The six candidates vying for the three open seats on the Kingman City Council answered questions from the Miner Editorial Board Feb. 4 and 5. Each candidate was asked the same three questions, followed by a question each from members of the community who were asked to participate. They were Bill Delmar and Kathleen Murray. The candidates' responses to the three questions were printed in last Sunday's Miner. The candidates' responses to the questions asked by Murray and Delmar appear below. The election is March 9.
Bill Delmar: What would you do to alleviate the congestion on Stockton Hill Road from Detroit up to Gordon - Safeway to Safeway?
RAY LYONS: That's where the most traffic backup is, and I get aggravated, too, when I get out in that. Until I go to Bullhead City. Highway 95 going through Bullhead City makes Stockton Hill look like a piece of cake. So, if you can look at it from that perspective that we're not as bad off as other cities in this area, it doesn't seem as bad. But the only solution is widen it to another lane on each side. I think the only building that's too close is Brake Masters. US Bank, I think, is right on the edge. So, there wouldn't be much trouble getting the right-of-way, but the cost is unreal, and it gets worse every year. The only way you could pay for something like that would be through a secondary property tax like we had on Airway. It lasted 15 years and it was over like that. We don't have it anymore.
Delmar: What about connecting Smith's and Wal-Mart into a single shopping center?
LYONS: I agree 100 percent. And I'm not sure why they aren't. I guess the businesses don't cooperate well enough. Right now, they're talking about connecting the parking lot from Del Taco to Wal-Mart, because that's a nightmare. They need to be connected. Home Depot to the new Safeway shopping center, that should be a street, too. It should all be connected, and I'm not sure why it isn't. Right now we've asked Del Taco and Wal-Mart to do that, but we can't make them. Wal-Mart owns their property, Del Taco owns theirs. So, they're talking.
JASON MARINO: Well, it's a place I have trouble with anywhere from 9 in the morning to 6 at night. I came from Phoenix, and in Phoenix, every neighborhood has sub-neighborhoods, and you can go a mile one way and there's a grocery store that serves this area, with gas stations and restaurants, then you go a mile or two over the other way, and there's the same thing. We have a Walgreens now on Andy Devine and Stockton Hill that's going to keep me from driving my car over to Stockton Hill and Airway to get to Walgreens, and it'll keep me closer to my neighborhood for my retail needs. If we can have more than just one large retail center like we do now, and get people to shop and dine and get their needs near their own neighborhoods by bringing in more businesses, that'll alleviate a lot of the traffic.
RICHARD ANDERSON: I thought living in Arlington, Va., and going to downtown D.C. was the last rush hour I'd see, and yeah, from 7 in the morning to 7 at night, Stockton Hill Road is a rush hour. I believe we started our development a little quicker than we did the infrastructure to support it. We might have done better designing the road, I'd like to see it a little wider. They ought to time the stoplights a little better. Some of the left-hand turns and right-hand turns are a nightmare. I believe a traffic flow survey should be undertaken by some professionals. Where is Kingman going? Someone please tell me. There's a lot of vacant land along Stockton Hill and vacant shops. What are the plans for that so that if someone's going to look at the design, they have all the information and can look at where are we going to go, where are we now, and if this is where we're going to go, how are we going to make it smooth? Obviously, we need a better-timed stoplight system. I would recommend we get input from an area where they've had congestion. It's not 1882, it's not 1960, it's not 1980 - and I know some people in the community would like to keep it that way - but this is where we're at. It's 2010, we don't have people working, we have businesses that are closed, we have land that's vacant. We need to take all this into account and look at the roadway and the design to make it handle what's going to happen.
ERIN COCHRAN: Take the back way. You know, I'm not sure. That's really something where I'd have to sit down and talk with City Manager Jack Kramer and Public Works. I believe it is an issue. I believe that extra light at Wal-Mart has caused so much more congestion. I'm not really sure what to do. I do think that if we were to put in Rattlesnake Wash, the new off-ramps, that is going to alleviate some traffic because now you can hop on the freeway and go other places instead of having to go up Airway to the new hospital, but I'm still not sure what the best answer would be. I think it would help if they had a driveway between Smith's and Wal-Mart, but I don't think we can force them. I would like to find out if they can time the lights better, because I've had so many times where I've had a green light and you start to go, and the very next light is red. There must be some way to be able to make it where the majority of the lights are green or red at the same time.
JANET WATSON: One of the things the city tried to do a couple years ago was the improvement on Bank Street. That was supposed to be a parallel corridor. And the street's there, the sidewalks are there, the lights are there, and businesses aren't moving over there. The idea was to get ahead of the curve and do infrastructure before businesses moved there. I don't really know why they haven't. During the boom, a lot of people paid a lot of money for some of the raw land there that may no longer be worth as much as it was when they paid for it, and maybe they're not willing to take a loss. I remember about two years ago a supper club went though Planning and Zoning and was going to be built out there, but it never happened. So, I really don't know if the investors backed off or if they couldn't get along to build the buildings they wanted to. There are so many things along Stockton Hill Road, it would probably be impossible to get the right-of-way to have it widened. Somebody told me one time that, when it comes to Planning and Zoning, there should be more planning and less zoning. If you do the planning on the front end, then the zoning part becomes easier. I know it's created a situation in our community, and I'd be happy to ask some questions, to say, "Is there something we can do? This continues to create a problem, not only on Stockton Hill Road, but just people who are trying to go from Staples to Smith's to Wal-Mart."
ALLEN MOSSBERG: Well, it isn't a traffic problem from where I'm from, but it is a traffic problem. The only way you can fix Stockton Hill is to widen it, and you can't push back up into the businesses. The only other street we've got there we can work with is Harrison, and it'd take a lot of money, a lot of easements and a lot of rights-of-way we'd have to work with.
Editor Mark Borgard: What about getting interconnections between Staples, Wal-Mart and Smith's?
ALLEN MOSSBERG: They've tried twice on that, I think, and it's died both times. We have to make sure that never happens again, that from now on, we've got to dedicate a through-way through any future such shopping plazas.
Kathleen Murray to Ray Lyons: Has Council thought about revisiting impact fees? We have very few new developments on the agenda going forward, and the builders say that one of the reasons is the cost impact fees add to the cost of the home.
LYONS: The biggest part of impact fees is the transportation part, and this is one thing where I've disagreed with a Council decision. Shortly after the four new people started, we already had impact fees, and the Northern Arizona Builders Association approached us and wanted us to at least cut back the transportation part. I think Keith Walker made the motion to cut it back 75 percent, which is a big cut, and he didn't get a second. Then I made a motion to cut it 50 percent, and I got a second and it passed. Then, a month later, before it even went into effect, the Council overturned it. We do use impact fees for certain things, but impact fees, I'm not even sure they really do anything, since it used to be, when a builder built something, they had to do the street and the curb and gutter in the front. Well, now, we trade impact fees for that. We break even. What's the point, you know?
Murray: It's distressing to me to see at Council meetings so much negativity against growth and new industry. How do you see an end to this? Do you see a solution to growth, jobs? How do we get beyond this? How do we start moving Kingman in a smart growth direction with good jobs and good businesses?
LYONS: I wish I knew the answer to that. I would be pretty popular.
Kathleen Murray to Jason Marino: Has Council thought about revisiting impact fees? With foreclosures in town, the people that would want to buy a new home might be deterred from doing that due to the additional cost an impact fee puts on new construction.
MARINO: We need to have a singular message to businesses that says "We want you." As a city, we need to put in place what we can to allow them to come here. We need to make the process of permitting easier. We need to get the impact fees taken care of to make that easier. Everything needs to be easy for the business owner to build a building and start a business here. We don't want to tie you up in six months of permitting and $10,000 worth of fees just to build a house or whatever it might be. We want to make it an easy process that says, "We want you here, and we want your friends to come here and open a business as well." And word of mouth is a wonderful tool. If one business owner says, "Hey, I had a great experience building in Kingman, my business is doing well and everything's great. You too should come here." Those are the types of things that are really going to help the community and help people that are trying to develop commercially.
News Editor Rich Thurlow: If it were up to you, what would the impact fee look like? Would it even exist?
MARINO: It wouldn't exist. It simply wouldn't exist. I know the first reaction will be, "He's crazy, how are we going to pay for infrastructure?" But there are ways to work with the developers to get past those things. There are ways to get these companies to say, "You know what, we'll agree to do this to help get us in the door," and then we can work on it from there. You're going to create a lot of jobs by letting these companies come in.
Kathleen Murray to Richard Anderson: Has Council thought about revisiting impact fees? We have very few new developments on the agenda going forward, and the builders say that one of the reasons is the cost impact fees add to the cost of the home.
ANDERSON: I don't think the impact fees, where they are now, are in accordance with where (former Mayor) Monica Gates wanted them. I have a home that has a flat roof and a pitched roof. I wanted to change the flat roof to a pitched roof, and you know what? One of the contractors came and said, "You have an impact fee there because it's new construction." I'm a homeowner! I'm just changing the roof. I think they've gone a little crazy on how they choose to apply the impact fees. If you try to overcharge the development, you're stifling the business coming in, and I think we need to take a look at where are we on those impact fees, and maybe we're charging too much. But I'll also say that, without a property tax, the city still needs to somehow get income to run and provide what the basic services are. But the impact fees need to be looked at, we need to go back to what it was originally intended for. If you keep adding to what a developer has to pay to come in and build in an area, it's not going to make it worth their while.
Kathleen Murray to Erin Cochran: Kingman income is currently based on service jobs. Wages have been stagnant for a long time, and we see more and more of our young people leaving the area for better jobs. What is your vision for the youth of Kingman and what Kingman can do to keep their young people active in the community?
COCHRAN: One of my biggest things I want to do, probably 70 percent of the reason I started doing this is, I want to see us have a youth council. I believe we should make the youth more of a part of the community, give them a voice, give them an input, find out from them what they need to stay, what jobs are they looking for, what type of education are they looking for, what types of events do they want to see here? A lot of people I've talked to have said we don't have any kind of culture here. We need more things like Renaissance festivals and Shakespeare festivals. That's not only going to bring more of our community together, it's going to bring people from Flagstaff, Bullhead and Havasu to Kingman. They're going to go to lunch, shop at a shop they like, or, "Hey, maybe we'll go up to the Hualapais." And now we're getting more people in here to see that this is a wonderful place. A youth council isn't just going to give our youth a voice, but maybe it'll help the adults in our community understand the youth better. For a lot of people, there aren't a lot of high paying jobs and it does take either two people working or two jobs to survive right now, but that's not just Kingman - that's a lot of places, a lot of cities, big towns, small towns, it doesn't matter. The economy's not doing well, and a lot of places can't afford to pay any more than they're paying. It's going to be a matter of getting in more industry. With industry comes better paying jobs. I know that a lot of jobs out at the airport pay a lot better than many of the jobs here in town.
Kathleen Murray to Janet Watson: Has Council thought about revisiting impact fees?
WATSON: I have no problem with us revisiting impact fees as well as the permit fees. There are a lot of other fees that are associated with the impact fees, not just the impact fees themselves. I will say two upcoming projects will have the majority of their funding come from the impact fee fund. We're going to put an intersection light on Hualapai Mountain Road and another at an intersection on Airway. And because of the development that's on past that, the new development that has come in, the impact fees aren't collected for what's right in front of their property, but how they affect the traffic all over town. Otherwise, we wouldn't have the money to do that. I also think that, regarding the downturn, when building was going and growing, do you think we still have too much inventory to create a lot of new businesses and new homes? I think we just overbuilt. It was wonderful while it was going up, but anyone had to know it wouldn't just keep going up.
Murray: I understand your point, but there is still a lack of jobs for Kingman's younger citizens, and the existing ones offer only low wages. Are the impact fees a deterrent for bringing new, higher paying businesses here?
WATSON: That may be true, but in 2009, we had the biggest commercial year we've ever had for new construction. If you look at all the things that have been built, it may not all be new retail businesses, but we have had several new retail as well as the hospital, the new schools, and the building of the new county detention center. So there have been a lot of new construction-related jobs for those things. And it wasn't the city that went out and asked the hospital to come here. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like, as an elected official, my responsibility is to oversee our budget, oversee what our city manager is doing and the functions of our departments. I know there is a lack of opportunity for young people, but maybe someone needs to tell me how that's the city's responsibility.
Kathleen Murray to Allen Mossberg: Where do you see Kingman in five years? What is your vision of what Kingman should look like?
MOSSBERG: Let's start today. Hopefully, the economy is on a swing back up. I believe it is, but I don't believe we're going to go from crawling to running in a year or two. If the economy does pick up at some point, I think it's vital we get Kingman Crossing in first to bring in the retail that we need, whichever stores it might be, we need those sales tax dollars. In five or six years, we might get Rattlesnake Wash.
Murray: But retail jobs don't feed families, they're minimum wage. What about businesses to support our young people? We're considered by the outside to be anti-business, anti-industry. How do you change that culture?
MOSSBERG: That's up to all of us to work on. Council should work to guide the new Economic Development and Marketing Commission in our philosophy of what we want Kingman to be, and how they should act when new businesses want to come in. I see Kingman as more of a retirement community than anything. Higher paying jobs are going to depend on those individuals who go on to higher education. I see the medical side of it being where the top dollars are going to be.
Reporter James Chilton: So if Kingman remains a retirement community and we get lot of medical in here, what do those workers' kids do when they grow up?
MOSSBERG: That's a good question. That is a very good question. The world's going to higher education, you almost need a college certificate to get anywhere anymore.
Murray: But where do they work?
MOSSBERG: We have to invite more industry, we've got to get a whole mix in town.
Borgard: My son's 22 years old, he works for IBM, he's not here and he isn't coming back. My daughter's 16 and she'll be gone soon too, and she won't be coming back. For a lot of us, we want our kids to stay here and be able to find good paying jobs here and help build Kingman. Does Council really think this is just going to be a retirement community, and if not, how do we get an alternate vision out there? What do you see Kingman as?
MOSSBERG: No crystal ball, but I think 50 percent of the community will be retired. The rest of it, to keep your kids here, we've got to get some of the high-tech computer stuff - the electrical ends of it.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Murray changed questions to two of the candidates because they had already addressed impact fees earlier in the discussions.