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Mayor-Elect Nicholls Shares Priorities as He Prepares To Take Office

What are you doing?” is a question Yuma Mayor-elect Douglas Nicholls heard a lot when he was thinking of running for office.

He shared some answers recently as he readies to take office in two weeks on Jan. 1.

First off, he emphasized that the mayor is only one vote during a presentation to the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce “Good Morning Yuma!”

“I’m still only one vote on a full council of six other people,” he said. “We’re all your council.”

Second, he said, “my philosophy is that government is to serve the people. We need your involvement to be an effective council.”

Nicholls related that his son, a high school freshman, had started wrestling and was concerned about the other boys being bigger. The fatherly advice to the son was to not defeat himself.

“The same applies to us,” Nicholls said. “We’re our own worst enemies when we focus on the negative.”

As he and the new and returning council members prepare for a new year, he stressed that the goal is to address issues in a positive and cohesive manner. That will be fostered through a council retreat, meeting with legislators and at community events.

Building relationships extends to Yuma’s neighboring cities as well, Nicholls said, adding that he has already reached out to the mayors of Somerton and San Luis, Ariz., to find solutions together to issues facing the region.

“No one operates in a box,” he said.

A big word in the election campaign was “jobs,” noted Nicholls. “The city doesn’t create jobs. What we’re really talking about is economic development.”

He brings to the city office six years of experience on the board of Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation. “Over 400 jobs were created last year,” he said. “I want to build on those successes.”

Another issue of great concern is the Legislature’s sweeping in recent years of HURF (Highway User Revenue Fund) money, revenue from a statewide tax on fuel sales meant to help cities and counties pay for roadway maintenance and improvements.

“There’s discussion now about returning those funds,” Nicholls said. “We want to make sure that comes to fruition. It’s not luxury money. We need it to maintain our infrastructure.”

He also expressed concern about the proposed Interstate 11, designated by the U.S. Congress in the 2012 Surface Transportation Act, to connect Phoenix with Las Vegas as well as points north to Canada and south to Mexico.

“What it means to me,” Nicholls said, “is this is the result of all those who were at the public meetings and no one from the Yuma public was there. We need to be at the table … be part of the discussion.”

And so he encourages everyone to go to I11study.com and leave a comment with the message: “Don’t leave out Yuma. We don’t want to be left out of future developments of the state.”

The proposed Primary Freight Network is another example of Yuma County roadways not being included in a state development effort, Nicholls said. He noted that Interstate 8 and the new commercial port of entry and its connecting state route are no where in the proposed network.

Becoming more business-friendly is another priority for Nicholls. “We will be reviewing city ordinances and regulations to see what can be improved on. We will be reviewing processes and time frames. This is something we’re sensitive to and we will be addressing.”

In addition, he wants to put together a coalition of civic groups, churches, agencies and the city to address the issue of crime. Much of it, he said, he’s learned is connected to drug abuse.

“This is more and more a mainstream problem” he said. “It’s less a law enforcement issue and more social. I believe it is such a problem, if we don’t start addressing it, we have already lost.”