Bell cites varied background in run for second term

PRESCOTT – At the age of 74, Bob Bell is in a unique position, which he said gives him a first-hand view of two disparate age groups.

“Even though I’m at an age that lets me communicate well with senior citizens, I’m also in touch with the younger generation, because I have a 12-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old daughter,” said Bell.

Nearing the end of his first four-year term on the Prescott City Council, Bell is one of eight candidates vying for three council positions this fall.

Bell maintains that, along with his ability to relate to various age groups, he also has shown that he can lend an even hand to city business.

“I’ve tried to be the voice of reason,” Bell said of his first term on the council. “I listen very carefully to what people have to say.”

After a decades-long career in the building industry, Bell moved to Prescott in 1989 and, along with his former wife, started the Arizona Jamboree, a hometown musical show that performed for a time at the Elks Opera House and the Yavapai College Performance Hall.

Bell re-entered the construction field about two years ago, when he became a consultant to a new company, Jebco Building Systems. The company currently has a number of local projects under way, Bell said.

He cites his building experience as one of his major attributes on the council. And he also stressed his 16 years as a Prescott resident, as well as his four as a councilman, as being advantageous to his candidacy.

“After you serve four years, I think you get more effective as time goes on,” he said. “I look at some of the candidates who have lived here for two or three years, and I think ‘wait a minute, you need to pay your dues.’”

Likewise, Bell questions the commitment some of the other candidates have to major projects that the current council has started.

“There are some things that we’ve started that I would hate to bow out on. The water ranch is the big one,” he said, referring to the Paulden-area Big Chino Ranch, which the city bought in late 2004. “I would like to see that to fruition, but I’m concerned that possibly some of the people running don’t have the fire in their belly to get that done.”

Bell, who sees annexation and growth as the major issues facing the city, acknowledges that the 2003 development agreement that the council approved with Granite Dells and Point of Rocks ranches, was not conclusive enough.

“That was a tentative agreement,” Bell said of the pact, which has generated considerable controversy in recent months. He added that council members always understood that they “would have plenty of time to look at it in more detail.” Now, Bell said, “we need to change that annexation agreement almost in total.”

As for the criticism that the agreement has generated, he said, “At least we didn’t go through with it the way it was.”

And even though Bell maintains that the area’s water supply would help to control growth, he said he also would support “some kind of cap, some kind of limit, on the number of building permits for housing.” He added: “ I don’t want to see uncontrolled growth. We just cannot let it go wild, as Prescott Valley has done.”

Through his years in Prescott, Bell has been involved in a number of city and community organizations, including: the Prescott Police Department’s “Citizens on Patrol,” the Prescott Board of Adjustment, the Prescott Chamber of Commerce, and the Prescott Downtown Partnership.

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 the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com