KINGMAN - Before the senate candidates beat each other up at Wednesday's Mohave Republican Forum, a current mayor, former mayor and a vocal critic of the city council said their piece, but with less animosity.
Republican candidates for the non-partisan office are current Mayor Richard Anderson, former Mayor Monica Gates, and challenger Harley Pettit. Democrat Joe Longoria was not present and was not invited to speak.
They were asked about their positions on raising taxes, increasing revenue, attracting business, the Kingman Airport Authority and improving the literal vision of Kingman.
Taxes and revenue
None of the candidates liked the idea of instituting a property tax.
Pettit seemed skeptical of levies in addition to the current sales tax to generate revenue. He made references to his father's businesses in California that were taxed out of existence.
Gates definitely doesn't support a primary property tax.
"That went away 30 years ago; it's not coming back," she said. "What we need to do is increase our sales tax revenue."
She wants to consider annexation to bring more people into Kingman to increase shared revenue and diversify the revenue base.
Anderson said the city's population has increased while the buying power of the sales tax has gone down.
"We've been able to manage with what we have," he said. "What we need to do is plan for how do we diversify. What kind of business do we bring in?"
"Businesses bring us jobs. If people spend money here, then it increases our revenue."
He also wanted to look at more bonds for special purposes.
"If the population wants something, then we need to find a way to pay for it, we need to find and have a bond for that item that sunsets."
What kind of businesses?
Anderson said he would bring in anything he could get his hands on, mainly a major sporting goods store.
"There's a good possibility, but it's linked with a major expense," he said. "We need to bring skilled and semi-skilled jobs into the area that give the opportunity to evolve and advance," he said. "Then perhaps get (businesses) out to the airport where there'll be more technical and skilled jobs."
Pettit also wanted high-paying, skilled labor jobs.
"Let's just keep working on that," he said.
"We're ideally set up for manufacturing and distribution in Kingman," Gates said.
She said downtown is asking for more businesses and tourism.
"I think the city needs to take an active role in bringing tourists to Route 66," she said. "They want to come here, we just have to help them get here."
Kingman Airport Authority
Gates said the airport needs to be a gateway for jobs and travel and that other communities have found a way to make their airports viable and a place of quality employment.
Anderson wants to get Kingman and Kingman Airport Authority governing bodies together to figure out the best way to get things accomplished.
Taking out the trash
Anderson wants to start by cleaning up the overpasses and interchanges. He would continue to utilize the clean city commission and create a focus group to talk about cleaning up those areas.
"We need to have a clean appearance," he said. "That's how we draw people here."
"When you first drive into Kingman, that's a first impression," Gates said. "(Kingman) doesn't look vital, it doesn't look alive.
"It's not just about aesthetics, it's about saying Kingman doesn't look open for business."
She said code enforcement must be a priority and property owners need to be encouraged to clean up through code enforcement.
Pettit wants to hold absentee landlords and property owners accountable for cleaning up their properties. He said every citizen should take personal responsibility to pick up weeds and garbage.
"Whether it's a bag a day or bag a week, we should make an effort."
Why give your vote?
"I'm a citizen running for mayor, not a politician," Pettit said. He said he wants to focus on the needs of the people, not special interest groups.
Gates is excited about the prospect of working with newer, younger city council candidates.
"They're so full of energy and full of great ideas," she said. "I want to lead a council that finds reasons and ways to get things done, not excuses to not get things done."
Anderson says the development of Interstate 11 is a challenge but a necessity to helping the city grow. He said big cities can fund the corridor but small towns have to fight for resources.
"I will continue to fight and talk to whoever I need to, to get money to do the things we need to do in Kingman."