Pro-growth Gates: Kingman ready for next step
Note: This is the second of four profiles of candidates for Kingman mayor. The Miner will offer profiles of Joe Longoria on Wednesday and Harley Pettit on Thursday. Mayor Richard Anderson was profiled Monday.
KINGMAN - Former Mayor Monica Gates hopes to be future Mayor Monica Gates. Revived and re-energized a decade removed from City Hall, Gates is what she said she always has been: a pro-growth leader capable of building consensus.
A Kingman resident for more than three decades, Gates was first elected to City Council in 2000. She ran a successful campaign for mayor four years later. She was defeated in 2008 and again in 2010.
Undaunted, Gates believes Kingman is a different city today than it was a decade ago, one that shares her vision.
"It's time for growth," she said last week. "It's time to move forward. We've been stagnant for 10 years, but look around. There's new people and a new energy."
With that in mind, Gates is a supporter of the proposed Kingman Crossing project today just as she was 10 years ago. In fact, she brought the idea to the Council in 2005.
Voters back then shot it down, and they'll have another shot at Kingman Crossing in November. But Gates could be onto something when she suggests there's new people bringing new energy.
While the ambitious plan to build a fourth interstate traffic interchange and retail mecca in eastern Kingman failed a decade ago, it has been fairly well received from the public.
"Kingman Crossing presents an opportunity to create a vital private-public partnership," said Gates. "This will bring us retail, restaurants, and a much needed interchange. Kingman Crossing is more relevant now than then. We can't sit back and wait for ADOT to fund our infrastructure."
Gates said there weren't enough voters in 2005 who believed Kingman was ready for change. "This time, we've got more people involved and they have a say in the future of this community."
Gates said she is pleased more people are engaged with the process than might have been in the past.
"I want people to know, local government has more impact on your quality of life than any other form of government," she said. "It's time we build a consensus on what we want Kingman to be."
Gates is far from the only candidate for mayor or Council with a strong opinion of the Kingman Airport Authority and its management of the airport and industrial park.
"The industrial park is the lifeblood of this community," she said. "And it can be so much more than it is. I want to see an 'open for business' sign, I want to see it cleaned up, and I want there to be clear expectations of what it could and should be."
Gates envisions a "bustling place with thousands of employees and a daycare center and job training center. We have to aggressively pursue this."
Gates said the ideal solution would be for the city and the airport authority to mend fence.
The authority and its board of directors have endured withering criticism for more than a year, from certain members of the Council to airport users and others. The city owns the property and contracted with the authority to run it - Gates was on the Council when it unanimously approved the contract, which doesn't require the authority to reach any performance benchmarks. The duration of the contract also has been condemned. It doesn't expire for decades.
Gates said she would agree to litigate the contract, but only as a last resort.
"I don't want confrontation. You don't get anything done with confrontation, but there is so much room for improvement." The industrial park currently employees 2,000 area residents.
"When new businesses come to town to look at Kingman, the mayor should greet them, and so should the Chamber of Commerce and the hospital CEO," said Gates. "As mayor, I would work with Council so that we have a vision for the future. We'll be big picture thinking."
Gates believes the current Council spends too much time micro-managing the city manager rather than doing what it's supposed to do: Set policy and give the manager the room to carry it out.
One policy she would immediately put in force concerns the water issue.
"I seriously want to see water on every agenda," she said. "Water is a game changer. It has to take precedence over all other issues. The state isn't going to do anything (about large-scale farming in the area depleting the Hualapai Valley basin). We have to do something."
Gates also would support downtown's continued revitalization and taking advantage of Route 66 and the tourism opportunities the iconic highway represents.
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