Pete Furman’s Answers to Red Rock News Questions for Sedona City Council Candidates.
Published June 10, 2022 in the Sedona Red Rock News
- How long have you been living in Sedona? I first visited Sedona in 1986, and moved here full-time in March of 2018 with my wife, Lisa Voss.
- What do you or did you do for a living? I began working as a mechanical engineer in Phoenix in 1986. Later, I founded a high-tech manufacturing company. In 2007, I began a second career in local government, serving eight years as Chief of Staff to the Mayor of San Jose, California. I am currently retired.
- Where in Sedona do you spend the most time? I spend most of my time in Sedona biking on our roads and trails, or in meetings at City Hall.
- How else have you been involved in the Sedona community [other than running for office]? I’m a Sedona Planning and Zoning Commissioner and a member of the Sedona Police Pension Board (the PSPRS). I served on City Workgroups that considered the merits of Home Rule and reviewed the City Budget. Last year, I received the City of Sedona Commitment Award for “dedication and unparalleled expertise and for advancing the betterment of Sedona.” I also help repair local trails with the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition.
- What do you believe are the most important values to Sedona residents? I believe residents value community involvement, volunteering, caring for our beautiful environment, and enjoying the wealth of artistic and cultural resources we have in Sedona.
- Why are you running for City Council? I’m running to improve the quality of life for Sedona residents, protect our environment, and maintain local control of our budget process and laws. My governing principles include honesty, fiscal responsibility, and open government. I care about our future, and have the experience, knowledge, and energy to help guide its direction.
- What are Sedona’s top 3 issues right now? The top three issues for Sedona are traffic congestion, proliferation of short-term rentals, and a lack of workforce housing.
- What do you feel is the City Council’s biggest responsibility to the residents? The biggest responsibilities of Council are to establish both long- and short-term objectives and priorities for our city, to hold regular meetings, and to hear requests and concerns from the community.
- How do you plan to work with six other council members when coming to a consensus? I plan to build trust with fellow council members by having a thoughtful and collaborative presence during council meetings and in public. I will learn about issues, prepare for meetings, treat everyone respectfully, and listen to colleagues and the public.
Pete Furman’s Essay for Red Rock News (750 word maximum). Submitted on 5/20/22 to Kyle Larson at email@example.com
I’m Pete Furman, candidate for Sedona City Council. I’m running to improve the quality of life for Sedona residents, help protect our environment, and maintain local control.
Talking with residents and business owners, I hear fears and concerns about a declining quality of life. People cite negative forces like traffic congestion, high housing costs, and strangers filling our neighborhoods. They believe that short term rentals (STRs) have decimated the availability of rental housing, causing workers to leave. Crowded restaurants, slow service, and rising prices are common. Trailhead parking is difficult, and trails are overcrowded and trashed. Irresponsible ATV operators damage the environment and cause noise and congestion problems. Everyone suffers as our doctors and teachers move away. Residents blame overtourism, and it’s hard to argue otherwise.
While we can do more, I believe city and community leaders are working to improve our quality of life. But public policy issues are difficult because our many needs and desires pull in different directions. And the process is darn slow. Improving quality of life takes time, money, and effort.
In Sedona, tourism funds most of the city budget. Our challenge is to use tourism tax revenues to solve needs of residents and the local businesses we depend on. Managing tourism and mitigating its negative impacts on resident quality of life has become essential. City, Chamber, and Forest Service leaders all play vital roles. It’s important for residents to participate in Sedona’s budget process because that’s where city officials decide how to improve our lives and spend available revenues.
If elected, I will be laser focused on improving quality of life. I’ll seek to increase residents’ understanding of the budget. I’ll track our traffic, STR, and housing efforts, and will ask for outcome-based measures to gauge progress. I support the Sedona In Motion (SIM) projects. I believe unregulated, commercially operated STRs are mini hotels using state-protected loopholes, and don’t belong in our neighborhoods. I believe workers, families, and retirees all enrich our community. I want more teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, city employees, artists, and hospitality and service workers living in Sedona. We can’t solve everyone’s needs for housing within city limits, but we’ll do what we can and work regionally to encourage more supply.
My attention will also be on protecting our environment. Sedona’s Climate Action Plan is a significant body of work. I support it. Government has a legitimate role in advocating for and modeling good choices. Water and fire issues are particularly crucial. Flood protection, water supply and quality, conservation, and reuse will get my attention. As will fire prevention, risk reduction and preparedness, and evacuation planning.
Another key focus is local control, which means Home Rule. I’ve studied Home Rule and its impact on our city budget. I presented to Council about it. I support Home Rule. Maintaining local control also means working with state legislators who understand that local leaders know what’s best for their communities and need flexibility implementing state laws.
Through experience, I’ve learned to work with the public, elected officials, and city staff. I understand how local governments set policy and I enjoy the public process. I’m energized, and ready to work for Sedona’s residents.