CLICK HERE to view a recording of the July 5 Sedona Mayoral Candidates Forum.
Text of the Candidate’s Prepared Remarks
Keep Sedona Beautiful informed the candidates that they would have an opportunity to present an opening statement, respond to 4 questions that we provided them in advance, and also give a closing statement. We invited the candidates to submit their prepared remarks so they could be posted here. Scott Jablow and Sandy Moriarty submitted their remarks, which are shown below.
From Scott Jablow (presented by Lin Ennis):
I’m sorry that I can’t be there with you all today. I tested positive for Covid and have had mild symptoms for a short period and today is my last day of quarantine. I do hope to see everyone at tomorrow’s League of Women Voters Candidate Forum at the Sedona Performing Arts Center
My name is Scott Jablow and I am currently your Vice-Mayor. My wife Janet and I have owned our home in Sedona for 16 years.
Back in NY, I was a police officer for 30 years. I have been a community leader back in NY for over 20 years, accomplishing positive changes on numerous quality of life issues. Then and now I have interacted with our local county and municipal leaders and I know how to engage with the community.
Soon after moving to Sedona, I realized that I wasn’t ready to fully retire so I did what I have always done, I got involved with the community and looked for ways to give back.
In Sedona I have held various positions over the years:
- Elected to a 3-year term as a Sedona Fire District Governing Board Member
- Appointed to a 3-year term as a Member of the city’s Personnel Board
- Appointed twice as a Planning and Zoning Commissioner
- Elected 2 terms as a City Councilor, serving as vice mayor for the last two years.
From Sandy Moriarty:
Good evening, everyone, thank you for coming tonight and thanks to KSB and the two alliances for hosting this forum. I have been the Mayor for nearly eight years now, and it has been a learning experience like no other. In the 70’s and 80’s, I worked on three different committees over a period of fifteen years to get Sedona incorporated so that we could make decisions for our community in the community rather than in two counties with decisions made in either Flagstaff or Prescott. We finally succeeded with an election in December of 1987 and were incorporated in January of 1988.
I was appointed to the first city council and served until the end of May 1988, when the first elected council took over. I also served on the Housing Commission for six years and the WEDLU Task Force for two years prior to running for Mayor in 2014. I’m a problem-solver, a negotiator, and a life-long learner, and I’ve lived in Sedona for 50 years, so I know Sedona and the Verde Valley very well.
Recent accomplishments on my watch are the Climate Action Plan, the Sustainable Tourism Plan, The Housing Study and Action Plan, hiring a Housing Manager, The Emergency Preparedness Guide, hiring a transit director, acceleration of trailhead shuttles to be followed by a full transit plan, and still in process are the Forest Road extension, citywide study of evacuation routes, the Forest Rd Parking Garage, the Tlaquepaque underpass, and the Community Plan Update.
My other community involvement and more information is available on my website, MayorSandy.com.
Question #1: How do you believe that climate change will impact the residents of Sedona and how will you, as Mayor, advance the City of Sedona’s Climate Action Plan?
From Sandy Moriarty:
Climate change will impact all residents of Sedona, but in different ways, depending on preparedness and capacity to deal with the impacts. Since the climate is generally trending hotter over the long term, those most directly affected will be the homeless, followed by those who do not have adequate cooling systems in their homes. Even those who do have adequate cooling systems may not be able to afford the cost to run them regularly. And those who work outdoors in the summer will encounter increasingly hotter temperatures. And that’s just for starters.
There are many other effects which are still being identified, including some which are counterintuitive, and vary from region to region. Perhaps one of the most serious is how our water supply will be affected.
As Mayor, I will continue to strongly support both the goals of the Plan and its implementation and tracking, which means supporting the staff and budget needed. Wildland fires and other extreme weather events, which have not taken place in the city recently, could happen at any time, with severe effects. It is important that we prepare and educate ourselves about the possibilities, and that we talk to friends and neighbors about the issue and the Climate Action Plan.
I meet regularly with the other mayors and various agency partners so we can respond to climate change by working together, since effects of climate change do not stop at boundaries. I will continue to work on the Sustaining Flows Collaborative, which works to maintain perpetual flows in the Verde River, of which Oak Creek is a tributary.
As effects become more extreme, the city may need to provide cooling centers and perhaps financial assistance to those who need it most, in order to maintain safe households. We must remain flexible and resilient in order to respond appropriately to whatever effects we may have. In an economy still reeling from the effects and uncertainty of a once in a lifetime pandemic, that uncertainty will only be exacerbated by climate change.
From Scott Jablow:
I grew up recycling everything that I could and saving every drop of water. The value of our natural resources is something that I deeply feel.
As a member of the Council, I came to better understand the issues of the climate crisis and its impact on us here in Sedona and all over the world. I’m worried about the air we breathe and about our water quality, and regionally, the strain on our water supply, overall.
As a counselor, I knew that we needed the best people on staff to educate the council and community. That is why I supported the creation of a sustainability manager position and later supported adding 2 additional staff positions. Sedona has taken great strides toward doing our part as environmental stewards. We have adopted a Sedona Climate Action Plan and set goals of 50% Green House Gas Emissions by 2030. That is ambitious, but I believe it is our responsibility to take these steps.
While the position of Mayor holds just one of seven votes, I intend to use my vote and my voice to encourage my fellow council members to continue moving forward with our projects that will reduce our Carbon Footprint like incentivizing building development improvements and having a robust Public Transit system.
This year we launched the first phase of transit, with trailhead shuttles to start getting people out of their cars. These units are currently Hybrid but we are in the process of developing the infrastructure necessary to support future phases of transit to be fully electric.
I also support the transition of the city’s vehicle fleet to Hybrid or Fully EV. I supported bringing solar to the city campus and would like to see it expanded to other locations.
Other programs are being implemented are:
- home energy retrofit program
- a pilot program for composting,
- curbside yard waste pickup,
- a solar co-op,
- EV charging stations
- and the list goes on.
These programs are diverse because there isn’t one solution to the climate crisis – we have to address this from many angles if we want to make a positive difference.
Question #2: What aspects of the Sedona Climate Action Plan do you feel are the most important? Please be specific.
From Scott Jablow:
I mentioned transit which I think is critically important. Getting people out of their vehicles and creating a “park once” culture where residents and visitors can get wherever they’d like to go conveniently and efficiently via a fleet of electric buses will contribute greatly to our CAP goals (and also reduce traffic congestion).
The other area that the CAP identifies as critical is buildings and energy (like heating and cooling), which accounts for 79% of our emissions. This is an area with a big opportunity for Green House Gas reductions. We can do things like offer home retrofit programs to our residents and we can make city facilities greener.
We could also look at business incentives to make their facilities more energy-efficient, I believe about half of our anticipated emission reductions in this area in the CAP are related to work by APS. We are heavily reliant on them keeping their commitments to transition their energy sources to clean and renewable if we are going to achieve 50% by 2030. As Mayor, I will stay in communication to keep APS’ feet to the fire.
From Sandy Moriarty:
As we move forward with the plan, it is critical that we have solid baseline data so we can track our progress toward our goals, and that we capture our methodology as we do, both internally in the city and citywide in the community. Drought conditions both statewide and locally may be the most significant issue we face, as I stated previously. No one survives without water.
In the fifty years I’ve lived here, I have watched the monsoon season change. When I moved here in 1972, monsoon season meant that most summer afternoons, beginning around the 4th of July, the clouds would build in the late morning, and it would often rain after lunch. I haven’t seen that happen for many, many years. Now, we think we have had monsoon weather when we get three or four storms a month, and then it may be a downpour that mostly runs off. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at record low levels, affecting both water and power supplies.
While urban areas have Active Management Areas, or AMA’s, to allow them to store water and plan for future water shortages, rural areas have no tools whatsoever to do so, and we need them, but they must be allowed by the state. Water rights in the state have been in litigation for over 40 years, with no end in sight, and the rights being settled are only related to surface water, not ground water, while wells have proliferated over the last fifty years.
This too needs to change, also at the state level. In the budget adopted during the 2022 legislative session, significant funding for water projects has been allocated, but it remains to be seen how exactly it will be used. We must move forward with a citywide transit system so that we can stay on the path to getting cars off the road.
Climate resilience must remain a council priority which carries through to the budget process to assure implementation. Both the Mayor and the council must provide strong leadership to implement the Plan.
Question #3: According to the Climate Action Plan, transportation accounts for approximately 18% of our greenhouse gas emissions while heating and cooling accounts for approximately 79%.
- Do you support subsidizing public transportation so that it can be made free to all?
- Do you support requiring all new residences to install electric heat pumps?
From Sandy Moriarty:
1. Yes, I support subsidizing public transportation, but whether or not it should be completely free for all remains to be seen. Cost should not be a major deterrent to anyone wanting to use the transit system, and there should be incentives to use it. All new development should be as transit friendly as possible and should look for ways to incentivize its use.
It should be noted that because we take Federal dollars, the city cannot make transit free only for some, we cannot discriminate, and we must follow all Federal rules. The question goes beyond can it be made free for all to can we afford to make it free for all? We are a long way from final build-out of the system, and there will be several policy decisions to be made along the way, including those related to fare or no-fare. Fares generally support about 15% of the cost of a transit system. It is simply too early to make the decision for what is likely to be a minimum five-year build-out.
2. Requiring is a very strong word. It means there would be no choice, and it would be a mandate. Due to the cost, I would prefer to begin with significant incentives. Perhaps in the future, a mandate will be necessary, but at the moment, I would favor incentives. My mind remains open, and I believe this issue needs further in-depth study and consideration before a firm decision is made.
From Scott Jablow:
1. I HAVE supported our full transit system which includes bussing, trailhead shuttles, and micro-transit where residents can request a car to pick them up at home. The current approach and what I have and will continue to support is to make the core routes all free to encourage ridership. I supported this first phase of the trailhead shuttles being free for the same reason.
The micro-transit or door-to-door system is a bit different than the other two types of transit. As of now, it has not yet been fully vetted enough for me to draw a conclusion as to what pricing if any should be. But this is just one component of the service to be considered. My concern is the impact on local private sector businesses such as UBER. I would not want to unintentionally harm any private sector business. This is a brand new type of public service, so I want to make sure we fully understand the implications of any decision before committing to absolutes. Even if there does end up being a fee for the door-to-door service, it will be subsidized as all public transit is, and the goal is to make it more cost-effective than using a personal vehicle.
2. I believe that electric heat pumps are a great step towards cutting dependence on oil or gas. They and other sustainable building techniques should be incentivized. I am concerned about any unintended consequences of “requiring” them in newly built homes. I would need assurance that a mandate like this doesn’t make it harder to build homes and keep the cost of building out of the reach of those who may want to build homes, for permanent housing stock. Currently, the City’s Land Development Code does incentivize projects like solar and lower water use. I think heat pumps could be similarly treated.
Question #4: Given that we’re in the midst of the most severe drought in the last 1,200 years, what should the City of Sedona do in response to the environmental changes we’re experiencing?
From Scott Jablow:
When I hear about what environmental changes Sedona can experience, the first things that come to mind are FIRE and FLOODING. For the past several years we have had less and less rain. That means the vegetation that surrounds our homes is tinder. We can have flooding from just one monsoon or there can be a cloud burst in Flagstaff and Oak Creek can overflow while we have clear skies in Sedona. I always ask the question; ARE WE PREPARED? This is why I supported our T.H.I.R.A. or Threat & Hazard Identification Risk Analysis. What threats & hazards can affect our community? If they happen, what impacts would they have on our community? The Sedona Fire Chief and our Police Chief have been working with our County Partners to create Community Emergency Preparedness Guide in English and Spanish so that not only will residents know when or how to leave but how to RETURN as well. Changes in our climate and environment must be included in our plan analysis.
Our stormwater master plan process and the major drainage improvements that were done over the years have mitigated flooding tremendously, most people don’t realize that we are doing drainage projects every year. As of the last report, we are already almost 50% completed for this year’s schedule.
From Sandy Moriarty:
As I stated previously, rural areas need better tools to address drought and water shortages. Our Land Development Code has requirements for all new builds to be solar-ready and electric vehicle or EV-ready and I believe it requires low-water use fixtures and landscaping, at least on commercial properties. City operations are already practicing water conservation, but since the City doesn’t own the water utility, we are not in a position to incentivize with a rate structure.
The Friends of the Verde River have a River Friendly Living Program which inspires a culture of voluntary river conservation which recognizes homes, businesses, farms, ranches, real estate developments, congregations, communities, and others that do their part to protect the Verde River for future generations. We may be able to use that program as an incentive to offset some of our fees for those who use it. Perhaps we could also offer free removal of landscape debris when homeowners remove landscaping that is not fire-wise.
We all need to do our part as individuals, as well, in the choices we make every day regarding water use and be more mindful of how much water we’re using.
From Sandy Moriarty:
I’d like to share some facts about Home Rule This is definitely related to environmental protection, the Sustainable Tourism Plan and the Climate Action Plan because it allows us to spend the funds we have on the implementation of both plans.
Home Rule is one of two alternatives to the State Expenditure Limitation, the other being a Permanent Base Adjustment. The one-Time Override is just that, it is not an alternative, according to the Auditor General. We often talk about the state not giving us local control, as with vacation rentals, but Home Rule is an opportunity to have local control over our budget. Opponents are stating just the opposite, but that is just not true. Please go to the Auditor General’s website for the truth.
A NO vote on Home Rule will not allow voters to vote on the budget by using the One-Time Override, the budget process remains exactly the same and will be voted on by the council as all municipalities do. Two thirds of Arizona’s 91 cities have adopted Home Rule and about one quarter have adopted a Permanent Base Adjustment, or PBA. Please do not be fooled by social media posts which are spreading misinformation on this topic.
Please vote for local control by voting YES on Home Rule.
In summary, I believe my proven leadership and experience as mayor for 8 years counts, and I’m asking for your vote. Please visit my website, MayorSandy.com, for more information.
From Scott Jablow:
I KNOW the time has come for serious change. Not necessarily in our direction, but most certainly in our in how we get there and how fast we can do it.
Engaging and listening to our residents is most important to me and something that I have been doing for 8 years on council. I plan to expand opportunities for citizen engagement once I am elected as your mayor.
Many people know that I make a point of “having my finger on the pulse of this city”. When I receive emails from our residents, I make the effort to call each person back to learn more about the person’s opinions. It’s not uncommon for me to chat on the phone with someone for an hour at a time. I have also had face-to-face gatherings with residents, business owners, HOAs, and neighborhood groups for years. And YES, there are several instances where I have changed my position on a particular project because of those discussions.
I would like to expand this idea and “Take the Show on the Road” by having 2 or 3 councilors meet in a Town Hall setting, with groups of neighbors.
While the mayor’s position is very important, his/her vote means the same as the other six councilors. One thing that is different is the use of the seat to work with other cities and county governments. I want to use the forums available to increase and better develop those relationships. For example, there is a monthly meeting that is held with the other cities and towns in the Verde Valley. As your next Mayor, I would use those meetings to encourage those cities to join with us in a coalition on such topics as Concerns over the future of the Verde Valley Medical Center and Yavapai College, just to name a few.
I will work collaboratively on all of the issues that face our council.
Again, I am sorry that I could not be here personally. I hope that I can count on your vote in the August Primary. If you are interested in learning more about me please visit my website ElectScottMayor.com or call me at home: 928-239-1720