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2:59 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

City Council candidate<BR>Bell: Community familiarity would be asset on council<BR>

(This is the eighth in a series of stories on the candidates running for Prescott City Council).

PRESCOTT –For more than a decade, Bob Bell's name has been synonymous with local entertainment, as he shepherded the Arizona Jamboree through its formative years.

Now, Bell would like to become more involved in the government side of the community as well. He is one of eight candidates seeking a seat on the Prescott City Council.

Certainly, Bell is no stranger to city hall. He served for several years on the Prescott Board of Adjustment and has been a board member for both the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and the Prescott Downtown Partnership.

And, as the owner and producer of the Arizona Jamboree, Bell has had a long involvement with the Elks Opera House, which the city recently bought.

But Bell said he now has the time and inclination to elevate his involvement.

"The time became available to me to run for City Council," Bell said. "I am dedicated, and I want to do the job. I've always had an interest, and I felt now was the time to run for council and do my duty."

Bell moved to Prescott in 1989 from Durango, Colo., where he and his former wife attempted to start a musical show similar to the Arizona Jamboree. That effort never took off, and the Bells moved on to Prescott. Soon, they discovered the Elks Theater and decided to try the musical format again.

The Jamboree became popular in Prescott and now performs at the Yavapai College Performance Hall, and in Laughlin, Nev., and St. George, Utah as well. And after a hiatus from the Elks, the show also did several performances at the historic theater again this year.

Prior to his foray into the entertainment business, Bell worked for years in the building industry.

Early in his career, he worked in sales for the Armco Steel Corporation in Iowa and Nebraska. Later, he worked for Butler Manufacturing Company and became a general contractor in Missouri. He then started Bell Building Systems, which he ran for years, before his son took over the business.

Bell says his years in the building business gave him the experience to handle the tough decisions he would face as a City Council member.

"I always had to face problems and make decisions," Bell said. "I feel that (the council) would be a natural extension of that."

Another of his strong suits would be his ability to look at city matters without bias, Bell said. "I feel that I can look at issues objectively and vote in the best interest of the City of Prescott," he said.

That objectivity would extend into regional cooperation as well, Bell said. He pointed out that he knows many of the players on the regional level from his years with the Jamboree.

"I am vitally interested in regional cooperation," Bell said. "I personally know many of the people and officials in the other communities. I feel I can be a catalyst for regional cooperation."

Fire safety would be another of the issues Bell would like to emphasize as a member of the City Council. "We have a tinderbox we're basically sitting on here," he said.

Bell said he also would have insights in police protection issues, because of his several years of experience serving as a "Citizens on Patrol" volunteer with the Prescott Police Department.

"We're the eyes and ears of the police department," Bell said. "We take care of things like traffic control. It's gratifying to me, because I know I released a police officer to do his thing."

As a councilman, Bell maintains he would be accessible and approachable to the public.

"If I get calls from residents, I promise to return their calls, and if they want me to come to their neighborhoods, I will be there," he said.

Bell served in the Marine Corps after he graduated from high school, and he later attended several years of college at Drake University at Des Moines, Iowa.

Contact Cindy Barks at cbarks@prescottaz.com.