BULLHEAD CITY — Mayoral candidate Jerry Duvall wants to use all his experience in public service to help the city build its future.
“I enjoy working with the community and I enjoyed moving forward on the positions I had as an elected official, and that’s what I want to do now,” Duvall said. “I want to do everything I can to move this community forward.”
A veteran and an original member of the Bullhead City Police Department in 1985, Duvall retired after 22 years of service and was then elected to the elementary school district board, where he served six years. In 2009, he was elected to City Council where he served two terms. Before moving to Bullhead City, Duvall spent 15 years as a police officer in his hometown of Two Rivers, Wis.
“I know how to work to serve the public,” Duvall said. “I’ve been in public office now for a number of years and I’m well aware of how this community runs, so I want to continue to use that experience to help the community.”
Duvall said his years of experience have taught him how to negotiate to get things done.
“Having been a council member, I know I’m not going to please everyone all the time,” he said. “It’s just part of the job. I knew it on the school board and even as a police officer — learning to solve disagreements between people, you have to really use that negotiation skill to get things done. We have to work together to make things happen; I’m willing to give and I’m willing to take, and I’m willing to listen to all sides.”
One of the experiences Duvall said he is most proud of is helping the community get through the recession.
“While I was on the council, from 2009 to about 2012, the economy went down — housing was down, everything was down — we had some very tough decisions to make because we had to cut the work force. It was very tough for council and for everyone. We worked together as a team. We looked at that budget and we adjusted it, and we did what we had to do. It hurt a lot, but we had to do it. I feel like I contributed to the community keeping an A-plus bond rating through that recession.
“I’m a very fiscally conservative guy and I want to make sure to continue to do that if I become mayor.”
Duvall also points to taking the lead in 2014 in tackling the issue of homelessness in the city.
“I wanted to address the homelessness issue,” he said. “Until then nobody had addressed any of it. I started a homeless task force and at first I was a little leery, because for many people it is a ‘not in my backyard’ issue, but it started going forward. I got a whole bunch of volunteers and we opened up the day use center in Monarch Mission Square and got that funded. The city helped pay the rent for that and now Catholic Social Services has taken it over and is working with Praise Chapel and it sounds like they’re moving toward creating a homeless shelter. I planted that seed four years ago and I see it growing.”
Duvall is also proud of his work with local youth.
“I was in law enforcement for 35 years,” he said. “Most of that time I can say I worked with youth and youth programs such as Crime Stoppers, drug and alcohol programs, counseling in the schools. Supporting law enforcement and public safety is very important to me, as is working with young people.”
One of the city’s major challenges includes the issue of EPCOR Water Arizona’s consolidation and rate case and the potential decision for city to condemn/acquire the utility’s Bullhead City assets, Duvall said.
“I support everything the city is doing on this right now,” Duvall said. “Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter is doing a great job, getting us a seat at the table and I agree with the direction the mayor and city council are taking on this with considering condemnation. Of course, that is a long process and expensive process and I would want the citizens to vote on it if it looks like that is the way we should go. But right now, I support the city’s direction on it.”
Another of Duvall’s major concerns for the community is the need to attract business and industry.
“I know it’s a hard thing to do, but if I am fortunate enough to be elected, I am going to make every effort to get information about Bullhead City out to conventions, trade shows — everything and anything I can do to work with the city manager and staff and sell our community to get people to come here,” Duvall said. “Bullhead City should be more popular and popularized, and have more people in the city than Havasu City or other river cities — we have the river, the parks, the sports complexes, the retail — there is no reason we can’t grow.”
Part of that growth is support of the city’s recent sale of the River Regatta to Marnell Gaming, Duvall said.
“I’m glad council passed it,” he said. “I voted against it in 2016; when I saw the proposal Marnell Gaming gave the city, the issues I had with it back in 2016 were all covered. To me, it’s a great event for the community.”
Duvall said he is a believer in tax incentives to attract business and development.
“I’m not about to give the city away, but I am not against giving tax incentives to get things built,” he said. “I feel business, especially small business, is the lifeblood of this community. New business is a way to seed the tax base and with a better tax base we can start to address some of the infrastructure needs.”
Addressing infrastructure needs will be vital in the coming years, Duvall said.
“I want to help the city continue to develop new ways to address infrastructure,” he said. “Things like the slurry machine purchase. We bought that, which cut our costs so we can do more streets at a lower cost.”
Council approved the purchase of a $431,125 RoadSaver in 2016, which allows the Public Works Department to perform slurry sealing and microsurfacing on city streets, bypassing the hiring of contractors.
Duvall said he would also focus on keeping air service and encouraging development.
“I’ve seen (air service) providers come and go over the past 35 years I’ve lived here,” he said. “We need to get more of the people to use this. I think it is a vital service.”
While Duvall said he believes he has the experience to be a good mayor, he also believes the most important quality he has is his passion for the community.
“I have the fire in my eye. I want to do it,” he said. “If I am fortunate enough to be elected mayor, I will devote all my time to it.”