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Fri, Sept. 18

Hiemenz, Miller vie for council seat
Election May 20 will determine final spot

Bernie Hiemenz - William “Bill” Miller

Bernie Hiemenz - William “Bill” Miller

A runoff election for a seat on Williams' City Council will be held May 20 during the general election. Incumbent Vice Mayor, council member Bernie Hiemenz will face off against Williams resident William "Bill" Miller in the upcoming election for the last remaining seat on Williams City Council. Three seats were originally up for grabs, though candidates Frank McNelly and Jim Wurgler both took enough votes during the March primary election to win their respective positions. Hiemenz and Miller meanwhile, were faced with the runoff in order to determine who would win the third and final seat. Five candidates originally vied for the three seats in the primary election.

Hiemenz, a 23-year resident of Williams has served on city council for 12 years. He currently works as a conductor for the Grand Canyon Railway. Hiemenz has cited the need for water and growth as big issues that are currently facing the community of Williams. He said his campaign has been progressing well.

"I think we're doing alright. I think I've got a lot of support," Hiemenz said.

Since the primary election in March, Hiemenz has kept himself active in a number of local projects, including the Yes I Can event scheduled to take place Saturday at Lost Canyon.

"Bud Parenteau and Judge Sutton gave a presentation on the Yes I Can out at Lost Canyon," Hiemenz said. "I thought about it and I thought it was a great idea. I did call the school and found out how many kids went between ninth and twelfth. There are 234. I took it to council and asked (City Finance Director) Joe Duffy if we could come up with the money and he said in our council contingency fund, we've got a little fund, there was enough money in there. So we offered to pay the way of every kid in that age bracket."

Hiemenz has also been keeping himself busy with plans for the 3-D theater in Williams, which he said is a business he would like to see come to town.

"Burlington Northern decided not to lease them the property for the building," he said. "There's no problem with the parking and the street coming down on the west end. We're alright there. (Council member) Don Dent and I sat down and tried to figure out how to make this work. I think we've got some different options that we'll be talking about in the next few weeks, some pretty good options I think."

Some of those options may include moving the Babbitt Polson Building, skate park and recreation center, Hiemenz said.

"The 3-D people could buy a piece of property at the west side of the pool, build us a new building, more of a community center with a weight room and everything in it. It would be a skate park and a teen center. It would be right by the pool," Hiemenz said. "It would be on their nickel. We could move the one building, take the other two down and it would fit in there. Those are some of the options we're going to talk about."

While sales tax is a little down in Williams, Hiemenz said there are indications that it will be a good summer for businesses in town.

"We were down about $48,000, which is a little discouraging," he said. "But we're still up for the year, so we're not in too bad of shape really. We've been on the upside for so long. This winter we took a little dip in our sales tax, but we're just going into the budget right now. Now is the time that we've really got to support the businesses that we have here. Let's make sure they're successful. That's what we've got to work on. We've got a good, strong chamber and I think we've got to support them big time right now. Now is when they need it."

Miller, a resident of Williams for the last five years, owns and operates Williams Realty along Route 66 with his wife Sierra. A former law enforcement official for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Miller holds a bachelor's degree in criminology and an associate's degree in police science. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Miller said his campaign has been coming along, though it can be difficult to measure the amount of support he will receive when it comes to Election Day.

"It's hard to judge how the campaign is going in this town," he said. "There is a lot of encouragement from people that know me, they encourage me and wish me well and tell me they're supporting me in my candidacy, but it's always hard to tell."

Since the primary election, Miller has participated in the recent town hall meeting held in Williams to examine the issue of underage drinking in the community.

"One of the things is that I was really glad to see the support that came out for the Williams Alliance town hall meeting on underage drinking," Miller said. "That was a great turnout. Even though we didn't have a lot of kids, what was important is we had people from the whole spectrum of the community, from the city council and mayor, down to parents and service clubs. We really had a good representation of people who care about Williams. That's what I like to see."

On the down side, Miller said it was unfortunate that the city has to raise water and wastewater fees for Williams residents.

"I know it's going to put a hardship on people. That just emphasizes how we have to get more homes built in here to help share that cost," Miller said. "We need to get more development and we need to re-examine impact fees to encourage homebuilding."

Miller also said he was interested in looking into possible transit system ideas for residents who travel regularly to Flagstaff.

"I was reading articles about Flagstaff and the mountain bus system," Miller said. "One of the things I'd like to see, if we can somehow encourage them, if there's a way we could develop some kind of mass transportation system between Williams and Flagstaff. We're not talking about street cars or trains, we're talking about if we could get the transit system up there to make a run down to Williams once or twice a day. Even if it's only two or three days a week, I think with this fuel crisis we're dealing with it would be meaningful to people."

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