In the lead-up to the 2020 election year, Eastern Arizona Courier will be featuring elected officials from throughout Graham County, asking about their communities and their approach to local issues. We spoke with Pima Mayor C.B. Fletcher, a former Pima Police chief from 1994 to 2001. Fletcher was born in Safford and graduated from high school in Pima. Fletcher was appointed to the Pima Council in February of 2016, replacing Councilor Don Carter. In January of 2017, Fletcher was nominated to be Pima’s mayor. In 2017, Fletcher also competed in the Graham County Dancing with the Stars, earning nearly $500 in charity donations for Pima Schools. Fletcher is currently on his second term as mayor.
Courier: What is the most important quality in the leader of a community?
Fletcher: The ability to communicate openly, accurately, honestly and factually. This must be done with the public and staff. The office of mayor of the Town of Pima is the chief representative of the governing body. As mayor, I must gain the trust of the Town Council, manager, employees and, most importantly, the citizens of the Town of Pima that I have and will always to the best of my ability keep Pima the family- oriented and forward-developing community they want to live in and work in.
Courier: What are your feelings on cooperation between local communities?
Fletcher: Over the past year and a half, the cooperation and work ethic between Graham County, the towns of Pima, Thatcher and Safford has reached a level of working together that is truly benefiting the whole Valley. As elected officials, we meet together monthly. The managers also meet monthly, and quarterly we meet all together. The managers usually contact one another more than once or twice a week to jointly work together on mutual interests. The Police and Fire departments are constantly working together. The Pima Fire Department Medical Unit has five paramedics and more than a dozen EMTs that responded to 35 medical calls last month. It’s a comfortable feeling that all the local governments in Graham County have developed such a strong spirit of togetherness.
Courier: What is the reason you decided to participate in local government?
Fletcher: I was born in Safford, went to the first grade in school in Fort Thomas and graduated from high school in Pima. I have, at one time or another, lived in every community in the Valley, so I have an affection for the entire Valley. My employment was primarily in law enforcement and retired as the chief of police here in Pima. Pima is my home, and I love all the people of Pima and am honored to live here.
I believe in serving in whatever way you can. I was appointed to the Town Council a few years ago and served under Mayor Tom Claridge. When he moved from Pima, I was honored to be nominated by Councilman Jesus Cabrera and elected as mayor and am now serving my second term. I strongly feel that if you have time, serve others in whatever way best suits you.
I also know that your local community government is the best form of governing available to a citizen. You have direct contact with us. I encourage and welcome all citizens to attend their local government meetings and make your voice heard.
Courier: What changes do you see coming to the community during your period as mayor?
Fletcher: Pima is a bedroom-type of community. We have a small number of businesses that generate sales tax, which is the principal funding for town operations.
The Town Council accepted the challenge from Town Manager Sean Lewis for the Town of Pima to invest in the Town of Pima. Our first project was to clean up the town so as to help townspeople increase their pride where they live. We have removed many more than a dozen uninhabitable mobile homes, seven uninhabitable houses and are in the process of cleaning the lots.
In cooperation with the Graham County Electric Co-op and Utilities, and with the leadership of Manager Curt Gray, the Town of Pima was awarded an interest-free loan that allowed us to build a 12,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and sales office for the local OHS business in Pima. This will not only affect our sales tax revenue but will add more than 20 jobs. We are in direct communication with two more businesses that are locating to Pima.
Solar panels will be installed at the Pima swimming pool that will decrease our electric bill as much as half and will provide covered parking. This project is in cooperation with Graham County Electric Co-Op and Sun Pumps in Safford and, through a grant process, will cost the Town of Pima nothing.
On a quarterly basis, we have social events sponsored by the town, such as Christmas Tree Lighting, Easter Egg Hunt, Family Rodeo, Fourth of July celebration and others. We, as a Town Council, are dedicated to making our citizens feel as a family and to know and care about one another.
Courier: In what ways are you willing to improve the quality of life for the aging seniors in our communities?
Fletcher: We have our share of older citizens in Pima, (I happen to be one but don’t realize it) and they are a very real concern for us. Because we are a rural area and have limited resources, Graham County and the three community governments work together to provide transportation, senior citizen center, programs and education for these valuable citizens.