Council picks Hettinger to finish Lee’s term

By Bob Hembree
Posted 6/26/24

Page City Council chose Kenna Hettinger to complete Theresa Lee’s term ending November 2026. Council accepted Lee’s resignation May 22 and requested staff immediately advertise the …

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Council picks Hettinger to finish Lee’s term


Page City Council chose Kenna Hettinger to complete Theresa Lee’s term ending November 2026. Council accepted Lee’s resignation May 22 and requested staff immediately advertise the vacancy and request letters of interest. The cutoff date was set to June 11. The following day, June 12, council met in an executive session and made their decision.

Hettinger and her husband, Page Magistrate Andrew Hettinger, moved from Chandler, AZ to Page Jan. 2021. She is on the ZenniHome marketing team and volunteers as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Communications Director for Page, Arizona Stake. She received a bachelor's degree in Mathematics with a minor in Pre-Law at University of Arizona in Tucson and graduated with honors. Her honors thesis, titled “A Comparison of Methods Used in Multi-Objective Optimization,” uses multiple parameters algorithms to determine successful flight route plans - coincidentally, a topic tangentially related to recent Contour Airlines discussions in council meetings.

Hettinger told the Chronicle of other interests. “I did swim team in high school. I was not good, but I loved it. So there were swimmers who were really good, and I was there for the exercise and the community of being on a swim team, but was not an essential player to our team by any means. And then I have played the piano since I was five, and I now play the organ for our congregation, specifically in the LDS church. So [I] started playing the piano, started to dabble in the organ a couple years ago, and now I'm super grateful that I get to use that talent on Sundays.”

When asked what her top concerns for Page are, Hettinger said, “I would say my top concerns are economic development and making sure we're thinking ahead for the future of Page. I love how much tourism supports the city. I understand that there are some struggles. We're a small town. We get 4.5 million visitors every year. That's tricky. But those tourists also bring in a ton of money for our businesses and also through the sales tax they're paying. And so I want to make sure that we continue to support the tourism industry, but then use those funds that our visitors are bringing in to improve quality of life for our citizens - so that it's not just a negative that we have all these tourists coming in and making Page busy, but that it's able to support quality of life for our citizens. So economic development, improving quality of life. I have been so impressed by the current city council. I think they're very fiscally responsible with the budget.”

Hettinger has followed council meetings closely, so is up to speed on the big issues like housing. “I obviously don't know all of the inner workings of the city, but I thought Councilor Carey explained it really well at Wednesday's meeting (June 12),” said Hettinger. “There are certain things that the city council can do to support housing. We, with me on it, can fast track permitting. We can help with zoning. We can make it easier for developers to come in. The tricky thing, though, is I agree with Councilor Carey, and I think what the city council has voted on so far, we don't want to be building houses and trying to sell them. That's not the job of City Council. This tricky thing of housing is so important. There are things City Council can do to support that. There are things we can't do. But I love the idea of better understanding what Flagstaff did that they were able to have this land trust management set up for Habitat for Humanity to bring in these homes. So definitely continuing to explore opportunities like that where the city is able to support developers, [and] make it more appealing for them to come to Page.”

Along with housing, securing a second pipeline and pumping station is a top concern. The existing system is old and some parts are overstressed. If something goes wrong, it could take weeks to repair. It would essentially shut down Page and LeChee. This is why a redundant water system is necessary, a second straw. The city hasn’t secured the grants needed to start the project. Even after $23 million for the project was approved and appropriated by the Arizona House and Senate, it was missing from the final budget when it reached Governor Katie Hobbs’ desk. Sources say the ball was dropped and the paperwork wasn’t turned in on time.

“It sounds like we maybe have two lobbying groups,” said Hettinger, “and I'm not sure exactly the separation of responsibilities there, but we've got two groups. They don't seem to be working together that well. We're not sure what one is doing versus the other. City Council's job is not to go do the lobbying. It's appropriate for us to hire professionals who have this experience to do it, but I think it is our job to be so clear in our expectations that we know exactly what we're asking them to do, and we can then evaluate ‘did they accomplish what we wanted them to do or not?’”

“City Council did act when we had the emergency of Lake Powell was going to be too low,” said Hettinger. “Our straw wasn't going to go deep enough. They acted. We have expanded that straw. So now it goes deep enough that we have water as long as the dam is working. If we get to the point where the water is so low that the dam can no longer produce energy, then there are a lot of problems there. So we've taken that immediate action, which I fully support.

“The water treatment facility, it sounds like, is overtaxed. And so we need to take action there so that we're not going to run into a situation where suddenly we have water, but we can't treat it.

“I think that the responsibility of City Council is to give direction to the experts. Have the experts come back with their recommendation so that we can understand the pros and cons of each path forward and then make the best decision.

“Moving here from Phoenix, obviously that was a big change. And I love so much the small town feel of Page. I love when we do parades for holidays and kids are out on bikes. And I love all of the events that we have around the city. I would love to see those expand. Like the balloon regatta is incredible. Are there other things like that? So that's not just a one time a year thing, but are there other events that we could create that make living here in Page so incredible for our residents while also bringing in tourism and money? That would be awesome. So I want to keep what makes Page incredible, which is the small town feel. I feel like I actually know my neighbors here. I know people around town. We lived in a neighborhood in Phoenix and I didn't know anyone that lived around me. And I love living in Page here where it really does feel like small town America. And at the same time, I want to look at opportunities that we can provide amenities to our Page citizens using those funds that come in from the tourism industry to the city. So keeping everything that makes Page amazing here and allowing us to still grow and provide additional amenities.”

Hettinger is expected to be seated at the next council meeting, June 26.