Week 10: Reelection, Reflections, and More

Toby C -

Welcome to the final, and perhaps busiest week of my project! This week, I had the opportunity to speak to 5 local government officials in Prescott Valley:

  • Vice Mayor Lori Hunt
  • IT Director Casey D.
  • Neighborhood Services Director Stephanie R.
  • Development Services Director John J.
  • Finance Director Celina M.

I interviewed Vice Mayor Hunt about her experience in local government and her ongoing reelection campaign. We talked about the importance of community engagement to stay in touch with your electorate, which gets harder to do as you move into state and federal government. Beyond her elected duties, the Vice Mayor’s community services, whether in MATFORCE or in her church, allows her a chance to give back in a different way. Our conversation went into a ton of detail, from how the specific issues PV is facing right now are accounted for in the agenda, to which vendors she uses to print banners, cards, and signs for her campaign.

Vice Mayor Hunt

With the department heads, it was a valuable experience to have been able to speak to those who have worked both in the private and public sector, both those who are new and seasoned in public service, both elected and appointed, and just such a vast array of service backgrounds. The more I talked to them, the more I realized how not just interconnected these departments are, but how dependent they are. Development Services, which processes thousands of applications for new projects a week, relies on the GIS system that the IT department builds and maintains. Neighborhood services, which is at its core the conduit between the public and the local government, needs to collaborate with the right department to address citizen concerns.

Instead of trying to pack everything we talked about into one blog, as my final product, I plan to condense all of what I learned into a distributable one-sheeter. Throughout my entire project, what I’ve heard repeatedly from officials on the local and state level is a degree of misconception. Whether it’s with how much oversight the city council has over growth, the realities of budgeting for the state, or the inefficiencies of government, officials from across the political spectrum have conveyed that there exists plenty of misinformation about their work in the public, which creates even more tension in civic life. The goal of this document is to aid in defusing that by educating on some of the preconceptions that exist about not only running for office, but also the workings of local government.

Now, my project is coming to a close.  I’ve experienced plenty of setbacks, and the project has changed constantly over the course of the ten weeks I’ve worked on it, and I’d say the focus has shifted: from elections more to the inner workings of government. Despite it having changed forms, the vast amount of knowledge that I gained about government has reaffirmed my interest in politics and prepared me with a taste of the responsibility of public service. I’m extremely grateful to those who have given their time and energy to my project, from all the officials who took the time out of their busy schedules to meet with me to the executive assistants who coordinated the meetings, and to those who have followed me on this 10 week journey. I hope to see many of you at the May 9 Senior Project Presentations at 4:30 PM at BASIS Prescott (Chem 2), and until then, we’ll have to say goodbye.

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