By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):
Needles, California: In the upcoming election in November 2020, voters locally will be making their decision on who will be representing the people as mayor and city council members for the City of Needles.
ZachNews sent out questions to the candidates on what the community would like the candidates to answer before they make their voting decision on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020.
The following is questions and answers from Needles City Council Candidate Jamie McCorkle:
(Responses and Answers by Candidate in “Quotation Marks”)
*** Candidate’s Background: ***
- Your full name?
“Jamie N. McCorkle”
- Where are you from?
“I was born in Upland, California; however, I grew up in Kingman, Arizona and Springfield, Missouri. I have been a resident of Needles for 19 years. I married into a family whose lineage in Needles dates back to pre-1898 when ancestor, Samuel Thompson, surveyed the town of Needles for the railroad. My family and I wouldn’t live anywhere else.“
- Your occupation?
“Marketing and Advertising; currently employed by News West Publishing Co.“
- Background about yourself:
- Why are you running for Needles City Council?
“I believe it’s time that the City of Needles be treated more like a business in its marketing outreach. We already have an amazing, caring, helpful, loyal and prideful community. That foundation is strong! I feel it’s time to direct our focus to where we are weak which is in the way we market our city. I want to push and help get the city up and running to its full potential. With my extensive hands-on experience in marketing, business and advertising, I can bring fresh ideas to the table and help execute those ideas. I can help bring Needles into a future of prosperity and growth.”
“I want to use my passion and drive as a business marketer to rebrand and rebuild the reputation of Needles outside our city limits. We need to boost tourism, add new businesses, support existing businesses and address resident retention. I am not afraid to ask: “Why?”… Why are things this way? “How and What”… How can we make this better? What do we need to do to get our city closer to our goals and vision? Needles needs a new vision and direction. I want to help create this and get it done.“
*** The Topics and Questions: ***
- What do you think of the California Governor’s “Stay-At-Home” order on our community?
“As we are now months into this pandemic, I feel as a country we have learned enough about COVID19 that the Governor’s “stay at home” orders can be safely lifted and should be. The level of personal precautionary steps taken at this point should be an individual choice. We cannot continue to destroy our economy and keep our children from receiving the in-person education that they deserve, and to continue to affect our citizens’ mental health in a negative way in response to a virus that statistics have shown does not have the mortality rate that we first feared owing in large part to our common sense approach and pulling together to bring together diagnostics and medical equipment where needed. The best defense against an enemy is to “know” the enemy. We’ve done that.“
- How would you reach out to the businesses and citizens of our community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
“The needs of businesses versus the needs of citizens that are affected are quite different. I would make sure that businesses in our community have correct and current information readily available to them for state and federal assistance. I would reach out and ask them what they feel their needs are as an individual business and advocate for them.”
“Our community has already done such a wonderful job of coming together to make sure so many needs have been met for those affected by COVID19. I would continue to support the community help locations (food pantries, health facilities, grocery pickup, support for the elderly and the immunocompromised). I would make sure there is a list of various resources (local, state and federal) readily available and easily accessible to anyone wanting that information. I would also make myself available for any citizen concerns. Communication is key.”
- What would you do in the event of another COVID-19 pandemic shut down?
“I would continue to support our city and its interests. Most directions will always come from the higher county and state government. All that I, or any council member, can do is to advocate for what is best for our city at that time. That being said, I don’t foresee any justification to reimpose such drastic actions.”
– Law Enforcement and Protests:
- What is your response to the protests and calls for defunding law enforcement?
“To be honest, I find this call to defund law enforcement completely insane. This is something I would never support or advocate for. Protests are a constitutional right of the public and I support “peaceful” protests.”
- How would you handle a situation in our community regarding law enforcement and mistreatment that addresses any injustice and mistreatment while keeping the peace and respect in the community; especially between citizens and law enforcement?
“Situations all have their own set of circumstances. With that in mind, we do have laws, policies, procedures as well as individual rights; all of which I support. Be it by law enforcement or a member of our community, if any of those are broken or infringed upon, I would stand behind what is right based on the law and the constitution. There are procedures already in place to address concerns involving the performance and application of our laws that include judicial review and in-house investigation if warranted. We are a small city and our citizens have formed a close community. I trust that our citizens will feel free to bring any concerns to the city council not addressed by the methods noted above.“
– Local Infrastructures, and Water, Wastewater and Electric Rates:
- How would you help get our crumbling infrastructures in our community get fix and replace?
- “Institute more proactive code enforcement that would encourage and assist with fixing the problems encountered; but still address them with the consequences as defined nonetheless.
- Work on a “New Business” incentive plan that would hopefully bring new businesses to Needles and can be incorporated with our marketing. This incentive plan would encourage and incorporate the rehab of existing buildings as well as new construction in our downtown area. If successful, both would bring in much needed tax revenues and jobs.
- Work with the citizens of Needles to create a volunteer community outreach committee that can provide help to struggling property owners (grants, donations, etc.).
- See my answer below for addressing repairs and upgrades to our water, wastewater and electric infrastructure. We absolutely need to stay on top of these. I trust that the Needles Utility Board is doing that.”
- Do you think raising utilities to pay for those infrastructures a good idea, especially at this moment as residents and businesses are going through problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic?
“no, I do not think raising rates is a good idea. While it is important to make sure that our water, wastewater and electric infrastructure is solid and sound, I think there first needs to be an effort made to see if any needed monies can be generated from another source. Keeping our rates as low as possible helps our citizens financially and again plays into the narrative we would want to use in our marketing plan. However, Money has to come from somewhere. If there is no money in the general fund to put towards the utilities, the cost will have to be forwarded to residents. This would never be an easy choice to make. No one wants to pay more.”
– Community Growth:
- How would you help attract new retails and businesses to invest, build and create new jobs in our community, such as new grocery store and laundromat?
“These goals can be addressed through marketing and rebranding of Needles. We first need to make Needles aesthetically pleasing and appealing. You only get one chance to make a first impression. This can include something as simple as a grass roots movement by the citizens themselves in helping to clean up trash and improve the curb appeal of their individual residences. I would encourage the City of Needles to first focus, but not limit, our time and effort to bringing in distribution, manufacturing and energy related businesses. These larger businesses bring in better opportunities for our local job market which can help to generate a larger population. Retail businesses are attracted to population (one of several considerations). This will then put us on better footing to court more retail businesses.”
- Should the City of Needles offer incentives for these new retails and businesses to come invest, build and create new jobs in our community?
“Absolutely! If elected to council, I would like to move toward creating a “New Small Business” incentive plan that would be beneficial to Needles both in the long and short term. It would give commercial property owners and new business owners time to find their footing in our city. I would also like to create an incentive plan that would entice larger business to move into downtown Needles as well as within its extended city limits.”
- Should the City of Needles have some kind of a co-op grocery store if no new grocery store is interested in coming to our community?
“Any mid-sized grocery store, whether it be co-op, chain or private market, would be a welcomed asset to our community.”
– Marijuana Industries, Businesses and Events?
- What do you think about the marijuana industries and businesses in the community, and their affect on our community (Good or Bad)?
“I support the marijuana industry and businesses. They are providing revenue and jobs that we would not otherwise have. I believe the overall affect on our community has been a positive one.”
- Would you support more marijuana industries and businesses to our community, including lounges, cafes and drive-thrus?
“I will always support new business in Needles. I feel we have some issues that need to be worked out with what we currently have first. However, I would not be opposed to a good plan if one was presented.”
- Would you support allowing of marijuana related events to our community sound to attract more tourists?
“I wouldn’t be opposed to the right plan when/if presented.”
– Housing and Homelessness:
- What will you do to bring in more needed housing to our community, especially more housing both market-rate and affordable, both houses and apartments?
“Right now, I’m pushing the importance of the CENSUS count! We need accurate population numbers to be on the record to bring in more housing. I know this is not what everyone wants to hear but it is the reality. Developers need to see need because of a growing population; the same with apartment and condominium companies. I think by rebuilding the brand of Needles, this can help with population growth. We also need to be focusing our rebranding and marketing efforts throughout the tristate area to encourage those populations to make a move across the river or down I-40 into Needles.”
- What do you think about tiny houses and shipping container housing as an alternative to affordable housing in our community?
“This is a trend among the demographic age group of people that Needles needs to be attracting. If done correctly on the city’s part, I feel this can bring great opportunity to Needles. It also would provide an opportunity for residents to safely house an elderly family member needing extra observation and keep them outside of the residential care facilities which are all located out of state. As we’ve seen during this pandemic, maintaining a connection to family greatly improves physical and mental health for both the patient and their loved ones.”
- Should the City of Needles offer incentives for these new housing and apartments of various sizes and rates, including affordable, to our community?
“That is something that can certainly be considered by the council. There would need to be a distinction made between developers and private property owners as to what would be appropriate.”
- How can the City of Needles help in addressing homelessness in our community?
“This socio-economic problem will always be with us. I feel that our community is doing a pretty good job of addressing the basic needs of this section of our population with shelter, food, clothing, faith, and mental and job counseling.”
– Gateway to California, Tourism and History:
- How would you help to bring in more tourism into our community?
“You are going to hear me talk a LOT about this throughout my campaign. We need to brand Needles as a tourist destination and that is what I will do! We do have it all. We have Rt. 66. I will work with the Rt. 66 committee and clubs to bring in the Rt. 66 tourist enthusiasts. I look at it this way… If Seligman, AZ can do it so can we and we should have already done it. We have the river, the desert for off-road enthusiasts, camping, hunting, hiking, and a golf course. I would urge the council to start marketing the City of Needles to the right demographics. I have already approached the city and had conversations about this and I feel that, if I am elected, I will be able to move forward with the marketing plan that I have spoken to them about.”
- What would you help local attractions, hotels and businesses in our community that relay on tourists, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How would you work to preserve the community’s history for future generations can visit, learn and bring them back to visit or live in our community?
“I think our community members have done and are doing a great job of this now. The Needles Museum goes above and beyond in their efforts to engage anyone and everyone. We have the “Memories of Needles Then and Now” Facebook page that is also an amazing tool. I would support our community’s committees and their goals to preserve our city’s history. I would also support and encourage the El Garces to be utilized more and in a way that preserves its history and the city’s history. I am encouraged by the steps the city has taken at Riverview Cemetery by mapping the locations and names on gravesites to help people find members of their families or in genealogical research. Our local library is a resource that hasn’t been tapped yet. The Needles Library has on file DVD’s of interviews with local residents (many of whom are no longer with us) about what it was like growing up in Needles in the “old days”. As part of my marketing effort, I’d like to see copies of these interviews loaded onto the city’s website for easier access. What better way to express the flavor of our tight knit community to those who have never known the same and to rekindle the memories of those who have moved away? Might we entice someone to make a move? I would support and encourage our entire community to take an active role in the preservation of the history of our city. All ideas would be welcome.”
– Open Local Government, Public Relations and Community Involvement:
- What would you do to make local government more open, honest and transparent to the people of our community?
“I think the COVID19 pandemic has brought to light what we’ve already been doing to achieve this and shows what additional measures we’ve taken in addition. I think we’ve been doing a good job. But, as with everything, it is communication that will always make this possible so that would be my goal: continuing and better communication.”
- What would you do to help get more people from our community more involved in their local government, especially participating in city council meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic?
“I do not feel there is or has been much more than has already been done on a local basis to get anyone who was not a council member to participate in council meetings during this pandemic. The whole world has been shut down at one point. This has created things being cancelled, postponed or changed in the way we do them; not to mention the stay-at-home orders. I 100% believe that more community involvement only creates a better community. I would always encourage and ask our residents to voice any and all concerns, ideas and even praises at a council meeting. Our city council is elected to represent our residents and the best interests of the city; therefore, everyone should want to be heard. If elected, I will be asking for opinions; and even asking for people to come and speak their opinions at the council meetings.”
“Once we are past the pandemic restrictions, I would encourage our local schools to bring their (appropriate grade level) classes to council meetings (parents also invited) to see for themselves how “their” city government operates. This would put a face on the process of government instead of it being just a boring page in a civics book. We ALL have a responsibility to raise our children to be informed adults who have an interest in their government at all levels.“
- How would you to help better communications between citizens, media and local government so that important information is getting out to the people in our community?
“I would utilize and work with our local media outlets to get the city news out in a timely manner. I would request that the city’s website be redesigned so that current updates (as well as other information about our city) can be more easily found and navigated.”
*** Candidate’s Closing Comments and Contacts: ***
“First, Needles needs a vision. Then, Needles needs to focus on working towards that vision. That vision includes the preservation of Needles’ past and the bright and attainable possibilities for Needles’ future. To create this vision you, the residents of Needles, will need leadership with fresh ideas, forward thinkers, a council that is diverse with both business minds and community oriented thinking. You, the residents of Needles, deserve a council that will take Needles into the future while keeping the values of small town USA- Needles intact and who are not afraid to promote and implement change. We cannot keep doing things the way we have always done them and expect different results. We need to add someone to the council that is for the growth of Needles and getting Needles back in business… with business. You need someone that understands that the city needs to be run as a competitive business in order to survive. You, the people of Needles, need honest representation and someone who is not afraid to enforce city codes and not run in a pack, who is not afraid to stand alone for what is right for Needles, someone who doesn’t have any hidden agendas or interests and only wants to create a great city for all of our families. I am that person! I will fight for Needles to get attention for once from the county and state. I will create marketing plans to get Needles on marketing lists that will get seen… I will promote Needles as the amazing community it is.
Vote for Dependability, Honesty, Reliability, Perseverance, and someone NEW! Vote for me, Jamie McCorkle. Follow me on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/Jamie-McCorkle-for-Needles-City-Council-112807550523589/ ) to ask questions or just to say “hi”!”
Thank you Jamie McCorkle for answering our questions from the community.
Good luck to all of the candidates and do not forget to vote in the City of Needles Election 2020.