoned areas.
We should recruit small businesses in manufacturing, skilled trades and professional services, retail (such as a grocery store), outdoor recreation, the arts, restaurants and those related to our growing wine industry.
I believe in development. However we must always maintain Clarkdale’s character: a historic small-town community.
Verde Independent: What are, in your opinion, the greatest obstacles to more effective commercial development in the town?
Prud’homme-Bauer: The biggest obstacle for more commercial development is the perceived idea that we are not business friendly. I want to say this very clearly – Clarkdale is open for business!!
If elected I would invite anyone to come and talk to us about your business or your business idea. We will work with you to find a location, help you navigate the process of building or remodeling a building, and we will involve you in our community.
Having a strong and sound business community supporting our historic, small town character is vital to having a vibrant and prosperous Clarkdale.
Verde Independent: Does it seem to you that there are “two Clarkdales:” older-built town and housing and commercial and residential constructed in the past 20 years? If so, is this bad or good, and why How do you preserve Clarkdale’s historical integrity and at the same time move into the future with modern development?
Prud’homme-Bauer: Our history, our small town, and our natural environment give Clarkdale its sense of place. This is enhanced by the people who live here, regardless of the area they live in.
The challenge in bringing our community together is discovering ways to connect our residents with each other and the wonderful assets throughout Clarkdale – six parks, a national monument, two museums, an extensive trail system, a community college, and of course the Verde River and Verde Canyon Railroad.
We have areas available for development outside of our downtown, so historic preservation does not need to compete with growth.
Verde Independent: Since large public gatherings are going to be discouraged over the next few years, and perhaps permanently, how must small Arizona communities rethink and reframe fun revenue enhancers like the Fourth of July, Clarktoberfest and Made in Clarkdale?
Prud’homme-Bauer: Clarkdale residents and businesses like fun and being together. Town government, business owners, local artists and residents already work together to plan and organize many community events.
As we find our way through the “new normal”, I am confident working together, we can come up with the best ways to celebrate and have fun in Clarkdale that respect the health and safety of all in accordance with state guidelines.
Verde Independent: Do you feel that, over the past four years, Clarkdale leaders have largely listened to and followed the will of the people, when possible?
Prud’homme-Bauer: In recent years, a lot of our town’s focus has been developing river access points along the Verde River in Clarkdale.
As important as the river is to our community and region, some Clarkdale residents have shared with me their concern that other areas of Clarkdale have not received the same attention from the Town Council. I agree.
Clarkdale’s government needs to better engage and listen to our residents and businesses to understand all the issues important to them.
When we do, I believe we come up with the best results for the whole community.
Verde Independent: What should be done to get use out of the shuttered industrial buildings in town?
Prud’homme-Bauer: We have to remember these buildings are owned by someone. We need to have ongoing discussions with the building owners on what could be done with the buildings and how they are promoting them.
Also, we need to be clear with the property owners on what the town vision is for the area, as well as any building maintenance required by town codes and ordinances. Being clear about our vision for our historic central business district, communicating with property owners and working with people interested in investing in these buildings is a good place to start to unshuttering these buildings.
Verde Independent: What are the most “green” changes Clarkdale leadership has made in the past decade, and what should be done next to go even more green?
Prud’homme-Bauer: Clarkdale has done a good job encouraging sustainable practices for water and energy –water conservation practices for town-owned properties, encouraging water saving options, promotion of solar and recycling. COVID-19 has highlighted Clarkdale’s next steps in sustainability…food security and water security.
We should focus on growing and producing food locally and creating opportunities to sell and/or share these products locally in community gardens and local farmers market.
We need to be more active with other communities joining them in the coordination of preserving water resources, as the population is growing and we all share the same water tables.
Verde Independent: Both you and the incumbent mayor have lived in town for decades. Do you sense Clarkdale’s view toward visitors and new residents, especially those from out of state, have changed, in negative or positive ways? And what are leaders’ roles in this view?
Prud’homme-Bauer: Clarkdale has always been a welcoming place for new residents and visitors. Our “small-town” way and attitude makes us who we are. We like to stop and chat with people, whether walking in our town parks, our neighborhoods or visiting our businesses and museums.
We encourage current and new residents to get involved in our town. The information kiosks around the historic downtown help visitors learn about our town’s history, as do our museums and library.
My role as a community leader is to be a welcoming voice, an interested listener, and a person that brings people together for all of Clarkdale.
Verde Independent: What do you already see as top 2021 state legislature priorities for the town?
Prud’homme-Bauer: The COVID-19 pandemic shut down Arizona’s economy for more than two months. The top legislative priority is funding the state government with decreased revenues.
The re-opening of public schools will require additional revenues to make sure children are safe. Clarkdale lost local and state sales tax revenues from businesses being closed.
This may reduce town services if belts aren’t tightened or the state legislature takes away our state shared revenues to bolster the state budget as they have previously. Businesses may have additional financial burdens which hamper profitability.
We have to carefully watch the debate in the legislature special sessions.
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