Flagstaff City Councilwoman and Mayoral Candidate Jamie Whelan

With Coral Evans term-limited from leading Flagstaff and seeking potential opportunities in the State Legislature, City Council Member and past Vice Mayor Jamie Whelan hopes to bring her leadership and civic experience to the Mayor’s Office in January 2021.

A wife and mother of two, Ms. Whelan and her wife, Laura Anne, own Flagstaff’s Old Town Creperie. As a small business owner, she realizes the challenges that face Flagstaff’s small business community and works hard at fostering a strong economic future. She won the most votes among city council candidates in 2016 and served as Vice Mayor from 2016 to 2018. She is still a member of Flagstaff City Council and holds leadership positions on boards like President of the Board of Mountain Line Transit, Regional Council member and Economic Development committee of Northern Arizona Council of Governments and other various boards and commissions dealing with issues like education, economic development, water and, mental health and youth wellbeing.

If elected to succeed Coral Evans as Mayor, Ms. Whelan will bring a wealth of private and public sector leadership experience to the office along with a collaborative and results-oriented management style.

Councilwoman Whelan graciously participated in a phone interview to discuss her qualifications for Mayor and her goals as a steward of that office.

The questions and her responses are below.

  • Please tell the reader what are at least two qualifications that make you ideal to become Flagstaff’s Mayor.

“When I was first elected I served as the Vice Mayor of Flagstaff for two years. The last two years as a council member of the City Council. I have had an excellent mentor in Coral Evans. After 36 years of teaching and many leadership positions, I am poised to be mayor. The experience from being Vice Mayor and chairs of various committees will bring much to the position. I understand that being a leader is listening to all. I do not go into the process with a predetermined agenda but with the ability to listen, to research, to collaborate, and to gain consensus in deciding policy vital to the community.” 

  • What are at least two reasons you are the best person to be Mayor of Flagstaff?

 

  • “My experience as a council member and vice mayor for four years. This will be so important in the next few years. I offer experience and leadership and strong relationships with others. In the future, we will stand at many turning points. To have no government experience would set the city behind and we cannot afford that, it takes a little while to understand the process.”
  • “Also, I’ve have helped influenced policy and empowered people.”

 

  • I have developed a strong network of colleagues, from being a special education teacher for 24 years, a university instructor training teachers for 12 years and a small business owner (making crepes) for over 15 years and in city government.”

 

  • In your opinion, what are at least three strengths of the City of Flagstaff?
  • “Flagstaff Character and the People: It is about how we live together and on this land together and how we speak to one another and how we help one another.”
  • “We are resilient with strong small businesses and owners.” 
  • “We have good city staff that is very proactive. We have an excellent new City Manager in Greg Clifton.”
  • “We all seem to be connected in how we live and how we do things like the environment, the sciences, and arts, and community kindness.” 
  • In your opinion, where would you like to take Flagstaff as the next Mayor?
  • Economic stability “If things do not grow and change, then we can become stagnant. We need to be flexible in our thoughts, planning, and solutions. We have taken action to put our community out in front of the Coronavirus.

 

  • “To promote attainable workplace housing and affordable rentals to create a stepping stone for people to find housing and economic stability.”

  

  • “What areas do we need to economically develop so we can get people to come and live here? There is a balance between attracting and housing a workforce, development revolves around making sure we create good-paying jobs and give better opportunities. Flagstaff is not just a tourist town. It also has the arts, sciences, technology and could be the next biotech and cybersecurity center of Arizona. We are the regional health care center of Northern Arizona. What we don’t want is to turn solely into a retirement community or tourist town.”
  • What are at least two policies from Mayor Evans you will retain if you are elected as her successor?

 “It is not about so much about policy but rather Mayor Evan’s limitless energy, moral compass and ability to promote equity and work across the board to ensure the community’s well-being comes first and that, I love and respect.”

  • As Mayor, what are the three most important issues that you would want the Flagstaff City Council and Mayoral staff to address?

 “We need to stabilize the situation from a Public Health Emergency to a thriving community.:”

  • “Our economy and stability”
  • “A realistic and balanced budget”
  • “ The health and resilience of our small businesses”
  • “Affordable Attainable Housing and rentals”
  • “Planning for our future”

 

  • What are at least three (one each) plans you would like to implement to make Flagstaff a better place for:

 

  • Flagstaff’s Residents: Implement our climate action and adaptation Plan, grow our walkable and bikeable community, lessen traffic, and addressing concerns of growth. Mayor Evans will not be there to bring these to fruition but I will.”
  •  Flagstaff’s Commercial Interests: Focusing on economic health and new industries like biotech and cybersecurity. Those companies that create jobs but have a minimal footprint. Flagstaff is attractive to those industries. People want to live, work and play here. We are already a leader in climate planning and water conservation.”
  • Flagstaff’s Cultural and Educational Centers: I would love to see a cultural and arts center built here. We are rich with indigenous cultures, arts, music, and theater. We have world-renown artists and authors. I also want to increase educational opportunities by giving choice for our students. Things like apprenticeship programs for all age groups. The Community Colleges are steering in that direction. We need to be able to attract and train our firefighters, police, health care workers, vet techs, and engineers. We need to infuse arts and education in our community and we need to provide affordable housing so people can have a place to live. 

 

  • Is there anything you would like the voter to know about you that was not addressed in the first seven questions?

 

  • “I am a leader, a skilled consensus builder, and a listener. I have a wealth of experience and experience leading.”
  • “I know how to work within governmental and non-profit systems.”
  • “I am a team player that knows how to listen, collaborate, find a consensus, and a facilitator of action. I will listen to the needs of our community and work for policies to address those needs.”

 For more information on Jamie Whelan and her candidacy for Flagstaff Mayor, please click on her webpage here and her Facebook Page here.