Byram comes out swinging

KINGMAN ­ Previously serving four years on the City Council and eight years as mayor, mayoral candidate Les Byram is back in the game, offering a fairly conservative approach to finance, often referred to as "pay as you go."

"We did all sorts of capital improvement projects, and we did that within the revenues by the sales tax and other revenue in the city, and everything is paid for," Byram said of his years on Council.

Byram said the city "should have plenty of money to operate this city if it is managed correctly."

"I think the city government, and the mayor and Council should do a better job of managing the money," he said.

"The only time there should be a tax increase of any kind would be a bond issue spelling out whatever projects need to be done in priority order and let the people have a vote on it," he said.

And if bond initiatives didn't meet public approval?

"Otherwise we would have to wait awhile until they (the public) feels that it is necessary."

Byram said the city has "wasted almost a million dollars during the last year with firing key employees."

"That million dollars could have been used to start Bank Street with five lanes, sidewalks and street lights, or used in some other areas of the city. I think that is wasted money."

Byram said money is being wasted to fund studies by outside consultants to address issues that should be taken care of by the administration.

"What are we paying them (officials) for? Let them do the studies and gather the information. No, I would stop the outside studies unless it's something that the city absolutely could not do."

Byram said most outside consultant work "has been used as justification for the decisions that have been made."

"I think we're growing too fast; the latitude has been given to developers," he said, adding that he did not like the portrayal of Kingman in a recent Arizona Republic story of being a "bedroom community for Las Vegas."

Byram said he is concerned about a previous community effort for a referendum to challenge a city decision. The referendum petition was thrown out on a technicality.

"I think the mayor, the council and the staff has an obligation to help those people when they're developing petition for a referendum," Byram said.

Water is another issue on the top of Byram's list.

"I think the city should be leading the way in conservation measures, to encourage our current residents and future residents for some type of dry type landscaping, conserving and preserving our water supply."

Byram said the amount of executive sessions in the last two years has been keeping the government's work out of public scrutiny, claiming there were occasions where "decisions were made outside the council meeting and just brought to the meeting and blind-sided the other council members."

Traffic? Byram questions the city's priorities with transit infrastructure.

Byram said the city should be focusing on Bank Street and "the side streets on all the major arterials throughout the city," in addition to improving Eastern Avenue, having Central Street pushed through and covering unpaved streets inside the city limits.

"We should be working to improve the infrastructure within the city that we have before we start extending the boundaries that become expensive projects that greatly benefit the land developers."Byram said that with the current mayor and council, "no neighborhood in Kingman is safe from expansion or adding additional units."

On any doubts or concerns of whether he may be too old for the job's demands, Byram said: "If I was, I wouldn't be here," quoting Ronald Reagan on a campaign pledge ­ "I will never make an issue of my opponent's age or lack of experience."

"If I am elected, I will bring back stability and accountability to the office, and I will represent the people, not the land developers," he said.

Born and raised in Melbourne, Ark., Les Byram moved to Kingman in 1955.

He and his wife of 46 years, Lyndal, have three sons.

Byram earned a bachelor's degree from Arkansas Tech University, a master's from Arizona State University, and an Ed.S. degree in administration from Northern Arizona University.

Byram has been a member of Rotary, Elks, Chamber of Commerce, Mohave Museum of History & Arts and St. Johns United Methodist Church, and has received the Chamber of Commerce "Lifetime Achiever Award." Byram has served 18 years as chairman of the Hospital Board and continues to serve on the Hospital Finance Committee.

As mayor, Byram sat with the State Transportation Enhancement Review Committee, was executive official of the Arizona League of Cities, chairman of Western Arizona Council of Governments, vice chairman of the Mohave County Water Authority, member of the State Rural Arizona Transportation Committee, and was Arizona's representative to the National Small Cities Committee. Starting in 1992, he served two years on the Council, two years as vice mayor, and eight years as mayor.