LEADERS & ENTREPRENEURS: A conversation with Mayor Tim Elinski | The Verde Independent

Successful people in the Verde Valley come from all walks of life, but they all share certain qualities. In our new LEADERS & ENTREPRENEURS series, we talk to prominent personalities about the qualities that work for them in their area. Today we speak to Cottonwood Mayor Tim Eliniski.

Q. What inspired you to get involved in the Cottonwood community?

A. I fell in love with Cottonwood, it really is that simple. When a position opened up on the Planning and Zoning Commission, I applied and the Council appointed me to the service. That was 17 years ago! My love for my church has only grown since then and it has been the ultimate honor to minister with so many great colleagues over the years.

Q. What is your philosophy for being a leader?

A. Everyone is a leader at some point in their life and I believe everyone has the ability to lead in an effective way. It can be as simple as getting a kid to make a better decision or guiding a town through economic difficulties.

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Q. What was the best advice you received on becoming a leader?

A. I certainly had to find my own leadership style. I’ve had the pleasure of working with two other Cottonwood mayors and three city managers, so I’ve learned a lot from them. As a Flinn Brown Fellow, I’ve followed the policy trajectory of many of my colleagues across the state, and I really gain a lot of insight from seeing my friends navigate difficult policy decisions in their own communities.

Q. What do you like best about Cottonwood?

A. There are so many things to love about Cottonwood! We’re in one of the greenest corners of the state, with mountains all around us and a flowing river connecting our unique communities. We are diverse by nature, made up of hard working families and local business owners. Compassionate and united, this community truly comes together in times of need, which is a testament to our character and small-town culture.

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Q. What’s on your radio as you drive around town?

A. Before the radio gave up, a cassette tape of The Clash’s debut 1978 album.

Q. Who has had the biggest impact on your life?

A. My mother gave me my entrepreneurial spirit, love of travel and stubbornness. My father instilled in me patience, a dry sense of humor and more stubbornness.


Q. How do you balance your personal life, work life and your role as mayor?

A. All round teamwork. At home, I am blessed to have the best partner in the world, Ruth Ellen, and two extremely capable, intelligent, and patient young girls. Our days are busy and chaotic, but we always make time to sit down to eat as a family and take little weekend breaks every now and then to recharge our batteries. I’ve become quite a skilled multi-tasker, not nearly as competent as my wife, but not too shabby. Being mayor puts a lot of demands on my time [yet] I have excellent advice to lean on.

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Q. Did you have a mentor in Cottonwood’s history and activities?

A. The local historians who have shared memories of the Verde Valley help me to get a perspective of where we were generations ago, how far we have come and how much work still lies ahead.

Q. What is your favorite food?

A. Anything cooked over a campfire in the middle of the National Forest. If that’s not an option, a torta from Verde Lea!

Q. Favorite movie?

A. Raise Arizona.

Q. Favorite sports team?

A. Coming back to the work-life balance question…exercise just didn’t make it!

Sebastian DiGiovanni is an author and freelance writer based in Cottonwood.

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