BISBEE — Current Bisbee mayor David Smith is facing off against former Bisbee council member Ken Budge. The Herald/Review sent both candidates questions, and their answers are below.

David M. SmithAge: 73

Occupation: CEO and Principal Consultant, Associated Fire Consultants, Inc.

Party Affiliation: Independent

Family: Wife, two children, 5 grandchildren and one great-grandchild

Tell us a little about yourself, 30 words or less:

I grew up in Tucson, and after active duty in the Marine Corps, I became a Tucson Police Department Arson – Homicide Detective and later established my own international business.

H/R: What makes you the best candidate for mayor?

I am a proven commodity over the last three and one half years. Many adversities have surfaced during that time that could have resulted in chaos and financial ruin to the city. The leadership that I bring as a Marine NCO, Police Detective and small business CEO allows me to objectively evaluate, formulate and execute a plan of resolution. This has been demonstrated during the fire destroying city hall and being operational in a day, the unfortunate termination of s city manager, the hiring of a city attorney and certainly during this pandemic. I have always made myself available to ALL citizens of Bisbee through email, text, cell phone or in person I provide answers to questions (although not always the one wanted) on a timely basis and I do not dodge the blame or responsibility. I came into office with a seven-point economic plan and each of the points has now been addressed, with each providing or promising to provide new money. Our Sewer Bill Amnesty program has realized over $600,000 alone. Using recognized business practices, the re-finance of the Wastewater Plant has released an additional $675,000 per year, allowing us to continue services that would have been terminated.

H/R: What is your preference for a city hall: rebuild the old site; find a new site; stay in current facilities and make repairs and improvements?

Many people have many different ideas; however, the bottom line is that an answer must be based on available funding. We have approximately $2 million to spend and the present site will not accommodate a one story building and parking. The argument that it is a historic building (it’s not) and needs to be saved, doesn’t remedy the question of where to put city hall. The temporary site has buildings that are old and deteriorating faster than they can be repaired. Our employees have all been but forgotten in the discussions and the fact is their comfort involving heating, cooling and potential health matters (mold, etc.) has taken a back seat. A new building on a new site can be constructed within the allotted money. The bottom line, however, is that it is actually dependent on our citizens to convey their wishes to their representatives. Those wishes must be based on practicalities and not nostalgia. I have personally discussed grant and gift funding with numerous state and federal agencies, as well as private donors with no success. When things calm down, I will be calling for a Town Hall meeting to rationally discuss this very issue.

H/R: COVID 19 is taking a severe toll on Bisbee many small businesses and reducing tourism dollars. What are your plans for dealing with the probable, coming economic dilemma?

As normal business would require, I will first evaluate where we are financially. Unfortunately, it will take several months after the peak hits before the real fallout (in the form of lost tax data) is available. That data is then compared to the expected (based on our budget) revenue and we then have a defined starting point. Working with the City Manager and department heads, we will devise several scenarios to include loss of services, staff furloughs and revenue enhancement. Renegotiating vendor contracts is presently being addressed, while awaiting the required tax data. We need to face the fact that some of our closed businesses will not have the resources to reopen and our economic drain will not be short lived. I am working with several groups of public relations and advertising (including our city contract partners) in anticipation of an advertising blitz. I am in weekly contact with our two Senators and our Congresswoman regarding potential government funding to assist in the partial replacement of our anticipated shortfall. We have the absolute advantage of good people, great weather, and a wonderful history to offer those that want “to get away” for a short vacation when this pandemic is over.

Ken Budge69 years old

Retired Captain Firefighter/Paramedic

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Married 42 years, 1 Daughter, 3 Grandchildren

Tell us a bit about yourself:

We purchased our Bisbee home on Chihuahua Hill 25 years ago after I retired from a 27 year career as a Captain Firefighter-Paramedic. I am married to Mary Alice, a retired elementary school teacher.

H/R: What makes you the best candidate for mayor?

If you believe change is a good thing, then I ask for your vote. I am committed to more transparency in city government. Now is time for new leadership with fresh ideas. We must start listening to all sides for the benefit of everyone. My promise is to stop the current dismissive rhetoric and backroom deals. The Mayor and Council are elected to serve you, and to hear your voice on matters that concern you. Please join me in cultivating a compassionate common sense government. I was appointed and then elected twice, serving over 7 years as a Ward 1 Council Member. I have served on the Design Review Board, the Police/Fire Advisory Committee and a member of the Board of Adjustment during the yellow trailer hearings. I was an executive committee member of the Upper San Pedro Partnership for seven years, and I now serve as Chairman of the Civil Service Board. These years of service have given me the knowledge and experience to be your Mayor. I understand the important issues we face and am committed to resolve them. My priority is pulling our community together through consensus building. As one community pulls together, anything is possible.

H/R: What is your preference for a city hall: rebuild the old site; find a new site; stay in current facilities and make repairs and improvements?

The reason for insurance coverage is to restore a loss. Why has replacing City Hall been forgotten? I loved our old City Hall as I attended meetings and worked there for many years. I would love to see it saved and be rebuilt within. I have heard from many who think it is possible, staying within the budget constraints of $2 million. We need to give them a chance to present their plans for consideration to the public and Mayor and Council. If they cannot meet budget constraints, then it is time to see about preserving and repurposing the building’s shell. There are several plans I have seen that could work, thus bringing commerce to Warren. Our artists could decorate the inside and it could be used during the day as a place to sell things and at night for events like movies or weddings. There is grant money available from the state SHPO for planning. My second choice to replace City Hall would be to repurpose an existing building within city limits, like the On Consignment building or others I have looked at. These could be easily done within a $2 million budget. It is the people’s home and needs to speak to our history.

H/R: COVID–19 is taking a severe toll on Bisbee many small businesses and reducing tourism dollars. What are your plans for dealing with the probable, coming economic dilemma?

Our Bisbee small business owners have been struggling mightily through the COVID–19 pandemic, especially those in service industries, such as food service and entertainment. These owners are much more likely to have laid off employees, decreased hours, and suffered revenue losses. Many of our large sales tax producers like Safeway, hardware and retail stores have remained open. Likewise, many of our larger employers in health care, government and construction have kept employees working. It is unknown how much of a decrease city revenue will be. The city will also receive $599,000 from the state in aid, which will help to cover some loss. With all this being said, I believe we need to plan for the long haul in this crisis. The potential fallout from the pandemic goes deeper the longer it plays out. Budgeting will be key by controlling spending and delaying nonessential projects until we have a better understanding of the effects on city revenue. Our discretionary spending budget is only as big as the income we have available to fund it. Despite the challenges, many owners expect their businesses to be back to normal within six months of the pandemic’s end. It speaks to the resiliency of our small business community. We as the city must be ready to help that happen however we can.

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