Executive Committee Spotlight: Mayor Harry Oberg, Prescott

Name, title & city/town: Mayor Harry Oberg, City of Prescott
Year elected to office: Elected August 2015
Years served on Executive Committee: New member of the Executive Committee as of February 2017
Hometown: Prescott, AZ

Why did you decide to serve in local government?
My desire to serve in local government stemmed from several experiences. During my 33 years of military service, I served both on Active Duty and in the Army National Guard overseas and in many states. My National Guard assignments involved working with local municipalities, county and state officials, as well as state Congressional representatives.

Whether it was armory improvements (land, buildings or training areas), state emergencies (floods, riots, etc.), equipment purchases for new equipment and/or training support, I was always intrigued by the politics, policies, and procedures in dealing with these government entities.

After my military service, I worked for Federal Civil Service and was responsible for a $1.5B budget within the Department of Army, and became intimately familiar with the Federal budget process.

I was raised in Prescott, and after retiring back to my home town, I had a desire to support my local community. With my government service, I felt I could contribute expertise in addressing the particular issues affecting Prescott from both a historical and more current perspective.

What are the biggest challenges facing your town today?
The problems facing the City of Prescott are similar to the issues facing many communities in Arizona and across the country. These include the concern over a growing public pension liability; dealing with substance abuse recovery homes and related drug addiction and homelessness; improving economic development and job creation; and as always in the West, ensuring we have sufficient water for sustainable growth.

We continue to improve Prescott's airport (the State's 3rd busiest airport), and are seeking to make it a regional airport with an airport authority and improved commercial air service that serves an area of approximately 130,000 residents.

We are working to establish a technological business incubator on the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) campus. This incubator will align with the curricula of ERAU and our other local colleges, specifically: cyber security, security and intelligence, robotics, drone technology, aerospace, and environmental sciences, to name a few. In addition, we continue to engage all stakeholders within the groundwater active management area to ensure sufficient water for growth without affecting the headwaters of the Verde River.

What opportunities do you see for your community?
Prescott is blessed with a temperate climate and four seasons, clean air, a great western history and many outdoor recreational opportunities. Tourism provides a major economic impact from mid-April until late September. Prescott's population expands by thousands over the weekends as people visit to enjoy the special events like the world's oldest rodeo and the summer concerts performed on the courthouse plaza. The also enjoy hiking over 250 miles of trails, fishing and boating on our four lakes.

Prescott is also known as Arizona's Christmas City, with thousands of holiday visitors enjoying the courthouse plaza lighting and the holiday Acker Music Showcase throughout December and into January.

Our community envisions additional growth in north Prescott with great opportunities for aerospace and software businesses related to our institutions of higher learning. ERAU is considered one of the top 25% universities in the nation, with 95% of students receiving job placement in their field of study immediately upon graduation.

What are you most proud of during your time in office?
Since my election in 2015, I have made progress on issues of deep public concern, in particular-structured sober living homes, and PSPRS. I worked with Representative Noel Campbell and his ad hoc committee to develop legislation for more oversight on recovery homes. The city worked with stakeholders to develop and pass an ordinance that would improve the health, safety and welfare of residents in structured living homes, and by extension the neighborhoods in which they reside. Towns and cities in Arizona and out of state have requested Prescott's ordinance so they can replicate the process in their communities.

Also in 2016, I testified before Senator Lesko's committee developing reforms to the current PSPRS system. SB 1428 and Proposition 124 were the result of the committee's efforts, and Prescott's citizens approved the Proposition by a wide margin. I am planning to work with the House legislative PSPRS ad hoc committee slated to begin this summer to accomplish further reform.

Why is the League important to cities and towns in Arizona?
The League connects 91 incorporated cities and towns in Arizona regardless of size or geographic location. I see the League's primary function as providing effective collaboration between the municipalities and the State Legislature and special interest groups. During legislative sessions, the League reviews all proposed legislation and appraises the cities and towns of bills introduced during the session that may be of concern to the municipality. In addition, I appreciate the League's efforts to provide timely information on budget, election and Federal regulation requirements, legal advice, a source for historical information, and conducting training opportunities on municipal functions for elected officials and city staff.

League of Arizona Cities and Towns
1820 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85007
Phone: 602-258-5786
Fax: 602-253-3874

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