Arizona State University alumnus Victor Flores’ work with APS and SRP led him to his current position as the Arizona-Mexico Commission executive committee treasurer. As treasurer, Flores monitors and approves expenditures, participates in AMC board meetings and attends summits. As the AMC celebrates its 60th anniversary, Flores reflects on the organization’s achievements and his favorite memory with the AMC.
Q: What is your professional background?
A: I am a graduate of construction engineering from ASU and I did dabble in construction for a number of years. I owned a retail bakery business; I was in partnership with a construction firm; I’ve done a number of things. And I ended up working for SRP and APS in governmental affairs, community affairs and consequently after retiring from both I now continue doing so on my own.
Q: When did you first become involved in the Arizona-Mexico Commission?
A: It was actually in the late ‘90s. I always had an interest in working in Mexico and I found out at the time SRP was a premier sponsor, so I asked to participate. I ultimately became the representative for SRP and prior that, I had no idea what the Arizona-Mexico Commission was about. I believe that it had been in kind of a quiet period before Governor Hull became the Governor back there in ‘97 I believe. So, it’s a wonderful organization and I’ve been involved in the Arizona-Mexico Commission since. I’ve actually been on the board since 1998. I served as president under Governor Napolitano and into a year with Governor Brewer. But, I’ve always been involved in the executive committee and it’s just a great organization.
Q: What is your role with the Arizona-Mexico Commission?
A: Well, right now I’m the treasurer of our executive committee and consequently monitor, approve expenditures and participate in our board meetings when I can and our summits, as well.
Q: Why do you think the work the Arizona-Mexico Commission does is important for Arizona?
A: My understanding is that in 2017, the economic impact of the region was $16 billion. I am told there’s an annual expenditure of around $7 million in the state of Arizona from Mexicans that come across to shop, go to our restaurants and so forth. So, I mean it’s vital for our economy here and vice versa, the same for Sonora. And, the Arizona-Mexico Commission in its 60th year… It has been a vehicle for dialogue to address issues that concern both of our states.
Q: Why is community involvement important? How does the Arizona-Mexico Commission exemplify community involvement?
A: For me personally, my mom was born in Sonora. My dad was born in Arizona, but his parents were born in Sonora. We have many relatives in the state of Sonora so again, it’s a vehicle for me to have dialogues on perhaps policies that would impact both Arizona and Sonora- not political. And, I believe for the Arizona-Mexico Commission, again, it’s a vehicle for dialogue on issues that affect both of our states, this entire region. And, consequently policy decisions or at least dialogue that may affect policy decisions are important to both. And, it happens at our summits, it happens through our- I believe we have 16 committees right now so I think it’s important.
Q: What is the Arizona-Mexico Commission’s impact on Arizona?
A: Primarily its economics and the fact that the Arizona-Mexico Commission can provide data and input on the importance of why we need to be good neighbors as was stated when they initiated this organization. I think another thing is the social and cultural importance of our region. I mean, we basically are a Sonoran Desert that has a border between the two countries. But, I think most- at least in my generation- don’t think of that as a barrier. You know, we visit our relatives, our friends in Sonora. They in turn, come to Arizona. So, I think that is just as important as the economics of why the Arizona-Mexico Commission participates.
Q: Why is it important for Arizona to focus on maintaining and continuously building a relationship with Mexico?
A: Again, for the sake of business people I believe it’s economics. You know, the $16-18 billion across trade, business that occurs. For personal reasons, we just need to be good neighbors. We interface in many things and I think if people were to become more aware that the Arizona Mexico-Commission is not an immigration-related entity because it’s got the name ‘Mexico’ in it, but it approximates a chamber of commerce, I think we would have more people participating. And, hopefully we will in this 60th anniversary coming up in June.
Q: The Arizona-Mexico Commission is celebrating its 60th anniversary. What has been its biggest achievement in the last 60 years?
A: I think, first of all, sustaining for the longevity of the organization between two governments at which time there’s not been a commitment [from] one or the other. I think that’s the most important. And, certainly during the challenging times of [Senate Bill] 1070 where we struggled through that challenge and maintained that dialogue with our Sonoran counterparts. I think that demonstrated the reality that the Arizona-Mexico Commission approximates a chamber of commerce and therefore business continues. It is not affected by ideologies on either side. So, I think just the fact that it survived all kinds of challenges and is continuing is probably the most important about the 60 years.
Q: What is your top priority for 2019?
A: Just continuing- hopefully continuing to be a member of the board, helping in any fashion that I can. We have incredible leadership beginning with Governor Ducey, Juan Ciscomani, Jessica Pacheco our board president and Alec [Thomson] our executive director. So, I guess my priority would be to assist in whatever fashion I can, to participate and dialogue with ideas that perhaps can improve how we conduct our business.
Q: What is your favorite memory with Arizona-Mexico Commission?
A: It has to be the fact that in 1998 while attending a summit we call ‘plenaries’ in San Carlos, Sonora. I met this lady who happened to be the general counsel to Governor Hull and we spoke and ultimately went to lunch months later, and we were married in 1999. So, San Carlos will always be special to me. The Arizona-Mexico Commission will always be special because that’s where I met my wife of almost 19 years.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: One of the untold heroes of the Arizona-Mexico Commission is ADOT director John Halikowski. John Halikowski, when he was appointed director, started participating in our committees and our interchanges with Sonora, and just took hold and committed to do all he could to help with the Mariposa port of entry. He’s been involved with all types of agreements with the Mexican government and he recently… approved $137-million appropriation for the state route 189 [and] I-19 interchange in Mariposa, which will allow traffic to move north more efficiently. He’s just been, I believe, a true committed hero for the region in his area, which is transportation. So, John deserves a lot of kudos for all that he’s done. There’s been many directors that have been involved, but his stands out because it’s been really impactful on the cross trade.